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.
4:37 p.m. Hanabusa ‘Broke Her Promise’
Colleen Hanabusa has been a U.S. representative for all of 10 hours now, but Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jonah Kaauwai thinks she’s already screwed up.
“On her first day at work in Congress, Rep. Hanabusa has broken her first campaign promise,” he said in a statement. “Rep. Hanabusa and Senator Inouye assured voters last October that she would get a seat on the powerful Appropriation Committee if elected and that has turned out to be nothing more than an empty campaign promise. It is disappointing that they would make such an important promise to the voters just to score political points. We need honest leaders who will live up to the commitments they make to voters, not politicians who will say anything to get elected.”
The promise of Hanabusa gaining a seat on the Appropriations Committee, according to the local GOP, was announced by Inouye in reaction to then-House Minority Leader John Boehner announcing that Charles Djou would be placed on the Committee if re-elected.
What Inouye actually said, according to the Associated Press, was less declarative and only under the circumstance that Nancy Pelosi remained speaker: “I’ve been told that she will get on the Appropriations Committee.”
Civil Beat is waiting to hear back from Hanabusa about Kaauwai’s charge.
4:02 p.m. Inouye’s Still Excited
Vice President Joe Biden swore in U.S. senators today in the Senate chamber in the U.S. Capitol, including Dan Inouye, who had this to say:
“As I begin my ninth term, I’m reminded of how excited I was in 1963, when the people of Hawaii first entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them in the United States Senate. That excitement and anticipation is still alive, however, this is also a moment of reflection and memories. The faces I saw when I first walked down that aisle to take the oath of office are now a part of history. Mike Mansfield, Richard Russell, Everett Dirksen and many, many others. I learned a lot from those lions of the Senate and I am prepared to tackle the challenges that await me at the start of the 112th Congress.”
Inouye added, “There is so much work to be done at a critical time for Hawaii.”
CJ Leong, longtime assistant chief clerk at the state House of Representatives, sent a copy of her resignation letter to House members this week.
No reason was given for her departure, according to House Spokeswoman Georgette Deemer. Civil Beat also left a message with Leong.
Different explanations for Leong’s departure are circulating around the Capitol — the top one being the great uncertainty over House leadership. One thing most agree on is that she will be missed.
In other House news, Linda Oamilda and John Moriyama, longtime director and deputy director of the House Majority Staff Office, respectively, resigned during the legislative interim period. Deemer said the House had “no response” when asked about the circumstances involving the resignations.
11:14 a.m. New Public Park for Puna?
Th Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the Hawaii County Council has voted in favor of adding a $5.5 million project to its capital improvements budget to build a new public park in Puna’s Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision.
“Supporters of the HPP park have pushed strongly for its establishment because of the lack of public recreational facilities throughout the Puna district, and especially on the stretch between Keaau and Pahoa,” the paper says. “Others have said the establishment of a park in a private subdivision would bring its own issues, including liability concerns and added wear on the subdivision’s roads.”
9:02 a.m. Senate Seeks To Settle Law Suit
The state Senate Democratic Caucus is looking to settle a lawsuit generated by a physical altercation in and just outside Senate chambers last April 29.
Mitch Kahle of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church and colleague Kevin Hughes allege they were roughed up by Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Ben Villaflor and several deputy sheriffs after Kahle and company verbally disrupted a Senate invocation.
Kahle charges that the invocations are a First Amendment violation. The incident can be viewed here.
One option for dropping the suit, Capitol Watch has learned, is for the Senate to drop its invocation.
Kahle has pushed the Honolulu City Council to approve new rules that would prohibit sectarian invocations and proselytizing before Council meetings.
Money, Money, Money!
The Senate Ways and Means committee continues its round of informational budget briefings today.
On tap for 9 a.m. in Conference Room 211 at the Capitol are the Department of Taxation and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
At 1:30 p.m., also in Conference Room 211, the Department of Education will make its presentation, followed by the Department of Defense.
Hexavalent Chromium 6!
Josh Green‘s Health Committee and Mike Gabbard‘s Energy and Environment Committee will meet jointly at 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 229 at the Capitol to hear from the Department of Health on Hawaii’s tap water
Hexavalent Chromium 6, a cancer-causing toxin, was recently found in a single water sample taken from a tap in Kaimuki.
It took her four elections, but Colleen Hanabusa‘s long journey to Washington officially ends — and begins — when she is sworn in as a freshmen Democrat in the 112th U.S. Congress.
The ceremony is set for 7 a.m. Hawaii time. Prior to that — at 6:10 a.m. HST — Hanabusa will do a 20-minute live interview on C-SPAN.
Mazie Hirono is holding a “Saimin with Mazie” gathering in her D.C. office from 1:30-4 p.m. EST to celebrate the swearing in of the 112th Congress.
“Hot saimin (a noodle dish unique to Hawaii similar to Japanese ramen) and other treats from Hawaii will be served,” according to her official website.
If you are in D.C., stop by 1410 Longworth House Office Building.