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.

3:34 p.m. North Shore Rep Worried About Vigilantes

Gil Riviere, who represents a North Shore district that stretches from Kaena Point to Laie, has scheduled a press conference Sunday at 10 a.m. “to speak out against vigilante activity.”

The presser will be held at Haleiwa Harbor, where shark tour boats have been the target of arson.

KITV reported earlier today:

Honolulu fire investigators said a fire aboard a 35-foot commercial vessel used for shark tours was intentionally set Thursday night at the Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor. A charred hull is about all that’s left of the Hoku Loa. …

This is the third time someone has torched boats belonging to North Shore Shark Adventures.

3:20 p.m. UPDATED: U.S. Won’t Kill Qadhafi

POLITICO.com has a report on that conference call with President Obama, Dan Inouye and others to discuss Libya.

The website says:

President Barack Obama told congressional leaders there are no plans to use the U.S. military to assassinate Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi — despite the administration’s policy of seeking regime change in the North African country — according to sources familiar with a Friday White House Situation Room briefing.

“There was a discussion of how we have other ways of regime change,” Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told POLITICO. “It’s not our role to do anything at this point from a kinetic point of view. It is our goal for regime change, but we’re not going to do it from a kinetic point of view.”

2:13 p.m. Inouye on U.S. Role in Libya

Dan Inouye participated in a conference call today regarding the U.S. mission in Libya.

On the line were Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen and the leadership of the House and Senate.

Inouye later released this statement:

“I have been assured that the plan does not include American boots on Libyan soil. I am also pleased that additional members of the Arab league will be participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn. Although we will serve an important role in this international endeavor, it will be the mission of NATO and the United Nations. America is an important part of this international team.”

The president is scheduled to address the country Monday evening EST on the Libyan crisis.

7:45 a.m. Lingle and Robots

Former Gov. Linda Lingle will also be on hand today at UH’s Stan Sheriff Arena as more than 1,000 Hawaii and international high school students on 33 robotics teams use their STEM skills at the 2011 FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition.

It’s sponsored by BAE Systems, and it’s free and open to the public. Lingle and Neil Abercrombie will kick things off at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony.

Students will compete through Saturday for a chance to compete at the FIRST Championships in St. Louis next month. Click here for more info.

Attendance Records of House Members

Today is Kuhio Day, and it’s a holiday for state and county workers.

Civil Beat — which is not on holiday — thought that this was an opportune time to check out the attendance records of House representatives.

For the first 36 days of the 60-day session (i.e., March 23), the lawmaker who was absent for the most number of House floor sessions was Mele Carroll, who missed six sessions.

In fairness to Carroll, it should be noted that her District 13 is one of the most rural and spread out of all state districts: It covers Molokai and Lanai; Keanae, Wailua, Nahiku and Hana on Maui; and the uninhabited islands of Kahoolawe and Molokini.

Tied for second place with five absences was Sharon Har, who represents Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei and Kalaeloa on Oahu; and Angus McKelvey, who represents Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea, Kihei and North Kihei on Maui.

Marcus Oshiro of Wahiawa, Whitmore Village and Launani Valley was excused the most times from the initial roll call prior to floor session — 10 times total — but he later showed up for the remainder of nine of those sessions.

Twenty lawmakers scored perfect attendance records and missed no roll calls, including Gene Ward, Karl Rhoads, Jimmy Tokioka, Joey Manahan, Blake Oshiro, Sylvia Luke, Chris Lee, Marilyn Lee, Gil Keith-Agaran and Isaac Choy.

Note: Senate attendance is not posted on the Capitol’s website, but Civil Beat is checking with the Senate Clerk’s Office to get some data.

Gifts Bill, Larry HI and The Daily Kos

A writer with the moniker LarryHI has penned an article on The Daily Kos political website titled “Hawaii House committee chair doesn’t want to hear from Ethics Commission.”

The article concerns Senate Bill 671, the now notorious measure that started as an ethics reform bill but currently allows unions and business to lavish gifts on lawmakers.

LarryHI is critical of lawmakers’ handling of the bill, and he’s posted video of recent testimony on the matter. Worth a look.

Banning the ‘N’ Word

House Human Services is scheduled Monday to hear a proposed draft for House Concurrent Resolution 135 and House Resolution 115 that urges “all the people of the state of Hawaii to eliminate the ‘N’ word from their vocabulary.”

Among other things, the “reso” states the following:

WHEREAS, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary notes that the “N” word “now ranks as perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English”; and

WHEREAS, the first documented written use of the word was in 1786, when the “N” word was a term slave masters used to refer to their African slaves; and

WHEREAS, while the use of the “N” word by and among African Americans is not always intended or taken as offensive, it is often a word expressive of racial hatred and bigotry;

The reso notes that New York City has pushed a similar idea, and argues that use of the word “especially from that of our youth, must be taken seriously, as the use of this word signals deeper problems in our society, including a complete disrespect for our fellow human beings.”

The chairman of HHS is John Mizuno, the lawmaker pushing the amendment.

Abercrombie, Robots and Soldiers

The governor will attend the opening ceremony of the 2011 Robotics Competition at the UH Stan Sheriff Center from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. He will deliver brief remarks.

Neil Abercrombie‘s predecessor, Linda Lingle, frequently championed school robotics programs. She argues that they were a way to make students more akamai in terms of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (aka STEM) education, and helping them to compete for jobs as adults.

On Sunday the governor will be at Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki from 10:30 a.m. to 11:39 a.m. to deliver remarks to the 442nd Veterans Club 68th Annual Banquet.

The fabled 442nd, of course, not only fought honorably in World War II but also helped Hawaii Democrats overthrow Republicans when the returned from the war (think Dan Inouye).


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