The Hawaii Legislature will not convene a special session to override Gov. David Ige’s potential vetoes of bills after the Senate determined it didn’t have enough votes to overturn any of the governor’s decisions and legislative leaders couldn’t agree on which measures to try to save, according to memos circulated among lawmakers.

That means that a number of bills passed this year — including one that would reform Hawaii’s often-criticized civil asset forfeiture program — could meet their demise Tuesday if Ige follows through with his intent to veto list.

Earlier this week, a memo from Senate President Ron Kouchi listed 11 bills on Ige’s list that senators might consider trying to save if a special session was called. In a memo to state senators Friday, Kouchi wrote that his chamber had enough members to open a special session but lacked votes to actually overturn Ige’s vetoes.

Senate President Ron Kouchi with left Speaker Scott Saiki during committee meeting. 24 april 2018

House Speaker Scott Saiki, left, and Senate President Ron Kouchi could not come to a consensus Friday on attempts to override possible gubernatorial vetoes.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The 25-member Senate needs at least 17 votes to override a veto, while the 51-member House needs 34 votes.

House Speaker Scott Saiki circulated a memo to his chamber Friday, saying the House would not convene an override session due to a lack of consensus between the Senate and House. Saiki told representatives earlier this week that he had been discussing the possibility of a special session with Kouchi.

Ige has until Tuesday to decide whether or not he wants to sign or veto bills or allow them to become law without his signature. He unveiled a list of 20 bills he was considering vetoing at a news conference June 24. That list includes proposals to establish an industrial hemp licensing program, enforce taxes on short-term vacation rentals and institute a corporate income tax on real estate investment trusts.

Ige could still decide to sign some of those bills.

The Senate considered potential veto override votes on some of the bills on Ige’s list, including the proposals for the hemp licensing program, the tax on REITs, an extension of the cap on tax credits to the film industry and asset forfeiture reform.

Earlier this week, Ige met with advocates of asset forfeiture reform, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii and Young Progressives Demanding Action.

A nonprofit organization made up of interfaith groups has also been lobbying Ige to sign the proposed tax on REITs.

A note to our readers

While asking for your support is something we don’t like to do, the simple fact is that our reporters, our journalism, and our impact rely on it. Since lifting our paywall and becoming a nonprofit in mid-2016, our local newsroom has benefitted from a stream of charitable support from people who want our type of journalism to survive. People like you who understand that our work is essential to a better-informed community. If you value the work of our journalists, show us with your tax-deductible support.

About the Author