Welcome to Capitol Watch. Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie is already in transition mode, there’s new leadership at the Legislature and other government branches, and Civil Beat is reporting on it all.

2:55 p.m. Hemp, Hemp, Hooray

It’s illegal in the United States (you can import it but not grow it, as the feds still don’t distinguish between marijuana and non-psychoactive cannabis), but Cynthia Thielen has long promoted hemp for its many industrial uses.

The Republican legislator has just posted four YouTube clips — parts one, two, three and four — where Thielen, techy Jay Fidell and hemp entrepreneur Greg Flavall talk … well, hemp.

Major producers of hemp include China, France and Canada.

1:26 p.m. Democrats’ Complaint Against GOP Proceeds

The Democratic Party of Hawaii is not dropping a complaint it filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission against Republicans, even though the election is over.

The complaint, filed in late October, alleges that the Republican Governors Association and the gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona‘s campaign violated state campaign contribution limits by coordinating advertising.

Tony Gill, an attorney and the chairman of Oahu Democrats, said that Aiona and the RGA have since received the complaint and that the commission could decide on the merits in December or January.

At the time of the complaint, the local GOP dismissed the charges as purely political. But Gill and party chairman Dante Carpenter told Civil Beat a ruling was needed on the matter or else the state could see the same unprecedented level of national spending in Hawaii’s 2010 elections.

10:51 a.m. Abercrombie Announces Plans to Assist Homeless Vets

Leveraging his ties with federal folks with Hawaii roots — namely, Barack Obama, Eric Shinseki and Tammy DuckworthNeil Abercrombie announced today two plans to assist homeless veterans in Hawaii.

The first involves improving on an existing program that Abercrombie believes has not fully been taken advantage of: Sending federal officials to Hawaii to work directly with vets on grant and per diem programs to fund transitional housing. The second plan is to be implemented not far down the road: providing more case management and support services to prevent veterans from becoming homeless.

“I will have the details worked out as quickly as I can,” Abercrombie promised.

His comments come on the same day the University of Hawaii released a new study showing that the number of people who experienced homelessness and received shelter or outreach services from the state has increased 3 percent over the past year to 13,886.

In other news, Abercrombie will attend the National Governors Association Seminar for New Governors in Colorado Springs, Colo., this weekend.

9:52 a.m. Gov-Elect Talks Homelessness

Neil Abercrombie is delivering the keynote address at the annual statewide homeless awareness conference at the Pacific Beach Hotel this morning.

The fact that Abercrombie has chosen to give such a major address three weeks before he is sworn in suggest his commitment to an issue that has also been a priority of Linda Lingle — and one that has long vexed lawmakers and care providers.

Legislators John Mizuno and Rida Cabalilla also addressed the conference, sponsored by Partners In Care as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. In attendance: Breene Harimoto and his Honolulu City Council predecessor Gary Okino.)

8:57 a.m. Moving On Up

Shan Tsutsui has identified new office assignments at the Capitol for the 2011 session, which hint at who is up and who is down in the state Senate.

Tsutsui moves into Room 409, the coveted corner office long held by Colleen Hanabusa. Clayton Hee moves into 407, displacing Russell Kokubun, who moves two floors down to to 222.

The fourth floor is where the power resides — the same floor as the House Speaker and the governor’s staff. Bonus: Tsutsui’s and Hee’s offices are also across from the men’s room and next to an elevator and stairwell.


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