Gov Ige Vetoes Harmful Bills

Reason Prevails!

Gov. David Ige Vetoes Legislative Bills Designed to Harm UH

It was a tumultuous year for everyone in 2020. The pandemic created a significant budget shortfall that required a closer look at ways to significantly reduce costs. Unfortunately, this resulted in legislative bills that were hastily approved to check the box of reducing the state’s expenses. Some of these bills were ill conceived and would have severe, lasting negative ramifications for the University of Hawaii and for our state.

The State is in Better Financial Shape

Since the state’s economic situation dramatically improved since the beginning of the legislative session, Gov. Ige reasoned that many of the drastic measures to reduce costs were no longer necessary. An infusion of federal relief funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides Hawaii with timely, valuable economic support. In addition, the Council on Revenues projects a stronger, faster economic recovery for Hawaii.

As a result of these changes, on June 21, Gov. David Ige announced his intention to veto 28 of the 268 bills, which were presented to him to consider signing into law. The good news: he plans to veto two of those bills, which would have been harmful to the University of Hawaii. Fortunately, sound reason prevailed.

The two vetoed bills are SB589 SD2 HD2 CD1 – Relating to the University of Hawaii and HB1296 HD1 SD2 CD1 – Relating to State Funds.

Vetoed: Merger of UH Cancer Center with JABSOM

SB589 would have required among other things that the UH Cancer Center and the John A. Burns School of Medicine merge their administrative and infrastructure functions. In addition, the bill extends the sunset on rules governing the transfer of technology and innovation and commercialization efforts between the University and a private party.

It Could Be Unconstitutional

The Governor’s rationale for vetoing the bill was clear: “This measure may put the state in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracting clause. If enacted into law, the rule changes governing the transfer of technology and commercialization initiatives could jeopardize existing contracts committed to by the University. This would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracting clause, which forbids states from passing laws that impair the obligation of contracts.”

While Possibly Making UH Less Flexible In The Future

The rationale went on to state that “codifying the UH Cancer Center into law and setting organizational reporting into statute, limits the university’s flexibility to make changes to that structure in the future. While merging the administrative functions of the Cancer Center and Medical School may achieve cost savings, these structural changes should be made in consultation with the leadership of the respective institutions and UH Manoa leadership.”

Vetoed: Restrictions on UH Cancer Center Funding 

HB1296, which faced strong opposition from various organizations because it sought to repeal the Tobacco Control and Prevention Trust Fund and to allocate any remaining balances from the tobacco settlement funds to the general fund. This would have also eliminated settlement monies dedicated to the University of Hawai’i’s revenue-undertakings fund by July 2033, and caps the total amount in the Tobacco Settlement Special Fund at $4.3 million annually.

Stopped: Making UH Pay for Faculty Fringe Benefits

Clandestinely woven into the bill was a section requiring the University to reimburse the state for fringe benefit costs for any position paid for by a special fund. It also would prohibit the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center from using cigarette tax revenue for research or operation costs.

Vetoing This Was A No-brainer

Gov. Ige noted in his rationale that he would veto HB1296 because it would significantly increase costs for the University of Hawai’i, while simultaneously eliminating the UH Cancer Center’s ability to conduct cancer research and cancer center operations with cigarette tax revenue. This would basically defund programs to prevent or stop smoking and result in public health impacts and this will likely create significantly higher costs for the state’s health systems in the future.

Since the veto of a bill is an all or nothing proposition, the veto also eliminates the proposal to require the University to reimburse the state for fringe benefit costs.

But It’s Not Over Yet

While we can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s not over yet, an intent to veto is not a veto. Legislators have until July 6 to override the Governor’s vetoes.  They could also call for a special session where they could reintroduce bills. UHPA will keep you informed.

UHPA Endorses Lynne Wilkens for ERS Board

Lynne Wilkens

Fully endorsed by UHPA

Lynne Wilkens has all of the right qualities to serve in the Teacher Seat for the State of Hawai‘i Employees’ Retirement System. She has served in leadership roles with the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center for the past 33 years and successfully led UHPA through difficult challenges. Over a five-year period, she tirelessly served as a Negotiating Team Member, Treasurer, and Board President. Your vote for Lynne will make sure the concerns of Hawai‘i’s employees are heard!

