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.

4:10 p.m. Big Island Senator Named

Neil Abercrombie this afternoon picked Gilbert Kahele to fill the seat vacated by Russell Kokubun.

The Hawaii County state Senate district includes Waiakea Uka, Kalapana, Volcano and Kahuku.

Kahele, 68, is a former Marine who later worked for the Department of Defense. He is a former chairman of the Hawaii County Police Commission and served as the East Hawaii Democratic Party vice chairman in 2008.

2:45 p.m. Legislator Seeks DNA Swabs From Violent Suspects

Numerous interest groups will have a list of bills for the new legislative session, and they include lawmakers who put together the Women’s Caucus Legislative Package.

House Republican Barbara Marumoto, a longtime caucus member, wants to require collection of DNA swabs from people arrested for violent crimes and sexual offenses against minors. She also wants to impound vehicles involved in prostitution.

Marumoto also would like to establish a lupus task force in the Department of Health and have the state recognize, in the month of May, the debilitating effects of the disease.

12:31 p.m. OHA’s Wish List

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has a proposed a package of legislation for the 2011 Legislature’s consideration.

The nine proposals include calling for a tuition waiver for Native Hawaiian students attending UH campuses, environmental assessments and environmental impact statements include cultural impact assessments on Native Hawaiian culture, a task force to address OHA’s “The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System” study and training for all council, board and commission members with authority over trust assets.

OHA also wants lawmakers to pass a resolution requiring the Legislative Reference Bureau to identify state laws that may need to be amended after passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (currently lacking a pulse). And, OHA is working on draft language for a bill to settle the $200 million ceded-land revenue issue between OHA and the state.

10:36 a.m. Tackling the Federal Budget

Colleen Hanabusa was one of six U.S. House freshmen interviewed by The Fiscal Times to share their top budget goals.

The article reveals “stark differences in how they plan to tackle prickly budget and spending issues during the 112th session of Congress.”

Here’s an excerpt from Hanabusa’s interview:

To me, cutting willy-nilly is not the answer. You could talk about cutting the budget, cutting services and everything else, but the bottom line is we’ve got to define what government needs to do. It needs to protect Social Security and Medicare, and help those who are unemployed through no fault of their own.

9:35 a.m. Civil Unions Climate ‘Favorable’

KITV has a report that says supporters of civil unions believe 2011 will be their year.

“Overall, it looks favorable. Nothing’s done until the final vote, but we’re gonna work hard and it looks optimistic,” said Blake Oshiro, the main backer of the proposal.

Oshiro would like to move on the legislation early in the session so lawmakers can focus on the budget and jobs. Neil Abercrombie has said he would sign a civil unions bill.

But another Democrat, John Mizuno, who voted against HB 444 last year, says a civil unions bill should be thoroughly vetted.

8:46 a.m. Pro-Gun Advocate to Speak at Plaza Club

Hawaii Concealed Carry and the Hawaii Defense Foundation are sponsoring a talk titled “More Guns, Less Crime” Feb. 15 in Honolulu.

The speaker is John R. Lott, Jr., author of a book of the same title and a person “known for taking conservative positions on a wide range of political issues,” according to a Wikipedia profile.

Here’s Lott’s blog post today: “The horrible attack that has left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously wounded and six others dead has not brought out the best in many people. Ugly political opportunism looks to have led many into making statements they will soon regret. Within hours without knowing anything about the attacker’s background or motives, many started blaming Sarah Palin and the tea party.”

Lott’s talk at the Plaza Club will address gun control and public policy.

Hawaii Concealed Carry describes itself as a “single-issue group formed with the mission to promote the restoration of Second Amendment rights contained within the constitution, the right of the people to keep and bear arms…Our philosophy is that through responsible use, education, communication, and understanding we can promote a safer environment for Hawaii residents, while reducing crime, and supporting our fundamental constitutional rights.”

Hear, Hear, Hearings

The 2011 session doesn’t begin until Jan. 19, but there’s a full slate of business at the state Capitol today nonetheless.

• The Senate Ways and Means committee will hear from the Department of Human Services and its attached agencies at 9:30 a.m.. The topic is money and services.

• The House Finance Committee will hear from the Department of Human Resources Development at 9 a.m. in room in Conference Room 308 and from the Department of Transportation at 1:30 p.m. in the same room.

• The Legislature’s Illegal Fireworks Task Force will issue its report at 10 a.m. at Conference Room 309. Lawmakers previously gave the counties the authority to restrict fireworks.

The Legislature may consider giving the state Department of Transportation the authority to inspect shipping containers — something it is lukewarm about unless there are funds to pay for it.

• Also at 10 a.m., but in Conference Room 225, the Oversight Commission on the Legislative Federal Economic Stimulus Program will discuss its report.

• At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 016, two Senate committees will try to learn more about recent security breaches involving the University of Hawaii and other agencies. Presenters include state and county officials.

• At 1:30 p.m. in Conference Room 229, two Senate committees will get an update on the status of the neighbor island wind and interisland cable projects. Presenters include Hawaiian Electric Company, Castle & Cooke, the company First Wind and Lanaians for Sensible Growth.

Catch up on our previous coverage:

About the Author