HONOLULU (KHON2) — Several lawmakers want to prohibit the state’s lieutenant governor from having a second job.
A bill moving through the state house of representatives states if a governor cannot perform their duties, the lieutenant governor would need to dedicate all their attention, time, and energy in serving the people of Hawaii.
Currently Lt. Gov. Josh Green works two 48-hour shifts a month as an emergency room doctor on the Big Island.
“It’s a privilege to be a doctor for my community,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “It really makes me a better lieutenant governor being a physician, frankly. So I’m not into political games. I don’t like them. But anyone who’s not totally focused on stopping COVID-19 isn’t doing their job. So let’s focus on that. I’m going to be a doctor no matter what, but I am honored to be a physician and lieutenant governor.”
A bill passed last September will require the Governor and county mayors from taking in a second income while in office starting Nov. 1, 2022. State house Majority Leader Della Au Belatti says the lieutenant governor bill has nothing to do with Green or his job as a physician.
“What we’re really trying to protect against is this concept of business interests that can really occur at the executive level,” Rep. Belatti said. “When you think about the ways in which the executive really has an influence over contracts and business relationships and private interests.”
If passed, the bill would not impact Lt. Gov. Green’s current role, as the law would not go into effect until November of 2022 with a 61-day grace period. Lt. Gov. Green’s term ends in December of 2022.
Rep. Belatti says that there are workarounds for future executive leaders.
“We could maybe have some exemptions for shortage areas, but I also think that different sectors have possibilities for people to continue to work for pro bono,” said Belatti.
State representatives and senators are allowed to have separate professions, but they’re also part-time lawmakers — working this year from Jan. 20 until April 29.
“The pay is not full time versus in the executive branch you have an individual or individuals who work full time and then the compensation is committed to measure with that,” Belatti said.
Lt. Gov. Green believes his work as a doctor has made Hawaii’s fight against COVID-19 more successful.
“One small part of why we have the lowest case rates in the country and why we have the lowest mortality rate is because I’m able to share experiences with my physician colleagues and make policy with our team to keep us low,” said Green.
The bill currently sits in the house. Green says he’ll continue his work as a physician.
“I’ll always be a doctor. I mean, that’s not gonna change,” Green said.