Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s just a few weeks remaining at the Hawaii Legislature, and balancing the budget is issue No. 1. Civil Beat is there.

5:42 p.m. Big Isle News, Kauai News

The Garden Island reports that the Kauai Police Department wants more cops on the beat:

The department has 18 sworn vacancies and is expected to lose at least six senior officers to retirement, according to KPD’s 2012 … to the Kauai County Council.

“We’ve always had a problem filling the positions in the department,” said Councilman Mel Rapozo, a former police officer.

Although the police administration has done an exceptional job of filling vacancies, he said, police numbers are low because of natural attrition, retirement and the department’s high standards for officers.

Meanwhile, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the island’s County Council is fine-tuning its public land fund:

Now that the county’s land fund is back in the budget, Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann wants to expand the list of eligible properties and give the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission more power to set priorities.

Bill 43, which goes to the County Council’s Finance Committee at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center, would allow the purchase of other properties besides coastal land. It would also ensure that at least 10 properties are on the prioritized list at any time.

And, the measure would remove the County Council’s authority to “select the lands to be preserved,” as is now stated in the ordinance. Instead, the council would draft a resolution directing the Finance Department to enter into negotiations with landowners in the priority order set by the commission.

1:06 p.m. Another Abercrombie Appointee Withdraws

The name of Robert Kissenberger, whom the governor submitted to the state Senate to sit on the Board of Physical Therapy, has been withdrawn from consideration.

That brings to 17 the number of Neil Abercrombie appointees whose names have been withdrawn.

11:45 a.m. Declaration of Independence in Honolulu

Not the original, mind you, but a rare copy of the original nonetheless.

KITV reports that the copy is on display at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center today and tomorrow:

Movie producer Norman Lear bought the document and created the Declaration of Independence Road Trip. The goal of the 10-year, cross-country tour was to exhibit the “People’s Document” in all 50 states.

Hawaii is the 44th state on this tour.

10:29 a.m. Birthers May Help Obama

A Washington Post blog suggests all that talk of birthers may help in the president’s re-election:

(Barack) Obama seems eager to highlight the more extreme views of Republicans. In recent speeches, he has several times made jokes that referenced the birthers.

“I was talking to a group earlier and I said, you know, I grew up here in Chicago. I wasn’t born here. Just want to be clear. I was born in Hawaii,” he said, as the audience laughed at a fundraising event in Chicago last week. “But I became a man here in Chicago.”

If their recent comments are any indication, some leading Republicans share Obama’s view. Earlier this year, top GOP strategist Karl Rove referred to the birthers as a “trap that the White House has laid for us.”

9:16 a.m. Hirono Fasted to Protest Cuts

Mazie Hirono joined more than 36,000 people on Friday — including about 30 other members of Congress — in fasting for 24 hours to call attention to the House GOP’s budget plan.

Participating House members — they include Jim McDermott, Jesse Jackson Jr., John Lewis and Mike Honda — are doing a “relay fast,” with each one abstaining from eating for a day before passing the responsibility to another representative.

“The recession has increased the child poverty rate in Hawaii to 13 percent, its highest level in years. This Reverse Robin Hood budget would drastically cut food programs, Head Start, and child care for families in poverty,” Hirono said in a statement Friday. “Today my staff and I are fasting in solidarity with the 50 million people in America who do not know where their next meal is coming from.”

Briefing: Radiation in Food, Environment

Senate Health is scheduled to hold an informational briefing discussing the potential health concerns related to radiation in Hawaii’s environment and food.

The Department of Health and Food and Drug Administration will be on hand to brief lawmakers.

A new EPA reports shows there are trace levels of radiation in locally produced milk due to the Japan nuclear disaster.

Resolution: Hawaii Stock Exchange

House Consumer Protection and Commerce is scheduled to hear a resolution requesting a working group look into the idea of setting up a locally focused, Hawaii-based stock exchange.

The “reso” says in part:

WHEREAS, currently, neither local lenders nor governmental entities are equipped to make significant equity investments in local enterprises; and

WHEREAS, individual Hawaii residents, resident economic entities, and institutional investors do frequently engage in risk-oriented investments, but do so primarily through out-of-state investment entities and national or international exchanges; and

WHEREAS, the requirements, including cost, for listing on national and international exchanges are generally prohibitive for small- to medium-sized businesses.

And:

WHEREAS, several other jurisdictions have created or are investigating the possibility of creating local investment exchanges to promote locally based investment with a high multiplier effect.

‘Bloody’ Senate Primary Forecast

A Roll Call report says the Democratic primary next year for the seat being vacated by Dan Akaka could get ugly:

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington state has said she doesn’t have the “bloody primary” problem that Republicans face in races across the country, but she clearly was not referring to Hawaii’s Senate contest.

The roles are reversed in the Aloha State, home to some infamously competitive Democratic primaries in recent years and where former Gov. Linda Lingle looks to have a clear path to the GOP nomination if she runs.

Roll Call says both Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa are seriously considering getting in the race, and that Charles Djou has said Lingle will make a decision by June or July.

Other observations from Roll Call:

The opportunity is indeed rare. There have been only five Hawaiian Senators in the 52-year-old state’s history, and Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye has been in office nearly that entire time. Akaka was elected in 1990, succeeding just two Senators who held the seat for the previous 30 years.

In his 26 years in public life, Ed Case has lost more elections than most have ever run in. He’s lost bids for state House, state Senate, House, Senate and governor, yet the 58-year-old is running again.


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