Welcome to Capitol Watch. It’s the halfway point at the Hawaii Legislature and hundreds of bills are still moving. Meanwhile the state’s growing budget deficit takes center stage. Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

3:38 p.m. Local GOP: Gov’s 1st 100 Days ‘Bad For Hawaii’

In recognition of Neil Abercrombie‘s 100th day in office, the Hawaii Republican Party released a list of his 10 worst broken campaign promises.

You can read the list here, but here’s the takeaway:

Bad for tax increases, bad for trust in government, bad for seniors, bad for transparency, bad for bipartisanship, bad for public safety, bad for fiscal responsibility.

1:49 p.m. Lawmakers To Inspect Keehi Lagoon Damage

Six members of the state House will visit the Keehi Small Boat Harbor to assess damages caused by the tsunami.

The harbor, located in Sand Island off of Nimitz Highway near Honolulu International Airport, was among the most-damaged areas on Oahu.

The reps, all Democrats, are Henry Aquino, Karen Awana, Tom Brower, Ty Cullen, Ryan Yamane and Joey Manahan.

12:33 p.m. Hanabusa Slams GOP On Tsunami Alert Cuts

Responding to the U.S. House’s latest short-term spending bill, Colleen Hanabusa released a statement that says in part:

Even after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan — which was followed by tsunami warnings around the Pacific Rim — the GOP still cut more than $117 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The cuts include $99.2 million from NOAA’s budget for operations, research, and facilities; and $18 million cut from NOAA’s budget for procurement, acquisition and construction.

The GOP bill, according to Hanabusa, also cuts funding for watershed and flood prevention operations at Lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project, Upcountry Maui Watershed Project, and Wailuku-Alenaio Watershed Project.

11:25 a.m. Inouye Seeks Relief On Kalaupapa Airfares

There is only one scheduled commercial carrier that serves Kalaupapa on Molokai, and it currently charges about $550 for a roundtrip between the isolated peninsula and Honolulu.

The Molokai Dispatch now reports that Dan Inouye has invited federal transportation director Ray LaHood to meet at the State Capitol March 25 with Kalaupapa’s Hansen’s disease patients. The patients and area workers have been in negotiations with Pacific Wings about the exorbitant airfares.

According to The Molokai Dispatch:

Mark Miller, Department of Health administrator for the Kalaupapa Settlement, said Kalaupapa is special place that requires unique treatment.

“In other remote areas, such as on the mainland, you could just drive forty miles and get a cheaper flight, but we have absolutely no way to get out of here except by airplane,” Miller said.

One possible relief is a federal subsidy to lower the flight costs.

9:48 a.m. Governor Touring Tsunami Damage, AG Warns of Charity Scams

Neil Abercrombie and other officials are visiting areas damaged by last week’s tsunami, damages that are estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars.

The governor began his tour at 7 a.m. and is expected to complete it by 4 p.m.

In related news, Attorney General David Louie has issued an alert for donors and consumers regarding tsunami relief in Japan. Louie said in a statement:

“Hawaii residents are eager to extend a helping hand in this time of great suffering to our friends in Japan. Unfortunately, if our experience with earlier tragedies is any guide, we suspect that there may be so-called ‘charities’ that will try to take advantage of donors’ generosity by scamming people out of donations intended for disaster victims.”

The AG’s office advises the following:

  • Don’t contribute cash. Make a check or money order payable to the charitable organization, not an individual.

  • Consider giving to organizations that have a strong history in providing disaster relief, and ask about what percentage of the donation will benefit the relief effort.

  • Don’t fall for high-pressure tactics. Ask questions, and give only when comfortable that the donation will be applied to help the cause. Remember that legitimate charities won’t pressure consumers to donate and will provide as much information as a consumer seeks.

  • To avoid sham solicitations, contact the charity directly before giving a donation by e-mail or to a door-to-door solicitor.

  • Be wary of names that sound similar to reputable organizations. Scam artists may sometimes use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate charities.

Louie says consumers should review the AG’s database of registered charitable organizations on their website.

House Finance Gets Nat’l Update

At 1:30 p.m. in Conference Room 308 is scheduled a briefing featuring two experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The agenda items are right up Hawaii’s alley: Current fiscal conditions of all states; strategies being employed to meet budget shortfalls, budget structural challenges, status of pension systems in all states and egislation being proposed in states to deal with issues such as unfunded liabilities.

Kona Coffee Leader Honored

The state House will recognize during floor session at noon the contributions of Norman Sakata, President and Chairman of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.

Sakata, who has been involved with the festival for nearly 40 years, was also a scout leader whose eagle scouts included Elison Onizuka.

A press release from the House says, “Inspired by his blind grandmother, Norman Sakata also founded the Lion’s Club Eye Bank, which has contributed the gift of vision to more than 4,000 recipients and has helped to raise over $300,000 in donations.”

Education Week at the Capitol

Today’s agenda includes an Early Learning Council Framework Presentation and Breakfast from 7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. in Conference Room 224. Preschoolers are scheduled to perform.

A robotics demonstration by several high school teams is set for 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Rotunda.

UH engineering, medicine and nursing, science technology and digital media programs will have open house and demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Conference Rooms 224 and 225.

And Hiki No, a statewide “news network,” will present video and displays from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Conference Room 229.

Resolutions: Foie Gras, Reagan Day

Senate Agriculture is scheduled to hear two resolutions that urge the purchase, sale and distribution of only “humanely produced” foie gras.

And Senate Public Safety, Gov’t Operations and Military Affairs is scheduled to hear a resolution declaring Feb. 6, 2011, as Ronald Reagan Day. (That was the centennial anniversary of the former president’s birth.)

Bills: Vog Study, Disaster Preparedness

Senate Public Safety, Gov’t Operations and Military Affairs is scheduled to hear bills on a vog study and action plan and creating an Office of Disaster Preparedness and a Disaster Preparedness Commission to develop a disaster preparedness plan.

Bills: Liquor Tax, Tobacco Fund

Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection is scheduled ro hear bills raising the liquor tax, though not on small brewpubs; and House Health is scheduled to hear a bill that take Tobacco Fund money and puts it into the general fund.

Bills: Sick Leave, Medical Pot

Two House committees are scheduled to hear the sick leave bill that prohibits employers of workers covered by collective bargaining to punish the workers for taking accrued sick leave.

And, two other House committees are scheduled to hear the bill making medical marijuana more accessible through licensing, sales and distribution centers.

Bills: Whistleblowers, Voting Registration

Senate Judiciary and Labor is scheduled to hear bills that increase protection for whistleblowers exposing violation of government contracts and require online voting registration through the State Elections Office.

Aloha Tower, Space Tourism

Senate Water, Land and Housing is scheduled to hear a bill abolishing Aloha Tower Development Corporation and transfer its assets to the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

And House Economic Revitalization and Business is scheduled to hear a bill that would pay for the state applying for a federal space port license.


Catch up on our previous week’s coverage:

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