Welcome to Capitol Watch. We’re past the halfway point at the Hawaii Legislature and hundreds of bills are still moving. Meanwhile the state’s budget shortfall is getting worse. Civil Beat is reporting on all of it.

5:07 p.m. Inouye Praises Japanese Response

Kyodo News, in an interview with Dan Inouye, reports that the senator was “impressed” by the orderly behavior of Japanese people following the recent earthquake and tsunami.

The article says:

“Generally, when you see news of this type of activity in other nations, you see looting … there was none whatever,” he said.

The 86-year-old Japanese-American senator said such behavior is “part of the code of conduct … the way they’re taught to conduct themselves.”

Inouye said he believes the Japanese government is doing everything possible amid difficult challenges and that it is unlikely the government would conceal necessary information from the people.

3:29 p.m. DHHL Unveils Kuhio Portrait

Hawaiian Home Lands unveiled a portrait of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole that will be displayed at the department’s Kapolei headquarters, Hale Kalanianaole. According to a press release:

“From passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act as a delegate to Congress to the founding of the Hawaiian Civic Clubs and county governments, Prince Kuhio was a visionary who fought to better the living of conditions of native Hawaiians and the rest of Hawaii’s citizens,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Albert “Alapaki” Nahale-a. “This week we pay tribute to his legacy and the good works he accomplished for all of Hawaii nei.”

Kuhio served in Congress from 1903 until his death in 1922 and spearheaded the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that was enacted in 1921.

Kuhio’s birthday on Friday is a state and county holiday.

1:07 p.m. Gambling Gets New Life

More than a dozen measures legalizing some form of gambling have already died at the state Capitol this session. But, just when you think gaming is dead, it pops up alive and well.

The bill in question is Senate Bill 755, which, in its original form, had to do with GET exemptions for school supplies.

Now there is a proposed amendment that calls for what are known as “peer-to-peer” games of skill like poker “in which each player receives the player’s personal winnings from the game but in which no other person or entity derives any proceeds based on the outcome of the game.”

The amendment reads in part:

Many poker tournaments and championship series held in other locations have the effect of filling hotel rooms for the duration of the tournaments, which run for several weeks at a time, with participants, their families, and supporters, as well as poker aficionados. Furthermore, these events are televised nationally and internationally to large audiences and include scenic shots and other coverage of local attractions. This coverage provides free advertising and exposes these areas to a worldwide audience. Organizers of these peer-to-peer poker tournaments and championship series are eager to hold such events in Hawaii.

As rationale, the amendment cites the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which “may result in the loss of approximately twenty percent of the visitor market.”

The bill’s amendment is scheduled Wednesday morning before two House committees.

11:52 a.m. House Honors C&K

The state House has recognized and commended Cecilio and Kapono with a Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions to contemporary Hawaiian music.

The group, according to a resolution, are a “source of inspiration” and “remind us of all that is remarkable about out island home.”

C&K’s oeuvre includes “Friends,” “Lifetime Party,” “Good Times Together” and “Sailin’.”

10:36 a.m. Hannemann Talks Economics in Saipan

Mufi Hannemann is a keynote speaker today at an Economic Restoration Summit in Saipan.

The summit, according to a Saipan Tribune article, is supported by an $85,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hannemann is identified by summit organizers thusly:

As mayor, Hannemann led the development of Oahu’s first rail transit system, which is poised to break ground soon. His strong emphasis on public safety led to Honolulu being named by the FBI as one of America’s safest big cities, summit organizers said.

8:55 a.m. ‘Daily Show’ Guest Pens Hawaii Book

Author Sarah Vowell will be on The Daily Show tonight pushing her new book, “Unfamiliar Fishes,” which suggests the year of Hawaii’s annexation (1898) was a pivotal year in American history.

The blurb on Amazon includes this review:

Recounting the brief, remarkable history of a unified and independent Hawaii, Vowell, a public radio star and bestselling author (“The Wordy Shipmates”), retraces the impact of New England missionaries who began arriving in the early 1800s to remake the island paradise into a version of New England. In her usual wry tone, Vowell brings out the ironies of their efforts: while the missionaries tried to prevent prostitution with seamen and the resulting deadly diseases, the natives believed it was the missionaries who would kill them: “they will pray us all to death.” Along the way, and with the best of intentions, the missionaries eradicated an environmentally friendly, laid-back native culture (although the Hawaiians did have taboos against women sharing a table with men, upon penalty of death, and a reverence for “royal incest”).

The book is generating buzz, including on the “Daily Show” Facebook page. Sample: “Maybe she found Obama’s birth certificate in her research! LOL.”

Windward and Mauka Showers

House Tourism is scheduled to hear a resolution urging the Hawaii Tourism Authority to “seek an agreement with major television networks and mainland weather channels” to include Hawaii’s weather in TV weather reports.

The “reso” reads in part:

“Mainland residents who are currently enduring bad weather are likely to be influenced to visit Hawaii if major mainland networks broadcasted Hawaii’s alluring weather” and “a cost-effective way to increase tourism to Hawaii year-round is to have Hawaii’s weather shown on major networks and mainland weather channels.”

It is an odd request. The HTA spends tens of millions of dollars annually to market to the U.S. West and East Coasts, and a good chunk of that advertising and PR play up the local weather anyway.

Japanese Still Coming to Big Isle

“A week after the tsunami hit, the number of visitors from Japan has declined, but it hasn’t fallen off a cliff,” The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports:

“Travel industry professionals are keeping a close watch on this pillar of the visitor industry, which is expected to contract as Japanese take care of more pressing matters back home. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said the economic loss will be ‘terrible’ and ‘rough.’ But so far, the impact is looking more like a soft landing.”

The newspaper adds that it is still “too early” to gauge the long-term impact of the Japanese earthquake-tsunami-nuclear-plant disasters on Big Isle tourism.

Bill: Government Salary Cuts

Senate Judiciary and Labor is scheduled to hear a bill that would extend a 5 per cent legislative salary decrease implemented two years ago to June 30, 2013.

The salary reduction applies as well to executive and judicial branch positions. Some lawmakers have grumbled that wanted their salary cut reinstated, but others argue it would appear ill-timed given the growing budget deficit and collective call for sacrifice from the governor.

Bill: Ignition Locks

Two Senate committees are scheduled to hear a bill making adjustments to state law on automobile ignition locks — the devices that won’t allow a car to start if the driver is intoxicated.

The adjustments, primarily clarifying language, come from a task force that studied the law and its impact on drivers.

Bill: Undersea Cables

Two House committees are scheduled to hear Senate Bill 367, which sets up a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland, high-voltage, electric-transmission cable system.

DBEDT, DCCA and Hawaiian Electric have testified in support, but OHA has expressed concern because of how the cable system would affect Native Hawaiians on Lanai and Molokai.

Other testimony has come from individuals who worry the cable system will negatively impact state taxpayers.

Resolutions: Help for Micronesians

Two Senate committees are scheduled to hear two resolutions urging the Congress and the Department of the Interior to provide more medical aid to Hawaii to help Micronesians.

The “resos” also call for providing dialysis and chemotherapy centers in all areas within the Compact of Free Association.

According to one of the resos, in 2007 “various state agencies spent a total of $101,163,113” to provide services locally.

Mixon To Relinquish Command

Neil Abercrombie will attend a change of command ceremony for Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon from 11 a.m. to noon at Palm Circle Parade Field, Fort Shafter.

Mixon’s tenure had its controversies: He spoke out against repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, for example. But he also was instrumental in shifting the Army’s training priorities from Makua Valley on Oahu to Pohakuloa on the Big Island.

Maj. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski will now take charge of U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC).


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