Welcome to Capitol Watch. The Hawaii Legislature has less than two weeks to go, and balancing the budget remains issue Numero Uno.

5 p.m. Kauai Weighs Terror ID Cost

The Garden Island reports the Kauai County Council is being asked for $35,000 to comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005 that mandates that by Dec. 1, 2014, “a specially made ID will be required to board airplanes or carry federal government business.”

Hawaii, the paper says, “is the only state in the nation where the state government issues state IDs, and county governments issue drivers’ licenses”:

If you want to fly on a commercial aircraft or enter a federal building you are going to have to have this Real ID, either a driver’s license or a state ID,” County Treasurer David Spanski told Council members

4:25 p.m. UPDATE: Senate Panel OK’s Nakamura for HTA

Senate Tourism has unanimously approved the governor’s appointment of attorney Craig Nakamura to serve on the Hawaii Tourism Authority‘s board of directors.

The appointment now goes to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

3:56 p.m. Arakawa Wants Funding Boost for Nonprofits

The Maui News reports that Alan Arakawa is asking County Council members to increase grants to nonprofits to $24.4 million.

The paper reports:

With Maui County’s economy showing signs of recovery, the administration … wants to provide more money to nonprofit agencies because they “provide a service to the community, often its neediest,” said Sandy Baz, the administration’s budget director. …

“We wish to continue to support what should be funded either through the county or the nonprofits,” Baz said. “And most often, the nonprofits are able to deliver services at a lower cost.”

2:35 p.m. UPDATE: AARP Members Seek Assurances

In an hour-long tele-conference with members of the 23,000-member AARP Hawaii, David Ige and Wes Machida sought to assure the senior citizens that their pension incomes are safe.

Ige said the state Senate has already decided it would not be taxing pensions, and that pending House legislation would only tax pension income for individuals making more than $100,000 annually. Taking a greater share of hotel tax money and temporarily ending GET exemptions should help the state make up much of its $1.3 billion shortfall.

And Machida said that, though the Employees’ Retirement System faces $7.1 billion in unfunded liabilities, it currently is about $11 billion in the black and “will not run out of money for the next several years.”

AARP members seemed satisfied with the assurances — about 7,000 participated, the most the local chapter has ever had — but they also made it clear how upset they are over the increased fees and cuts to programs.

“It’s ridiculous that when you get this old you have to worry about things like this,” said Virginia, 85, of Kailua.

1:10 p.m. HGEA Vote Expected Tonight

Results of the HGEA ratification vote on the new contract are scheduled to be announced this evening.

The tentative agreement calls for a 50-50 split between the government and employees on health benefits, and a 5 percent cut in pay — although members would also get an additional nine days off a year.

The 42,000-member HGEA represents more than 28,000 state and county employees in seven bargaining units.

11:35 a.m. UPDATE: Senate Panel Rejects 2 Regents Noms

Senate Education today voted 6-0 against confirmation of Sandra Scarr and Patrick Naughton to the UH Board of Regents.

While the appointees will still receive a full Senate vote, it is highly unusual for members to ignore the advice of a committee.

The rejection of Scarr and Naughton is a major blow to Neil Abercrombie, a proud UH graduate who has frequently extolled the university’s virtues.

Three other governor BOR appointees — Saedene Ota, Coralie Matayoshi and Jan Sullivan — were approved by Senate Education today and also head to a full Senate vote.

9:55 a.m. Former OIP Director Lands DCCA Job

Cathy Takase, the former director of the Office of Information Practices, began work April 1 as a program specialist at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Takase works in DCCA’s Cable Television Division, which regulates franchised wireline cable operators within the state.

Takase’s appointment at OIP was not renewed by the Abercrombie administration. Takase told Civil Beat she was “terminated.”

8:52 a.m. Slom Questions Obama Birth Certificate

Fox News reports that Hawaii’s Sam Slom, too, has doubts about the president’s birth certificate.

Slom, says Fox, told a New York City radio interviewer that Slom believes “the real issue” stopping Barack Obama from releasing his long-form birth certificate “is something the president has to hide, perhaps even the name of his actual birth father”:

“My particular point of view — and why I haven’t identified myself as a ‘birther,’ per se — is that [Obama] probably was born [in Hawaii] and that the real issue is not the birth certificate, but what’s on the birth certificate,” Slom told Aaron Klein.

Asked what that could be, Slom said, “It could have to do with what his name is on the birth certificate, who is actually listed as his father, the citizenship of the father.”

Here’s another take on the Slom interview, from World Daily Net Daily.

WAM-FIN Budget Negotiations Resume

Senate Ways and Means and House Finance are scheduled to continue conference committee deliberations over House Bill 200, aka the state budget.

In case you were wondering, here are the names of the conferees — all 30 of them:

• Senate WAM Conferees: David Ige (chair), Suzanne Chun Oakland, Donovan Dela Cruz, Kalani English, Will Espero, Carol Fukunaga, Gil Kahele, Michelle Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim, Ron Kouchi, Pohai Ryan, Jill Tokuda and Glenn Wakai.

• House FIN Conferees: Marcus Oshiro (chair), Pono Chong, Isaac Choy, Ty Cullen, Sharon Har, Mark Hashem, Linda Ichiyama, Jo Jordan, Derek Kawakami, Chris Lee, Marilyn Lee, Dee Morikawa, Jimmy Tokioka, Kyle Yamashita, Barbara Marumoto, Gil Riviere and Gene Ward.

Hearing: UH Regents Nominees

Senate Education is scheduled to decide on the governor’s five appoinments to serve on the UH Board of Regents.

The appointees are Patrick Naughton, Sandra Scarr, Saedene Ota, Coralie Matayoshi and Jan Sullivan.

As Civil Beat reported, Scarr’s appointment has received some testimony in opposition.

Hearing: HTA Appointee

Senate Tourism is scheduled to consider the nomination of Craig Nakamura to serve on the Hawaii Tourism Authority board of directors.

Nakamura is a partner with Carlsmith Ball.

This is Neil Abercrombie‘s first HTA pick.

Homeless Initiative

Neil Abercrombie and Marc Alexander will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. to announce a “first step in helping individuals who need shelter,” according to a press notice.

The location is the Waikiki Health Center Care-A-Van Drop In Center at 3020 Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki.

AARP, Ige and the Pension Tax

AARP Hawaii will hold a tele-town hall this morning on “retirement security.”

Barbara Kim Stanton has invited David Ige to participate.

The tele-town hall was scheduled for last month but was cancelled because of the tsunami.

Big Island Redistricting

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that because Puna, North Kona and South Kohala are the fastest-growing areas on the island, “big changes are expected in County Council districts this year.”

The county Redistricting Commission will meet today to begin “the long and often controversial process of redrawing district lines” for the Big Island’s nine council districts.

Areas expected to “lose clout” because of slow population growth include Hilo and Hamakua — both historically loyal to Hawaii Democrats.

Birth of the Birthers

The debate over Barack Obama‘s birthplace continues unabated.

Amid the latest news reports and conspiracy theories, POLITICO has a report that examines the exact origins of the birther business.

Worth a read.


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