Monday, March 16, 2009
Lingle, like Bush, believes laws don’t apply to her
by Larry Geller
Lingle said she believes very strongly that the Legislature had the authority to pass the law.
Lingle also defended her administration's decision to exempt the project from environmental review, which triggered the legal challenges from environmentalists.
"I'm sure there are all sorts of political opinions out there," she said. [Honolulu Advertiser, Loss of Superferry would be 'devastating,' Lingle says, 3/16/2009]
Wait… first of all, recall that her administration drafted the law that the Legislature dutifully passed.
The Supreme Court opinion is clear. It is unconstitutional for a special law to be passed to benefit one single entity. The Court said, in part:
…Act 2 was conceived, drafted, and enacted to accomplish the specific purpose of allowing the Superferry, and the Superferry alone, to operate without satisfying the requirements of Chapter 343 of the Hawaii statutes. By its own repealing language, once this purpose was accomplished, Act 2 will die before it can accomplish a like purpose for any other entity.”
Had an EIS been completed, the ferry might be operating now. But instead, the Lingle administration drafted (and the Legislature passed) a law to allow the Superferry company to avoid complying with laws that apply to everyone else.
And she still doesn’t get it.
This is not a unique instance. The governor does not implement laws when she just feels like it. Never mind that the Legislature has passed the laws, and perhaps has even overridden her veto.
Act 2, by the way, called for quarterly reports by the governor. Lingle ignored that part of the law.
I’ll just pick a few more from my own advocacy work.
Times are tough, and the Legislature passed two laws in recent sessions to allow seniors, those with disabilities, and those on low incomes to save money on prescription drugs. One law required the administration to negotiate for rebates from drug companies. The negotiations have not taken place. Another required the administration to join with five other states to purchase prescription drugs overseas (where they are very often made, by the way). She has ignored that law.
Hawaii passed a Safe Haven law in an effort to provide distraught mothers with a safe alternative to abandoning unwanted newborns to die. She has not implemented that law.
Add in all the laws that can be set aside simply by not releasing the money (for example, $3 million over two years for pedestrian safety, and more than $1 million over two years for Kupuna Care services) and there is likely a whole flock of laws that this governor has simply set aside.
Act 2 was different in that a law was passed (with the complicity of the Legislature) to skirt other laws. Because of that, a court could challenge Act 2. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to challenge Lingle’s other lawbreaking. The Constitution leaves execution of laws to the executive branch (natch), but provides no easy way for citizens to intervene when the executive branch simply refuses to do its job.
Lets be fair. Lingle, like Bush, like Bill Clinton, like Cris Dodd, like Barney Frank, etc.... doesn't believe the law applies to her.
All politicians feel like they are above the law.