Welcome to Capitol Watch. The Hawaii Legislature is in full swing and Gov. Neil Abercrombie is delivering straight talk that’s not always welcome. Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

11:52 a.m. Hunting Bill Raises Concerns

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Senate Bill 1367, which would repeal the definition of “game mammal” and remove restrictions on the hunting of these animals, is encountering Big Isle opposition.

Hawaii should ease hunting restrictions to control ungulate populations that have “exploded” due to “inadequate” control measures, according to a bill before the state Legislature.

Senate Bill 1367 would allow nighttime hunting on private land, remove rules prohibiting the use of certain pistols and allow the state to eradicate animals that harm “aquatic life.”

But what seems like a pro-hunting bill is generating opposition from Big Island hunters. It also appears to be stalled before a Senate committee whose vice chairwoman hasn’t read the measure.

There is an “urgent need to reduce the number of … wild pigs, goats, sheep and deer,” states the bill Sen. Les Ihara Jr., D-Oahu, introduced at the request of an unnamed person.

Mainland-style hunting restrictions imposed in the 1950s haven’t controlled those populations, according to the bill.

Abercrombie Reveals The Budget

The governor, Budget Director Kalbert Young and staff will unveil the administration’s budget at 2 p.m. today in executive chambers at the Capitol.

The press conference will serve as a prelude to a joint Senate Ways and Means and House Finance committees hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol Auditorium, with Young’s office presenting the governor’s proposed biennium budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

It’s a critical moment at the Legislature; expect tough questions from the media and lawmakers and frank answers from the administration. But, at least we aren’t living in Wisconsin.

Government In The Business Of Marriage

Civil unions will become law Wednesday when the governor signs Senate Bill 232 at a ceremony a Washington Place. You already know that.

What you may not know is that a handful of measures intended to preserve heterosexual marriage and head off civil unions and same-sex marriage were also introduced at the Legislature this session.

They include House Bill 165 and Senate Bill 863, both of which call for ballot questions on constitutional amendments that effectively ban same-sex marriage. The former was introduced by John Mizuno, the latter by Sam Slom, and neither got a hearing.

Mizuno and Slom voted “no” on SB 232.

Mizuno is also the author of House Bill 164, which calls for a “ConAm” (in Ledge lingo) to allow same-sex marriage by defining a marriage as a legal relationship between two people. Presumably, Mizuno believes a majority would vote against it.

HB 164 is dead too.

Another Mizuno measure, House Bill 163, would extend benefits under the Hawaii Employer-Union Benefit Trust Fund to reciprocal beneficiaries and allow “RB’s” to jointly file state income tax returns and live in the same community care foster family home.

HB 163 is dead.

Dead as well is House Bill 741, which would authorize persons authorized to grant marriage licenses to grant certificates of reciprocal beneficiary status to qualified persons. HB 741 comes from Cindy Evans, who voted for SB 232 this year but voted against HB 444 on civil unions last year — by my count, the only sitting legislator to change his or her mind on the matter.

(UPDATE: A kind reader with greater counting skills than mine says Ken Ito also switched votes.)

House Bill 1653 is also dead. Introduced by eight Democrats who voted for SB 232, HB 1653 would require Hawaii state courts to recognize marriages “legal in the United States’ jurisdiction in which they were contracted.”

Finally, Senate Bill 195 would establish a “Hawaii Couples on the Brink Project” under the University of Hawaii “to promote marriage reconciliation.” It would also raise the marriage license fee, establishes a special fund and make an unspecified appropriation.

SB 195 was introduced by three senators who voted for SB 232 and two who voted against. One of the “nos” was Mike Gabbard who, on the Senate floor the day of the final vote on SB 232, said government should get out of the marriage business.

SB 195 is dead, dead, dead.

Catch up on our previous week’s coverage:

About the Author