Welcome to Capitol Watch. The Hawaii Legislature has just over one week to go, and the big question is, “Where is the money?”

4:24 p.m. Still No Decision on Revenue Bills

A string of conference committees Wednesday afternoon ended with no votes on seven revenue-generating bills.

Lawmakers pushed off votes until tomorrow afternoon on bills including the pension tax, raiding special funds and capping the counties’ share of the TAT.

That could postpone what happens at tonight’s conference committee on the state budget, HB 200. At last night’s meeting, Marcus Oshiro and David Ige said they were awaiting the outcome of these revenue bills before agreeing on a budget draft.

Ige told Civil Beat this afternoon that the committee is “95 percent of the way there” on HB 200, but that in light of today’s decisions, the group isn’t likely to wrap up conference on the budget tonight, meaning business could carry over into tomorrow.

Scheduled for votes tomorrow at 3 p.m. are:

  • SB 120, allows raiding of special funds
  • HB 79, allows raiding of special funds
  • SB 754, suspends GET exemptions for businesses

And at 3:15 p.m.:

  • SB 570, taxes pension income, repeals the state income tax deduction and itemized deductions for higher income earners
  • HB 1092, similar to SB 570
  • SB 1270, allows state to deplete Hurricane Relief Fund
  • SB 1186, caps counties’ share of the Transient Accommodations Tax at 2010 levels; temporarily increases TAT by 2 percentage points on timeshares

—Nanea Kalani

3:08 p.m. ‘Case for Senate’ Sign Goes Up

Here’s a tweet from Ed Case today: “First campaign banner sighting, from my hometown of Hilo.”

The link takes you to the sign, which, it seems, features a photo of a younger candidate.

@EdCaseHawaii, by the way, has 1,158 followers.

@MufiHannemann has 581,245 followers.

1:10 p.m. How Hawaii ‘Blunders’ Fueled Bither Issue

POLITICO reports that mistakes made by the state of Hawaii “inadvertently” fed the birther movement:

Time and time again, in its attempts to be helpful to its favorite son, the Aloha State has unwittingly fanned the flames of conspiracy back on the mainland.

Most recently, there was Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat not even a month into his new job, who announced late last year he would try to clear things up once and for all by releasing even more evidence that the president was born in a Honolulu hospital. …

But Abercrombie — who knew Obama and his parents in the 1960s — backtracked a month later, admitting he couldn’t produce the long-form birth certificate because of privacy statutes.

POLITICO has other critical things to say about Hawaii’s role in the birther silliness, including about Linda Lingle and the Hawaii Legislature.

11:01 a.m. Questions Linger over Kauai Council Pick

The Garden Island reports that there are still concerns about how a replacement for Derek Kawakami was chosen for the Kauai County Council.

The County Clerk’s Office released a list of applicants whom Council Chair Jay Furfaro said formally requested to be considered for the seat vacated last month by Kawakami, who was selected by the governor to fill a vacant state House seat.

The paper reports:

The list, provided under the header “Candidates for the vacant council seat,” named Sandi Kato-Klutke, Kimo Rosen, Maxine Correa and Jimmy Jasper.

After being told the list was a “personnel” issue that could not be made public, The Garden Island filed an open-records request April 14 under the Freedom of Information Act.

Kipukai Kualii — unanimously chosen by the council during a special meeting April 11 — wasn’t on the list. Furfaro said he understood the request was only for the names of those who were not picked.

Kualii finished eighth in the November election for the seat, the second time he had fallen short of joining the seven-member Council.

9:17 a.m. Governor Comments on Birth Certificate Release

In a statement from the governor’s office regarding the White House’s posting of Barack Obama’s Hawaii long-form birth certificate, Neil Abercrombie said:

“Considering all of the investigations that have been done and the information that has been provided, no rational person can question the President’s citizenship. We have found a way — once again — to confirm what we already knew: the President was born here in Hawaii. State officials of both parties have verified that President Obama’s birth records show that he was born in Honolulu.

