We are live blogging opening day of the 2011 Legislature. Get the latest here.

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4:49 p.m. Say Hangs On to the House

Calvin Say was reelected speaker today by his House colleagues, ending the stalemate. It was a voice vote. There were no nays. A standing ovation by all memebrs followed the vote, which included all representatives.

GOP leaders Gene Ward and Kymberly Pine had spoken in support of Say before the vote.

3:53 p.m. GOP Still A Factor

Several lawmakers tell Civil Beat that the speaker stalemate could still go either way — an agreement among the 42 Democrats, which is preferred for party unity, or accepting the eight Republican votes in support of Calvin Say.

Or, perhaps a combination there of?

Currently, it is the GOP that is in caucus while most Democrats are talking story with each other while they wait until all reconvene at 4 p.m.

Reflecting on the negotiations, two Democrats deeply involved in the speaker debate told Civil Beat, “This is kind of historic.”

“Democracy in action?” I asked.

“Yes,” one responded.

3:21 p.m. Musical Chairs

The state House reconvened at 3:15 p.m. and then quickly went into recess until 4 p.m.

Seen on the House floor were House dissidents huddling with each other, Calvin Say huddling with the eight Republicans, dissidents Jessica Wooley and Cindy Evans speaking with Say, Evans talking with Roy Takumi, Blake Oshiro running around and counting members (it seemed, anyway), Marcus Oshiro will a really loud green-and-yellow tie and other mini-episodes.

At one point Say was seen laughing it up with a couple of other Democrats, a broad smile on his face. He seemed … relaxed.

But I can’t read lips.

1:35 p.m. Twenty-Sixth Vote In Reach?

A high-ranking Democrat tells Civil Beat that Calvin Say will not need Republican votes to be re-elected speaker.

That suggests at least one of the 17 dissidents might jump ship this afternoon (or tomorrow, if need) and give Say the 26 he has long sought.

Another party insider tells Civil Beat the two sides of House Democrats are still negotiating in advance of their 3 p.m. session.

Among other issues at play are whether to limit the term of a speaker, which committee chairs will change and how to handle the tricky issue of reapportionment — where some lawmakers may be adversely affected because of demographic changes.

1:16 p.m. Gov Says House Leadership ‘Not My Business’

Meeting with reporters shortly after opening ceremonies concluded, Neil Abercrombie said he did not expect the protracted drama over House leadership to impact his own agenda, “although there may be some logistical questions — I’m not quite sure how the committee system and all that is going to work.”

The governor said he is not involved in “tipping the scales” in the speaker dilemma and said he was trying to hold off on appointing a replacement to fill Maile Shimabukuro‘s seat so as to not influence the vote.

Shimabukuro, appointed to the state Senate, was a member of the House dissidents. Abercrombie said, however, that he hoped to name the appointment as early as this week.

The governor said he is in communication with House members in order to push legislation through, and he said he was pleased that Blake Oshiro made reference to the governor’s New Day plan in Oshiro’s brief remarks in House chambers this morning.

Asked about civil unions, an issue which Oshiro had earlier said remains alive and ready for debate, Abercrombie said, “We need to move expeditiously on those things … it’s crystal clear what needs to be done. These are constitutional rights.”

Asked about the Arizona shootings, his former colleague Gabrielle Giffords and political rhetoric, the governor said he believed “Hawaii is on the verge of perhaps being able to give a living example of how people who have had occasion to differ with one another pretty deeply can nonetheless come together around commons themes for the common good and work together.”

Asked about what he would do about the budget, the governor said, “Tune in Monday.”

Abercrombie will deliver his state of the state address that day.

12:36 p.m. Open House, Free Food

Lawmakers have opened their office doors and are serving food and beverages to anyone who shows up.

People are also roaming all five floors of the Capitol and still milling about in the Rotunda.

The talk of the Capitol: What happened with the vote on speaker?

Many are only finding out now that the House will reconvene at 3 p.m. to possibly vote on the matter.

12 p.m. Senate Festivities Pau, House Recessed

The audience calls out for a “hana hou” from Willie K, but he replies that he has to leave to catch a plane.

People slowly file out of the Senate chambers. The Senate is adjourned until 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. Meanwhile, the House is recessed until 3 p.m.

Some lawmakers are holding private receptions in their offices.

11:45 a.m. Winding Down with Willie K

Entertainer Willie K, wearing socks but no shoes, takes stage with his guitar saying, “They save the Hawaiian ‘kanak’ for last.”

“After all this entertainment, you guys better work hard,” he says glancing back at Sen. Tsutsui, who gives him a thumbs up.

He’s got Sen. Inouye tapping his fingers on his cane and bobbing his head to “Henehene Kou Aka.”

11:25 a.m. Society of Seven

It’s standing room only as the Society of Seven takes the stage in the Senate. People in the gallery are clapping along and tapping their feet. The group reminds the audience that they perform Tuesday through Saturday at the Outrigger Waikiki hotel.

