Welcome to Capitol Watch. We’re well 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.

4:19 p.m. Gov Brings Brown Rice and Promises to Kupuna

In an unscheduled appearance, Neil Abercrombie joined about two dozen legislators of both parties at the Capitol Rotunda today for a rally organized by the nonprofit Kupuna care and AARP Hawaii. The groups were there to support legislative funding for programs like Meals On Wheels for senior citizens.

The governor told the audience of several hundred people — not a few in wheelchairs — that it was their job to make sure that all of Hawaii’s seniors “are able to live in dignity, and to be able to carry out the legacy that they have left for those of us who have the responsibility now — to move forward with it in a way that is sustainable in terms of the funding, and is a measure of what we have to do to meet those obligations.”

The governor continued:

“So I am asking everyone to help me and help the Legislature by understanding that we are all going to have to contribute something, and that those of us that have in turn remember that those who are the most vulnerable among us are those that need to have that support. Hawaii has always done that.”

“Kupuna Care provides a place of refuge psychologically, emotionally, physically, for our seniors all across the state. … if we are indeed to be a place of refuge here in Hawaii Nei, then we have to support it accordingly.

“I’m going to do everything I can. I am working with the Legislature to do all we can to make sure that not just Kupuna Care but care for all of our people is at the foremost part of our thoughts as we conclude the legislative session. I’m asking all of you to search your hearts and work together to see to it that we are able to provide the necessary fiscal support to see that all of this is possible.”

The governor did not, it should be noted, say exactly how he and the Legislature were going to pay for that care.

2:01 p.m. Trump Releases Birth Certificate

One day after suggesting that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii Nei, Donald Trump has released his birth certificate, which ABC News has posted for all to view.

Here’s an excerpt from the ABC News story:

Donald Trump learned the hard way this week that if you’re going to call on the president to release his official birth certificate, you’d better do the same.

Trump, who has been putting pressure on Obama lately to make public his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii, decided to set a good example and release his own on Monday. Only problem was, the document that Trump provided to the conservative Website Newsmax wasn’t his actual birth certificate, but rather a “hospital certificate of birth.”

On Tuesday, Trump, who is contemplating a presidential run in 2012, sought to correct the oversight, providing a copy of his official birth certificate issued by the New York City Department of Health to ABC News.

It shows that “Donald John Trump” was born June 14, 1946 in Jamaica Hospital in Queens. It lists his father as Fred C. Trump and his mother as Mary Mac Leod. The date of the report is listed as June 14, 1946.

12:10 p.m. Big Isle Officials Sued Over Pot

Eight Puna residents on the Big Island allege that county police, prosecutors and other officials failed to abide by a recent voter initiative that made adult personal use of marijuana a low law-enforcement priority.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports:

The suit was filed Thursday in Hilo Circuit Court. It names Mayor Billy Kenoi, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, retiring Prosecutor Jay Kimura, Deputy Prosecutors Charlene Iboshi and Mitch Roth, plus all current County Council members and all former members on the panel when the voter initiative was passed into law.

The plaintiffs, Michael Doyle Ruggles, the Rev. Nancy Waite Harris, Kenneth Miyamoto-Slaughter, David and Wendy Tatum, George “Greywolf” Klare, Barbara Jean Lang and Robert S. Murray, seek $5 million in punitive damages.

9:50 a.m. Hawaii Bar Says Louie ‘Qualified’

The Hawaii State Bar Association has given David Louie a rating of “qualified” to serve as attorney general.

Louie’s predecessor, Mark Bennett, also recommends him for AG, praising him for his “honesty, integrity, diligence and legal ability … Gov. Abercrombie has made a superb appointment.”

In fact, Louie has not received a single piece of written testimony in opposition to his nomination.

Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee, however, says he has received telephone calls from people opposed to the nominee and that Hee’s committee is looking into the complaints.

“We’ve done a fair amount of work,” said Hee.

Hee did not disclose the nature of the complaints against Louie and said the nominee would have a chance to respond to them, likely in a hearing next week.

9:30 a.m. Utility-Friendly Energy Bill Heads to Full House

Score one for Hawaiian Electric.

House Consumer Protection and Commerce yesterday unanimously recommended the passage of Senate Bill 1346 without amendments, clearing the way for the House to approve the Senate’s version and send it to Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

The committee followed in the footsteps of House Energy and Environmental Protection and Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection, both of which approved language that will allow the electric utilities to count clean energy installed by consumers toward their standards.

Those votes erased an attempt by the Senate’s energy committee to hold the utilities’ feet to the fire by counting only a portion of the customer-sited renewables toward the companies’ goals.

Michael Levine

8:44 a.m. AARP to Rally at Capitol

Advocates for senior citizens are already gathering in the Capitol Rotunda to let legislators know they want support for state-funded programs that service Hawaii’s elderly.

A march, rally and “resource fair” on the Capitol’s second floor have been organized by AARP Hawaii and Lanakila Meals on Wheels to “raise awareness about the importance of the Kupuna Care,” according to a press release.

One of the measures AARP is supporting is AARP Hawaii is House Bill 160, which maintains the 2010 funding level for Kupuna Care and home-delivered meals by making the emergency appropriation of $3.5 million from the 2010 Rainy Day Special Fund part of the base budget for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

HB 160 is set for decision making tomorrow in Senate Ways and Means.

Louie Confirmation in Hee’s Judiciary

Senate Judiciary and Labor is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Attorney General David Louie.

Louie, who is the last of Neil Abercrombie‘s Cabinet member to get a hearing, was nominated Dec. 20.

The chair of the committee is Clayton Hee, who has generally been very supportive of the governor’s nominees — with the exception of William Aila of DLNR.

Hawaii Medal of Honor Ceremony

The governor and other dignitaries will be in state Senate chambers from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. for a joint House-Senate session to hold a Hawaii Medal of Honor ceremony.

Sixteen service members will be honored. It is the fifth year in a row that the Legislature has awarded the Hawaii Medal of Honor.

According to a recent column by Mark Takai, the lawmaker who introduced the Hawaii Medal of Honor legislation in 2005, “Between March 29, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2010, we in Hawaii have lost 284 service members.”

Gov Talks of Science and Peace

Neil Abercrombie is also scheduled to deliver remarks between 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. a.m. at the 54th Hawaii Science & Engineering Fair at the Hawaii Convention Center‘s 3rd Floor Ballroom.

Between 10 a.m. and noon, the governor is expected to give remarks at a Torch of Peace Lighting Ceremony at Aloha Tower.

Resolutions: Hawaii Bank, Stock Exchange

Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection is scheduled to hear a resolution that would set up a DCCA working group to study the creation of a locally focused Hawaii-based stock exchange.

The idea, according to the reso, is that “a local investment exchange will generate awareness of and interest in locally-based opportunities for equity investment.”

Meanwhile, House Economic Revitalization and Business is scheduled to hear a resolution creating a task force to study the idea of setting up a Bank of the State of Hawaii.

The resolution notes that the Bank of North Dakota “is the only state-owned and operated financial institution in the United States,” and that all state and county funds are put in that bank, creating “a large deposit base.”

The reso continues:

WHEREAS, in addition to paying a competitive interest rate to the state treasurer, the Bank of North Dakota also invests its moneys in loan programs to spur economic development within the state; and

WHEREAS, the Bank of North Dakota regularly turns over a portion of its profits to the state general fund; and

WHEREAS, over the past decade, the Bank of North Dakota has turned over approximately one-third of $1,000,000,000 to the state general fund.

One bill that would have set up a Bank of the State of Hawaii has died, while another was deferred last week and may be dead.

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