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.

1:05 p.m. Abercrombie Wants YOU

The governor tweeted out this message earlier today:

Do you have any recommendations for Boards & Commissions? Please let us know & encourage ppl who want to serve the public.

The tweet then links to the section on the governor’s website providing information on the state’s more than 150 boards and commissions.

Most are voluntary, but many play critical roles in Hawaii government, such as the Council on Revenues, Campaign Spending Commission, Hawaiian Homes Commission, Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System board of trustees, Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund board of trustees and Island Burial Councils.

Bill: Tourist Publications

Senate Tourism is scheduled to hear House Bill 548, which seeks to hold authors and publishers of visitor websites and publications liable to readers who suffer injury or death “as a result of being enticed to go onto private or public lands from which the public is excluded.”

The bill has come under fire from publishers and editors, who argue the measure is a violation of the First Amendment. But it is supported by Kauai lawmakers who say tourist pubs have contributed to some visitors accidents, in particular at Kipu Falls.

At that same hearing, lawmakers will consider a bill setting up a five-year medical marijuana distribution pilot project on Maui, a bill calling for the election of the attorney general and a bill calling for the state to begin work on a state version of the Akaka bill on recognition of Native Hawaiians.

Looks to be a long hearing.

Bill: Capping County TAT

Two Senate committees are scheduled to hear a bill that would place a temporary cap on county share of the transient accommodations tax.

Counties don’t like it, because it is a significant chunk of revenue; but the Legislature this year is looking for money where ever it can find it.

Bills: Mortgage Foreclosures

Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection is scheduled to hear two bills relating to mortgage foreclosures.

The committee is chaired by Roz Baker, the Maui lawmaker who is on the forefront in trying to help homeowners vulnerable to lending practices.

Bills: Union Benefits

House Labor and Public Employment is scheduled at 9:15 a.m. and scheduled at 10 a.m. to hear several measures amending the Employers’ Retirement System.

The committee will also hear resolutions requesting an audit of the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and setting up a task for4ce to study how employees in other states and counties are compensated.

Town Hall: Oshiro, Abercrombie in Wahiawa

A mid-session forum held by Marcus Oshiro in his district (Wahiawa, Whitmore Village and Launani Valley) this evening is expected to include Neil Abercrombie.
The forum is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Wahiawa District Park’s Hale Koa Room. The governor is expected between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Town Hall: Pine, Emergencies in Ewa Beach

In response to the recent extended power outage and tsunami warnings, Kymberley Pine will host a town hall meeting in Ewa Beach to address the community’s emergency preparedness plan.

Invited presenters include Chip McCreery, Melvin Kaku, Ed Teixeira and the American Red Cross.

It’s set for 7 p.m. at Ewa Makai Middle School Cafeteria.

Briefing: Pac Rim Disaster Impact

Two House committees are scheduled to hold an informational briefing “to educate members about the Pacific Rim and the economic impacts caused by the natural disasters in this region.”

“Pac Rim” includes Japan, of course; “economic impacts” includes us.

Inouye Honors LaHood

Dan Inouye will attend a reception in honor of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the Hilton Hawaiian Village from 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m.

Reporter Jim Dooley has a recent article saying that local lawmakers were to be given free tickets to the event until event organizer Pacific Resources Partnership, which represents the Carpenters Union and building contractors, checked with the State Ethics Commission.

On the commission’s advice, PRP decided to charge for the tickets instead.

The issue of gifts and tickets has been in the news lately because of Senate Bill 671, which exempts from restrictions on gifts under the ethics code invitations or tickets for a charitable event from a charitable entity. Last week the Ethics Commission said it opposes the bill.

The measure, which has another proposed amendment, is scheduled in House Judiciary this afternoon.

Historic Preservation Day

The 9th Annual Historic Preservation Awareness Day will be from 9 a.m. to noon on the State Capitol’s third floor. The governor is expected to attend a reception for the occasion at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 309.

According to a press release:

Co-sponsored by the Historic Hawaii Foundation and the State Legislature’s Heritage Caucus 2011, the event celebrates Hawaii’s architectural, cultural, and natural heritage, focusing on the importance of historic preservation to the wellbeing of Hawaii communities.

Historic preservation organizations and leaders from across the state will feature unique and informative exhibits to raise awareness and inform the public of the importance of preserving and perpetuating Hawaii’s history through the protection of cultural and historic places.

Catch up on previous coverage:

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