“President Obama’s mother and father were dear friends of mine, and we must respect their memory. It is an insult to the President, his parents and to the Office to suggest that he was not born in Hawaii. The State of Hawaii has done everything within our legal ability to disabuse these conspiracy theorists. We granted the President’s request for certified copies of his birth certificate so we can all move on from this unfortunate distraction and focus on the real issues affecting people today.”

The statement from the governor’s office notes that the Department of Health complied with the president’s request on April 22 to release the certified copies of his original Certificate of Live Birth, also known as a “long form” birth certificate.

“We hope that issuing certified copies of the original Certificate of Live Birth to President Obama will end the numerous inquiries related to his birth in Hawaii,” Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy said in the statement. “I have seen the original records filed at the Department of Health and attest to the authenticity of the certified copies the department provided to the President that further prove the fact that he was born in Hawaii.”

8:40 a.m. Meetings: Budget, Taxes, Plastic Bags, Hawaiian Recognition

It’s a full day of conference committee work at the state Legislature as lawmakers scramble to get bills ready for deadlines Thursday and Friday night.

Among the bills scheduled for discussion today and tonight:

• The state budget

• The hotel tax

• Taxing pensions and the Hurricane Relief Fund

Plastic checkout bags

• The Native Hawaiian recognition, funding a roll commission and a related funding vehicle

7:52 a.m. White House Posts Birth Certificate

In case you missed it, click here to view it.

Here’s what White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says about the post:

In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here.

When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.

The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting. President Barack Obama’s long form birth certificate can be seen here. Correspondence with the Hawaii State Department of Health can be seen here.

At a time of great consequence for this country — when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President’s hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.

That should settle things once and for all, right?

Here’s what the president himself had to say about the topic at the White House today:

As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going. We’ve had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.

We’ve posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate. And yet this thing just keeps on going.

Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given day and I’ve got other things to do. But two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here. …

I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this.

Akaka Goes Back to School

For one day, anyway.

Dan Akaka will serve as a guest teacher for 8th grade math students at Kawananakoa Middle School in Honolulu this morning as part of Teach For America Week.

The subject matter is financial literacy, something Akaka has long advocated for as part of school curriculum.

Before entering Congress, Akaka was a teacher, principal and educational administrator in Hawaii.

Teach For America is a national corps of “outstanding” recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools.

Oahu Eligible for SBA Tsunami Loans

Following similar outreach on the Big Island and Maui County, the U.S. Small Business Administration is now allowing “qualified homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits” on Oahu to receive help through low-interest disaster loans to repair or replace materials damaged from the tsunami.

“It’s been over a month since the tsunami struck, but residents and businesses are still recovering from it,” Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to ensure they have proper support and services to rebuild.”

Oahu’s Disaster Loan Outreach Center, which will be open until May 4, is at 419 Lele Street in Honolulu (the Hawaii Civil Air Patrol Wing Headquarters).

For more information click here or call (800) 659-2955 or (800) 877-8339 (TTY).

Meeting: Lawmakers’ Salaries

House and Senate conferees are scheduled to meet to discuss House Bill 575, which would continue the 5 percent cut in pay for legislative, executive and judicial salaries.

The cut went into effect two years ago; HB 575 continues the cut until Dec. 31, 2013.

Big Isle Redistricting Questioned

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the newly formed county Redistricting Commission already has some members questioning a new county code setting strict rules for its operation.

The paper reports:

South Hilo Commissioner Mike Middlesworth in particular chafed under an ordinance the County Council passed last month requiring the commission to accept plans from the public, and if a member of the public’s plan has less deviation from the ideal number, to adopt that plan or adjust its own plan to match that deviation.

“It seems to be an attempt to achieve by legislation what couldn’t be achieved by the (2001) commission or by litigation,” Middlesworth said. “The ordinance puts this commission in a very difficult position.”


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