Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s a new governor, new leadership at the Legislature and other government branches, and Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.
2:16 p.m. Jonah, Colleen, Mazie and Taxes
Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jonah Kaauwai is asking Colleen Hanabusa to pressure Mazie Hirono to support President Obama’s tax compromise measure.
Kaauwai said: “We are disappointed that, despite bipartisan efforts to achieve real results for the American People, Congresswoman Hirono continues to cater to the ultra-liberal wing of the Democrat Party. We hope that Congresswoman-elect Hanabusa does not follow her lead and will instead call upon Congresswoman Hirono to end her opposition on this critical compromise and join the rest of Hawaii’s delegation in supporting President Obama.”
Representative-elect Hanabusa, says Kaauwai, has not publicly taken any position on this matter, “but during the campaign repeatedly stated she would work to support President Obama’s agenda if elected.”
12:04 p.m. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ — Don’t Vote
Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye were among the group of 57 senators that fell three votes short in the U.S. Senate today to block a Republican filibuster on repealing the military’s policy on gays. Had there been 60 votes, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy would have been subject to a simple majority vote.
The repeal was part of a major defense authorization bill. One Democrat and a number of moderate Republicans sided with the 40 opposed to the repeal.
Hawaii’s senators, both World War II veterans, strongly believe DADT is discriminatory and contrary to the interest of the nation’s defense.
11:11 a.m. Hirono Opposes Obama Tax Plan
Mazie Hirono today joined the House Democratic Caucus in rejecting President Obama‘s compromise with Republicans on extending former President Bush‘s tax cuts.
The Democrats supported a resolution in a closed meeting that said members would “oppose the bill in its current form” — a nonbinding measure but one that shows that Democrats don’t like the idea of continuing tax cuts for the richest Americans and cutting a deal on the estate tax.
Charles Djou likes the plan, Dan Inouye says he’ll hold his nose and support it and Dan Akaka will do so as well but with “strong reservations about continuing tax cuts for the wealthy that recklessly add to the deficit and our national debt.”
The action by House Democrats on Obama’s tax plan does not mean it is dead for good, however.
Candidate names for vacancies in state House and Senate seats are selected by precinct officials familiar with a district’s grassroots. In Hanabusa’s case, she resigned Nov. 30 from her District 21 seat (the Waianae Coast), so precinct officials have 21 days from that date to come up with three names. The party then has three days after that to get the names to the governor’s desk. He then appoints the replacement.
Big Island Sen. Dwight Takamine resigned Dec. 6 to take a job in the administration, while another Big Isle senator, Russell Kokubun, has yet to officially resign to also go to work in the administration, according to Party Chairman Dante Carpenter.
Carpenter said it was likely both men would be replaced before the Legislature opens for business Jan. 19, adding that the new members represent an “interesting dynamic” because all three new senators are not part of the existing leadership structure in the Senate. And, should any of the three Senate seats be filled by a sitting state House member (say, Maile Shimabukuro filling Hanabusa’s shoes), a new House member’s vote could impact the ongoing leadership struggle in that chamber.
Neil Shindig at the Hilton
Neil Abercrombie‘s inaugural gala is at the Hilton Hawaiian Village tonight. Tickets for tables ain’t cheap — they start at $2,500 and go up to $10,000 for a table of 10.
Word is tickets are going fast. Proceeds go to pay for the governor’s inaugural ceremony and festivities.
DLNR Hunts Hunters
Even though it held public hearings last month, the Department of Land and Natural Resources wants to hear from more hunters about proposed rule changes.
So, DLNR has extended the comment period until Jan. 10 so more folks can weigh in on amendments regulating game bird and mammal hunting, field trials and commercial shooting preserves.