11:15 a.m. More Senate Business

Sen. Tsutsui calls for nominations for vice president of the Senate. Sen. Donna Mercado Kim is re-nominated and quickly confirmed with all “ayes.”

11:10 a.m. Naauao Brings House To Its Feet

Sean Naauao and Friends are rocking the House with local favorites like “Hiilawe” and “Drop Baby Drop.”

Neil Abercrombie and Brian Schatz are in the front row,  clapping in time. It’s an audience sing-a-long!

Even House members are smiling … finally.

11:00 a.m. Children’s Chorus

The sign language translator in the Senate is having trouble keeping up with the singing by the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus as they sing “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” (featured in the Disney movie “Lilo and Stitch”).

10:58 a.m. Minority Retort

From prepared remarks by Gene Ward:

Today marks a very critical juncture in our state’s history. We have a $800 million state deficit to fill, jobs to create, and an economy to turn around and a new system of educational governance to establish. It is going to be a busy and intense session, but I am confident, optimistic and quite positive – if we work together, it will be a very good session.

10:42 a.m. Where’s the Promised Fireworks?

Quite a number of people in the House chamber gallery are whispering, “When’s it going to start?”

Many showed up, it seems, to watch democracy in action — in other words, a vote on speaker. But, as reported earlier, that seems scheduled for another time, perhaps this afternoon.

Mark Recktenwald is now swearing in the House members.

10:37 a.m. The Lone Ranger

Sen. Slom takes the stand.

“On behalf of the entire Senate minority, aloha!”

He breaks out a toy pony and dons a cowboy hat.

“Some people have referred to me as ‘The Lone Ranger’ because throughout the entire United States I am the only single party senator in a State Legislature. The Ranger may have been ‘lone’ but he was a good guy, unafraid of the odds against him, and he was able to inspire the townspeople to join together and act for their common defense. I will strive to live up to that reputation.”

10:30 a.m. Tsutsui’s Speech Highlights

The newly confirmed Senate president opens saying “better days are ahead.”

He tells the audience that all 25 state senators are “humbled and privileged” to begin a new chapter in Hawaii’s history and begin a time of healing and rebuilding.

He notes the budget shortfalls the state is facing. He says that depending on tourism may provide benefits today, but not supportive for generations to come.

He says the recent forecast by the state Council on Revenues and with “an administration that is committed to get people back to work, your Senate is hopeful that better days are ahead.”

10:26 a.m. Procedure, Then Entertainment

The House, following its required rules, agreed upon a temporary chair and committee of credentials to keep the 50-member body in business (one Democratic seat is vacant).

There was no discussion, and the faces of many members appear somber.

The Moanalua String Ensemble is now performing a piece appropriate to the mood of the room.

This morning’s ceremony will conclude in about 20 minutes or so with a benediction by the Rev. Eric Matsumoto of the Moiliili Hongwanji Mission.

10:20 a.m. Roll Call

During roll call, all senators reply with a simple “here” or “present.” Sen. Sam Slom, however, declares: “Still here!”

Shan Tsutsui confirmed as president of the Senate. Receives standing ovation and lengthy claps.

10:12 a.m. Taking Care of Business

The Senate gets right to business:

Carol Taniguchi is nominated and appointed temporary clerk of the Senate.

Sens. Brickwood Galuteria, Michelle Kidani and Sam Slom are appointed to the Committee on Credentials.

The group has recessed to consider the appointments of Malama Solomon, Maile Shimabukuro and Gilbert Kahele to fill vacancies in the Senate.

After a quick meeting, they’re back: Solomon, Shimabukuro and Kahele have been confirmed as “legally elected.”

Mark Recktenwald swearing the three in now.

10:11 a.m Ecumenical Invocation

Rep. Mark Nakashima has opened the House ceremony.

Up shortly: an ecumenical invocation by Kamaki Kanahele.

Will the Christian god be mentioned?

Yes! “Our almighty Father in Heaven, this House is in shambles … hard times all around.”

Problems can not be solved if session “opens divided … with griping, grumbling … if they have differences, let them settle them … Heavenly Father, hold this House together from this day forward …. this is the saddest ‘Hawaii Ponoi’ I have heard in these many years … “

10:05 a.m. Ceremonies Begin

Sen. Malama Solomon calls the Senate to order.

Danny Kaleikini opens with Hawaii Ponoi, then before singing the national anthem, declares, “God bless America,” followed by several “amens” from the crowd.

10:04 a.m. VIP City

In House chambers, friends, family and other guests of lawmakers are sitting in seats provided by the lawmakers on the floor.

They include John Henry Felix, Laura Thielen, Charles Djou and High Court Justices James Duffy, Simeon Acoba and Paula Nakayama.