Lynne’s quote:

“Numbers and data play important roles in crafting good policy. I see this daily in my profession as a Biostatistician. I apply careful analysis to best understand how to prevent and treat disease in my work at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center and instill these skills in my students.

As an ERS Trustee, I’ll make sure the numbers make sense for you and me. Good retirement benefits help to attract and retain great employees, and this ensures we can have a better quality of life and maintain high standards of service for the community.”

Rooms Added to Aulani – Last Chance to Book

Update: a few more rooms have been added!  This event was sold out but we were able to work with the folks at Aulani to give you one last chance to make a reservation.

UHPA is happy to announce our 7th annual UHPA Aulani Resort member-only benefit.  Stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort on 10/29 and/or 10/30 at a discounted rate.  Make your reservations now as this offer only comes once a year, we have limited availability and previous years have sold out.  Enjoy!

UHPA Faculty Serves Hawai’i’s Communities Through Suicide Prevention

Submitted Nomination of UHPA Faculty Demonstrating our Principles in Action:


Nominee nameDeborah A. Goebert and Jeanelle J. Sugimoto-Matsuda
Nominee Campus, DeptManoa, Dept of Psychiatry & Office of Public Health Studies
Which of the principles does your submission best demonstrate?Serving the Community
Why is this faculty member worthy of your nomination?Dr. Deborah Goebert and Dr. Jeanelle Sugimoto-Matsuda have provided critically important community service in the areas of suicide prevention and mental health. Dr. Goebert is a Professor, Associate Director of Research, and Director of Resident Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the John A. Burn School of Medicine, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Dr. Sugimoto-Matsuda is an Associate Professor in the Office of Public Health Studies, Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. For over the past 15 years, both Drs. Goebert and Sugimoto-Matsuda have provided outstanding community service to address injury prevention, including suicide prevention, and to improve the mental health of the people of Hawai‘i. At different times, both have served as Chair/Co-Chair of the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Task Force. Dr. Goebert is also an inaugural member of the Task Force. Over the last 15 years, they have seen the Task Force grow exponentially, with expansion to now include County Task Forces to promote local activities. They have helped support efforts by providing expertise in planning, policy development, and programs. Most notably, they played instrumental roles in facilitating input from community adults and youth for the State’s strategic plan, as well as writing the formal document that was reported to the Hawai‛i State Legislature. They have provided suicide-prevention education and training to a vast and diverse array of audiences, including public and private K-12 school youth and educators, healthcare providers, public safety and judiciary agencies, military partners, community/non-profit organizations, and general family/community groups. In response to recent legislation, Dr. Sugimoto-Matsuda worked with leaders in the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DoE) to develop a suicide prevention basics course to meet DoE’s needs. Dr. Goebert has helped to introduce upstream prevention programs to Hawaii’s youth. They have supported policies and legislation aimed at preventing suicides across the lifespan and raising awareness about this important issue. For example, they have helped promote suicide-prevention-awareness month in September; ensure suicide prevention policy and training in our public K-12 schools; facilitated statewide engagement by youth to inform the legislature; and shared local efforts with local and national policymakers. With the advent of SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 and the adverse impact that this has had on the mental health of people in Hawai‘i, they have increased their efforts at getting the word out that there is hope and services. This included the development of a new brochure aimed at promoting resources during the pandemic and a guide for college/university instructors to have conversations with their students about mental health and ways to take care of themselves. They were also engaged in community outreach though webinars on self-care, resilience, and social-media messaging on mental health. Their current project, called the “Hawaii’s Caring Systems Initiative to Prevent Youth Suicide,” was recently awarded $3.6 million by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS). The purpose of this effort is to strengthen the capacity of key youth-serving systems in the areas of suicide prevention (hope), early intervention (help), and postvention (healing), as well as strengthen the communication and collaboration among these systems to improve overall continuity of care. Collectively, Drs. Goebert and Sugimoto-Matsuda continue to serve the communities of Hawai‘i to prevent suicides and to improve the mental health of the people of Hawai‘i.

