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.

5:15 p.m. Senate Committee Approves Fuddy for DOH

Loretta Fuddy‘s appointment to lead the Health Department was approved by Senate Health today.

It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

2:44 p.m. Governor Appoints Wildman to 2nd Circuit Court

Neil Abercrombie has selected Joseph L. Wildman to be a judge on the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit. He fills the vacancy on the court left by Judge Joel E. August, who retires today.

Wildman served as an arbitrator in the Court Annexed Arbitration Program. Since 2004, he has worked at the Maui firm Takitani & Agaran.

Judicial appointees are subject to the consent of the state Senate.

1:01 p.m. Dancing for a Dancing Bill

Members of Maui Dance Advocates — flew from Maui to Oahu this week to show their support for House Bill 1339, which requires county liquor commissions to adopt or amend rules regarding conduct of patrons and to define the term “dancing.”

The bill was introduced by Maui lawmaker Kyle Yamashita.

Maui Dance Advocates, an unincorporated association “dedicated to fighting for the right to dance in Maui county,” supports HB 1339 because unpermitted dancing in places where liquor is served is not allowed by order of the Liquor Commission.

The dancers’ message to lawmakers was simple: Aa I Ka Hula (Dare to Dance).

To that end, they blasted the song “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats (“We can dance if we want to / We can leave your friends behind …”) in Capitol hallways and in the Rotunda and danced along.

Check it out:

11:50 a.m. Free Car Show Tickets For Lawmakers Recalled

Dave Rolf of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association had offered complimentary “Gold ANYDAY” tickets to the First Hawaiian International Auto Show at the Hawaii Convention Center this weekend.

But, in a March 16 letter to all state senators and representatives, Rolf said the free tickets “have caused concern” by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

“To avoid any levbel of concern I’ll come by your legisaltive office to retrieve them today,” Rold wrote. “I humbly apologize and hope that it doesn’t cause too much inconvenience.”

A ticket costs only $7, well under the Ethics Commission’s suggestion that gifts exceeding $25 be reported by lawmakers.

But the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association is an organization that has business before the Legislature, and Rolf is a registered lobbyist.

9:01 p.m. School Cell-Phone Ban Proposed

Senate Education is scheduled to hear a resolution asking the BOE to consider implementing a ban on student use of cell phones at schools.

The resolution argues, among other things, that use of cell phones by students during class is “disruptive and distracting” and may “undermine academic integrity and to facilitate such negative behavior as gang activity.”

As well, the resolution notes that 41 percent of parents “are concerned about their child being exposed to sexual predators via text messaging.”

8:09 a.m. Akaka Co-Sponsors Nuclear Safety Bill

Dan Akaka and Thomas Carper of Delaware yesterday introduced the Furthering International Nuclear Safety Act of 2011, a bill the senators say “would enhance worldwide cooperation on nuclear safety.”

Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska will introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

In a statement, Akaka said:

“The unfolding nuclear emergency in Japan reminds us that we must be vigilant about the safety of nuclear facilities worldwide. Twenty-five years ago, the Chernobyl disaster prompted international nuclear safety cooperation, and these recent events underscore the need to continue improving international efforts. This bill would build on the international Convention on Nuclear Safety by improving information sharing, strategic planning, and performance evaluation, so nations can work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe.”

Abercrombie’s First 100 Days

The governor will be one of two keynote speakers at the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce at Ihilani Resort from noon to 1 p.m.

According to a press release, Neil Abercrombie “will reflect on his first 100 days in office.”

The administration, by the way, has posted a video recap of the governor’s first 100 days (“See the New Day in Action”).

The governor’s 100 days, according to the governor, include the following achievements:

  • Developed and launched an unprecedented public-private partnership to transform government through technology.

  • Cooperated with public sector unions to put thousands of federally funded workers back on the job.

  • Passed a civil unions law without redrawing the heated battle lines of the past.

  • Began a new era of interagency coordination to end homelessness in Hawaii.

  • Agreed on legislation that brings a new era of accountability for public education with an appointed school board.

  • Worked seamlessly with County and Federal agencies to prepare for and respond to a Pacific tsunami.

Fuddy Confirmation Hearing

Senate Health is scheduled to take up the governor’s nomination of Loretta Fuddy ro run the Health Department.

Fuddy replaced Neal Palafox, who resigned only a month or so into his term for reasons not yet explained by the administration.

GOP Meeting on Pension Tax

The House Republican Caucus and Barbara “It’s Cruel” Marumoto are hosting a town hall meeting “to keep the public informed on pending legislation to tax the pensions of retirees.”

It is set for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Kahala Nui Retirement Center, 4389 Malia Street (park at Star of the Sea Church).
 
The speakers include Marumoto, Steve Tam of AARP, Lowell Kalapa of Hawaii Tax Foundation and Gene Ward.

Education Week Wraps Up

Highlights of the day include Senate and House floor presentations midday of the 2011 Hawaii Teachers of the Year, and a Legislative Training Session and High School Student Hearing Day with the several legislative committees at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 225.

BBQ With Neil, Clayton and Jessica

Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council present the 3rd annual “Legislators’ Bar-b-que” tomorrow (Saturday) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kualoa Ranch in Windward Oahu
 
It’s co-hosted by area lawmakers Clayton Hee and Jessica Wooley.

According to a press release, the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council represents 130 members statewide “who raise and sell 80 percent of the state’s beef cattle and/or operate associated businesses. … This day gives us an opportunity to brief lawmakers on the health of our economic sector and upcoming issues that could affect our well-being.”

Call 306-7769 or click here for more info.


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