Waikiki Rep. Tom Brower has grown a goatee during the interim and today is wearing what appears to be a black leather suit a la Elvis circa early 1970s.

In the Senate, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz have arrived along with Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle; former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue, former Gov. Ben Cayetano also are among the crowd.

9:50 a.m. Spotted Among the Crowd in the House

Jim Tollefson, president and CEO of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce; Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald; Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association; Robbie Alm, senior vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co.; and former Gov. John Waihee.

9:49 a..m. Rubbing It In?

The Senate has issued a press release reminding everyone of its leadership:

President Shan S. Tsutsui, Vice President Donna Mercado Kim, Majority Leader: Brickwood Galuteria, Assistant Majority Leader Michelle N. Kidani, Majority Policy Leader Les Ihara, Jr., Majority Floor Leader Will Espero,  Majority Caucus Leader Ronald D. Kouchi, Majority Whips Suzanne Chun Oakland and Jill N. Tokuda and Minority Leader/Floor Leader Sam Slom.

Lacking official leadership, the House has issued no press release.

But Civil Beat did spy Roy Takumi walking around the rotunda. He is wearing a long green ti leaf lei and sporting a button on his suit lapel that reads “No War.”

9:32 a.m. Other Agendas

The Capitol is a public building, and thus prime real estate for protest.

A gentleman named Michael Daly has rolled out a black banner that reads, “Hawaii — The Fake State.” He told Civil Beat he has a website, www.killstatehood.com.

That he does. Its mission:

To educate the public about
the fraudulence of the State of Hawaii
as projected by the USA and
to explain and advance
the independent nation of Hawai`i.

Meanwhile, a man with an upside-down state flag is waving it near the Queen Liliuokalani Statue on the makai side of the Capitol.

Finally, there is a biker carrying a sign shaped like a cross. It reads, “Jesus Loves You.”

9:25 a.m. Senators Trickling In

Sens. Clarence Nishihara and Suzanne Chun Oakland are the first to arrive in the chambers. According to the agenda, Senate members and guests are supposed to take their seats at 9:30. Draped in color lei, Nishihara took a few moments to find his nameplate among the desks.

University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood and UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw have arrived as well. Sen. Daniel Inouye is also in the House.

9:15 a.m. Still Stalemated

The House remains divided over speaker, and Calvin Say may be feeling pressure to take those eight Republican votes after all.

Whether Say’s supporters would accept the GOP is the big question. Some may choose to bolt from his coalition.

But it all comes down to numbers: 25 for Say, 17 dissidents and eight Republicans. The magic number is 26.

Unless the stalemate is broken in the next 45 minutes, the House is expected to keep its opening ceremony on the light side and reconvene this afternoon — perhaps as late as 3 p.m. — after the crowds have gone away.

8:55 a.m. Boersema Helping Senate

The Senate has a new director of communications: Jim Boersema, who replaces Richard Rapoza.

Boersema has years of experience working with political campaigns via Starr Seigele Communications. He also helped with Neil Abercrombie‘s run for governor last year.

8:50 a.m. Waiting for Doors to Open

A kahu dressed in a red kikepa is chanting an oli and blowing a conch shell around the “Reflecting Pool” mural in the middle of the rotunda.

About two dozen ticket holders and guests have formed a line outside the Senate chambers. On the opposite end, not much of a crowd outside the House chambers and no signs about needing tickets to get in.

8:37 a.m. House Schedule Is Vague

The House has finally released the program for its opening day ceremony. No lawmaker, however, is listed as speaking.

In all likelihood, Gene Ward will give a speech on behalf of the minority party. As for the Democrats, unless the question of speaker is settled before 10 a.m., it’s not clear who will give the party’s speech. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported this morning it may be Majority Leader Blake Oshiro; the idea is to not air dirty laundry until all the VIPs have left the Capitol before getting on with the votes on who will be speaker.

This we do know: Sean Naauao will sing “Hawaii Ponoi.”

8:18 a.m. Tsutsui Still Practicing Speech

The House and Senate chambers don’t open until 9 a.m., so Senate President Shan Tsutsui is taking advantage of the near-empty Senate chamber to practice delivering his speech from the podium. At age 39, he is the youngest Senate president since statehood and the first in several decades from the neighbor islands (in this case, Maui).

From Now Until Sine Die

Lights! Cameras! Lei! Keiki o ka aina!

The Capitol will be full of flowers, food and music as the 26th Legislature officially opens.

Separate speeches and entertainment are scheduled for both the Senate and House chambers, and Neil Abercrombie and Dan Inouye are among the many VIPS expected to attend. Everyone dresses up for the occasion.

Festivities begin around 10 a.m. and should be pau well before noon — with the caveat that know one really knows what it going to happen in the House.

The two opposing camps of House Democrats were scrambling to hammer out a power-sharing compromise before today — a deal that would leave House Republicans out of the mix.


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