Watching and reporting about Hawaii from Washington Place to Washington, D.C.

4:47 p.m. State Drops Appeal on PAC Donations Case

The Hawaii Department of the Attorney General on June 9 withdrew an appeal of a ruling that permitted unlimited contributions to political action committees.

The injunction applies only to political committees that make solely independent political expenditures, and not to candidate committees or non-candidate committees that coordinate with candidates.

“This is a very small percentage of groups in Hawaii,” Joshua Wisch, special assistant to the Attorney General, told Civil Beat.

Read a full Associated Press report on the matter here.

4:22 p.m. Nevada Lawmaker Tracked Down in Hawaii

The Las Vegas Sun reports today that about 50 last-minute bills passed by the Nevada Legislature “are making an overnight trip to Hawaii” in order to get the signature of the speaker of the Assembly before they head to the governor for review:

Speaker John Oceguera left town before signing hard copies of the legislation. The 2011 session ended at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The bills were shipped overnight Monday and are expected back in Nevada Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, according to Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

It’s the first time in memory that bills have had to be shipped in order to be signed, he said.

In the digital age, actual copies of bills still must be walked from committee chairs to the Senate and Assembly floors and to the governor.

2:50 p.m. Spending Commission Fines Awana $1,900

Karen Awana, a Democrat who represents the Nanakuli area in the state House, has been fined for errors in filing reports with the Campaign Spending Commission.

12:39 p.m. Duckworth Leaving VA, May Run for Congress

Tammy Duckworth is stepping down from U.S. Veterans Affairs and is weighing a run for the U.S. House from Illinois.

The Iraq war vet, a former Oahu resident, is said to better poised for a run next year than when she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006. That’s because redistricting will likely fill her district with more Democrats.

Dan Inouye earlier this year opined that Duckworth might be a candidate for Dan Akaka‘s U.S. Senate seat, though Duckworth — like Illinois favorite son Barack Obama — has not lived in Hawaii for years. Like Inouye, Duckworth is a McKinley High School graduate.

11:26 a.m. Motor Vehicle Weight Fee, TRO Bills Signed

The governor has signed a bill that raises the state motor vehicle weight fee from $.75 to $1.75 per pound for most cars. The fee increase is higher for heavier vehicles.

The governor signed seven other bills into law as well, including a bill stretching the maximum number of days for a temporary restraining order from 90 to 180 days.

11:26 a.m. $140M to Help Dem Chair’s Energy Biz

Two other bills now signed into law by the governor allow for the issuance of up to $100 million in special purpose revenue bonds to assist BioEnergy Hawaii and up to $40 million for Carbon Bio-Engineers.

Both bills were supported by Dante Carpenter, who has business ties to both companies and is the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

8:55 a.m. Flags at Half-Staff for Fernandes

The governor this morning ordered all national and Hawaii flags at all state offices and agencies and the Hawaii National Guard to be flown at half-staff in honor of former lawmaker and Kauai County Councilman William “Billy” Fernandes.

Fernandes passed away on June 2 at his home in Wailua Homesteads. According to a press release from the administration, Fernandes helped establish the Kauai Racing Association and served on the Kauai Farm Bureau.

Neil Abercrombie called Fernandes “a true son of Hawaii.”

The Governor on ‘Priorities’

In case you missed it because it was a long holiday weekend, Neil Abercrombie‘s latest weekly message is called “It’s Time We Got Our Priorities Straight.”

Excerpt:

The science couldn’t be clearer: we know that our kids are shaped for life in the experiences and interactions they have in their earliest years.

And we know that risk factors that we don’t address during early childhood practically assure poor health outcomes later in life.

In the weekly message the governor makes reference to his announcement last week that he had hired an early childhood coordinator.

The governor, however, makes no reference to his views about the state wasting $4 million a year on the NFL Pro Bowl, though they were broadcast at the early childhood press conference.

Duke on the Governor

Duke Aiona — who tweets as @DukeAiona2010 — tweeted several messages on Friday in response to the governor’s statements on the Pro Bowl.

Two of the tweets directed followers to a Hawaii News Now report and a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article — both from January 2010 — that explained Aiona’s arguments for keeping the Pro Bowl and establishing a state sports commission. That’s old news.

The third tweet, however, was to an Aiona post on Facebook, and it is fresh commentary:

As to pro bowl. Governor Abercrombie’s statement and position on the pro bowl is another example of his lack of business acumen, recognition of this state’s love of the pro bowl, and his commitment to his ideology as opposed to what’s best for the entire state. Lastly, it highlights his lack of diplomacy and aloha for an organization that has given back to this community in so many ways for so many years.

Aiona’s post, as of yesterday, had received 52 “likes,” including this one from Jeffrey Domdoma:

This is why I voted duke aiona!!! I wish the elections were coming up in November 2011. I hope Neil doesn’t destroy our 808!!! We should impeach him before he does more damage!!!

Forbes on the Governor

Forbes magazine’s Sports Money blog yesterday had an item titled, “Is NFL’s Pro Bowl Really Taking Money From Hawaii’s Children?”

Excerpt:

What does not make sense to me is why the governor can’t put some of the profits from Hawaii’s investment from the game into educational and health care programs for children? I did not see that simple question addressed. Then all sides would be happy, right? Hawaii still gets its boon from tourism, the NFL players get a vacation in paradise, the league gets $4 million and the kids get their money, too. But it’s politics. It can’t be that easy, can it?

The blog, by they way, cites a study from the “Hawaii Transit Authority” on how much money the game brings to the state annually. It meant the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that a plea deal “may be in the works” for jailed marijuana minister Roger Christie:

Christie, who’ll turn 62 on Wednesday, was originally scheduled to face a jury last Sept. 8. He’s accused of operating a marijuana distribution ring out of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry in Hilo. He and the others are charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 284 marijuana plants, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum of 40 years if they’re convicted.

A letter from Christie published May 30 in Hawaii News Daily, a blog run by his supporters, claimed that a possible plea bargain “is on the table for consideration.”

“It’s obviously a big deal for each of us faced with a life-altering decision to make, either way we choose to go,” Christie wrote.

The Garden Island reports that the Kauai County Council last week approved a resolution supporting the trapping, neutering and return method of controlling the islands feral cat population:

But while everyone — council members and public present — agreed that the feral cat population must be controlled, there was much disagreement on how such control should be enacted.

“By adopting this program it will be counterproductive to protect our endangered species,” said Michael Mitchell, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Project Manager for the Kauai Refuge Complex. Mitchell said a much cheaper and more successful program would be to trap and remove the cats.

The Maui News reports that Maui County Council members will revisit a proposal to lower the property tax home exemption to $200,000, which would still be the highest in the state:

The Budget and Finance Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in eighth floor Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building to discuss the measure, which had been deferred by council members last year. Under the plan, the exemption would be reduced from the current level of $300,000, the highest in the state.

In the early 2000s, the county’s homeowner tax exemption was as low as $50,000. The council voted to increase the tax break multiple times over several years, as a plan to ease the burden on homeowners who were seeing their property values — and taxes — skyrocket in a booming real estate market.


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