Please note that this published nomination has been minimally edited, if at all, and strictly reflects the views of the submitting author and not UHPA.

Do you know of other faculty that demonstrate our principles in action that are worthy of nomination?

Fill the form below or open it in a new tab for easier use on a mobile device.


HMSA video: Talk to your PCP

We are passing on a message from HMSA below with minimal editing:

EUTF Actives Open Enrollment has just ended, and it’s a perfect time for your membership to gear up for the new plan year. Plan selections have been made, but what’s next? Part of being healthy means seeing a PCP for regular check-ups and screenings.

We created another video for your membership on Talking to Your PCP.

To encourage our members to take control of their own health and well-being, the video answers questions like:

  • Have you checked in with your PCP on your goals for 2021?
  • Do you want to get back on track?
  • How can we help work on this with you to meet your health and well-being plans?

We hope this will encourage your membership to schedule their appointment with their PCP and make progress towards their 2021 goals.

HLRB Refuses to Order – Allows UHPA to Challenge in Court

Refuse to rule for good cause and lack of jurisdiction

On Thursday, June 10, 2021, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) issued an order no. 3764 over UHPA’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling in Case No. 21-DR-07-177.  Essentially, the Board refused to issue any ruling over UHPA’s three (3) questions presented to the Board for good cause and lack of jurisdiction.

Constitutional issues not within Board’s authority

UHPA questioned the following in its Petition for Declaratory Ruling:

  1. Whether the legislative deletion of a specific occupied bargaining unit position violates Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 89, specifically whether any item in a budget bill that purports to delete an occupied position is null and void based on HRS § 89-19;
  2. Whether, if DAVID Y. IGE, Governor, State of Hawaii (Governor) signs HB 200 into law, has he committed a prohibited practice as a public employer due to the legislative deletion of a specific occupied bargaining unit position, specifically whether it would be a prohibited practice under HRS § 89-13[a](7) for the Governor to sign HB 200, based on §§ 89-3 and 89-8, and/or a prohibited practice under HRS § 89-13[a](8); and
  3. Whether, if the Governor signs HB 200 into law, when HB 200 contains the legislative deletion of a specific occupied bargaining unit position, any animus of a Hawaii State Legislator (Legislator) may be attributed to the Governor, and, if the Legislator’s animus is of an exacerbated type, it would justify an extraordinary corrective order from the Board.

The Board analyzed UHPA’s question 1. and 3. and determined that they are matters that question constitutional issues and not statutory matters covered under Chapter 89, HRS, in which the Board has original jurisdiction and authority.  On question 2. the Board determined that the question is not properly before the Board to rule since there was no prohibited practice complaint filed.

Provides Pathway for Circuit Court Challenge

The Board’s order now allows UHPA to challenge the constitutional issues and concerns over HB 200 in Hawaii’s Circuit Court. The order was not necessarily unexpected, as in prior cases the courts have required the exhaustion of all applicable administrative remedies. 

Next Steps

UHPA’s leadership and legal counsel are currently reviewing and analyzing the Board’s recent order. UHPA will keep the membership apprised of any future actions taken on this matter.

Book Now: UHPA’s Disney Aulani Weekend!

Our very popular UHPA Disney Aulani Weekend returns for it’s 7th annual event on Oct 29 & 30, 2021.  Don’t miss out!

UHPA members love the Disney Aulani Resort. If you are an early bird planner, this is your chance to get the best rooms at our heavily discounted rates before they sell out as they do every year.

Start Earlier or Stay Later

Our special rates are in effect for Oct 29 & 30.  Want to stay longer? You can reserve dates up to 5 days before or after our special rate days.  This year brings a special treat as it overlaps the Halloween weekend which should be extra fun for the whole family

First Come, First Serve Will Sell Out Quickly

You’ve probably already experienced COVID-related shortages and booking difficulties.  Early bird reservations are open now and we highly recommend you make your reservations as we only have limited availability and if previous years are an indication, this will sell out very quickly.