A bill that supporters hope could speed domestic violence cases through the court system is among 66 others that are set to become law.

On Tuesday, Gov. David Ige released his final veto list that included just five bills, three of which were in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic that the governor’s administration now says are not necessary.

The other bills getting the axe include one that deals with energy efficient state buildings and another that would have banned ex-state executives from getting jobs as lobbyists.

Governor David Ige before the surge COVID-19 testing press conference. September 1, 2020
Gov. David Ige vetoed five bills but allowed one to become law that is meant to hasten certain domestic violence cases through the court system. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

The vetoes are coming down late this year because the Legislature took two time-outs before finally ending the 2020 session in mid-July, around the time vetoes usually take place.

Senate Bill 2638 would set up a pilot program to streamline misdemeanor household abuse cases through the courts. It was among those on the governor’s intent-to-veto list two weeks ago.

The administration’s only objection to the bill was a loophole that could allow a potential abuser to still own a firearm after going through a court-approved program.

But that analysis was flawed, according to Nanci Kreidman of the Domestic Violence Action Center. The loophole is usually remedied by an abuse victim taking out a restraining order.

The bill would create a petty misdemeanor offense for household abuse for relatively minor offenses like shoving. The lower level case could be resolved by a judge, who can assign a court-mandated program to an abuser for treatment and education.

The program was supported by the state Judiciary among other entities and will go into effect Jan. 1. The bill requires the Judiciary to submit a report on the program each year between 2022 and 2026, at which time the Legislature can choose to renew the program or let it expire.

Ige signed SB 2638 along with several other measures Tuesday that were put forward by the Women’s Legislative Caucus.

Among those was House Bill 2054, which prohibits employers from requiring their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements and also adds into law protections for workers discussing harassment.

Sen. Laura Thielen, a member of the caucus, compared employers who would require such agreements to Harvey Weinstein, the infamous movie producer convicted in February on charges of sexual assault and rape.

Such disclosures, Thielen says, would “allow a serial predator to continue predations in the workplace.”

During the bill-signing ceremony, Ige also signed an executive order directing the Department of Public Safety to create a community-based work furlough program.

“The directive ensures that eligible women inmates will at least have one option for community-based rehabilitative services and assistance in transitioning from imprisonment back to the broader community,” Ige said.

DPS earlier this year had plans to wind down the state’s only work furlough program, prompting lawmakers to push the department to find funding for the program.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 2523, which identified where DPS could get the funding, but Ige is vetoing the bill because the department already funded the program.

House Bill 1523, directing the Department of Education’s use of federal relief funds, will also be vetoed. Ige said it’s because the DOE has already been given access to those funds.

House Bill 1846 would have required all new state buildings to be energy efficient. Ige said the bill could open the state up to lawsuits since there are already projects in the pipeline that are set to be built after the bill’s effective date in 2021.

Ige also vetoed Senate Bill 2206 because it could lead to lawsuits. The bill would have allowed the Board of Land and Natural Resources to issue month-to-month permits for emergency homeless shelters.

The governor followed through with a veto of the lobbying bill, House Bill 2124, because he believes it would catch board members and make it harder to recruit for those positions.

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