Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s less than a month to go at the Hawaii Legislature and the budget crunch is taking center stage. Civil Beat is all over the story.

5:28 p.m. Silencing Yappy Big Isle Dogs

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Big Island lawmakers are considering a bill that would punish the owners of dogs that bark excessively:

Aimed at streamlining the procedure for resolving noisy-dog complaints, the measure has been described by lawmakers as vague and possibly unenforceable.

That didn’t stop them, however, from passing the bill on a 7-1 vote. … A second supportive vote, expected to occur at the council’s April 20 meeting in Keauhou, is needed before Mayor Billy Kenoi may consider signing it into law.

3:42 p.m. Gov Says State Budget on ‘Right Path’

In a video release posted today, Neil Abercrombie said governments across the country are “paralyzed in conflict and confrontation”.

The transcript to the video reads in part:

In Washington D.C., deep cynicism has put the country on the brink of a shutdown.

Here in Hawaii we are moving in a different direction. We are talking about personal responsibility, shared sacrifice, long-term investment and cooperation.

Its not the easiest path, but it is the right path. It is a transformation of politics in Hawaii that is the core of the New Day Plan.

(Note: The video may have been recorded earlier, perhaps before the government shutdown was averted late Friday. Unlike the transcript, on the video Abercrombie actually says, “As I am recording this, in Washington, D.C., deep cynicism has put the country on the brink of a shutdown.”)

The governor says his plan is “on the verge” of coming to fruition. … “I look forward to working with legislators in the coming days to pass a budget that moves Hawaii forward.”

2:05 p.m. Kauai Council to Pick Kawakami Successor

The Garden Island reports that the Kauai County Council will meet later this afternoon to select a replacement for Derek Kawakami, who last week was sworn in as a state House representative.

The paper reports:

County officials have said privately that as many as nine residents have applied for the job, but all the names were not disclosed.

Click here for more information.

12:35 p.m. More Birther News

Here’s Donald Trump‘s latest blurb on Barack Obama‘s birth certificate:

“And you know, it’s a very sad thing, because the people — the birthers, they got labeled and they got labeled so negatively and even the word birther is a negative word. And I always tell people, I was a very good student, I went to the best college, I went to great schools, I’m — I have very high aptitude, because if you come out and say — and even question, the press goes wild. They get angry at the question. And the fact is, if he wasn’t born in this country, he shouldn’t be the president of the United States.”

Sara Palin has now joined in:

I think that he was born in Hawaii because there was the birth announcement put in the newspaper but obviously if there’s something there that the president doesn’t want people to see on that birth certificate, that he’s going to great lengths to make sure that it isn’t shown and that’s kind of perplexing for a lot of people. But you know again, Donald Trump — he may get to the bottom of it because he’s spending the resources that will probably be necessary to do some investigation.

Weighing in as well is Josh Wisch, a spokesman for the Hawaii attorney general’s office, according to a Fox News report:

A public index of vital records, available for inspection in a bound volume at the Health Department’s Office of Health Status Monitoring, lists a male child named “Obama II, Barack Hussein” as having been born in the state.

But Wisch, the spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said state law does not in fact permit the release of “vital records,” including an original “record of live birth” — even to the individual whose birth it records. “It’s a Department of Health record and it can’t be released to anybody,” he said. Nor do state laws have any provision that authorizes such records to be photocopied, Wisch said. If Obama wanted to personally visit the state health department, he would be permitted to inspect his birth record, Wisch said.

But if he or anybody else wanted a copy of their birth records, they would be told to fill out the appropriate state form and receive back the same computer generated “certification of live birth” form that everybody else gets — which is exactly what Obama did four years ago.

Meanwhile, Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, is reporting she is very angry at Trump:

“A naked lie in the name of the Lord,” Onyango said. “That I respect him and I respect his wealth, but I only demand him to respect us.”

“Onyango says when she was a girl in Kenya in 1961, she remembers her family receiving a letter from Obama’s father, announcing the president’s birth in Hawaii.

Lastly — for now, anyway — Obama’s sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview to air tomorrow:

“I think it’s unfortunate. He was born in Hawaii, there is a tremendous amount of proof that has already been presented. I think that it is time for people to put that to bed, put it to rest completely.”

11:11 a.m. Gov Picks Deputy for DOH

Neil Abercrombie has appointed Keith Yamamoto first deputy director of the Department of Health.

Yamamoto has served the last six years as the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administrator in the DOH’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.

10:01 a.m. Handicapping Case Race

David Nir, political director of The Daily Kos, a New York City Democrat and publisher of the Swing State Project doesn’t think much about Ed Case‘s latest campaign.

Some excerpts of his take:

I had really hoped we were done with this guy. … Case is in fact coming off two straight losses, plus an embarrassing yank on the rip-cord. …

Ambition is what defines Ed Case. … Case is truly a Dem in the DLC mold. Most notoriously, when he was running for Congress in 2002, he said he would have voted for the Iraq war resolution — and as late as 2006, he voted (and spoke) in favor of an open-ended military commitment in that country. He’s also been a regular supporter of anti-progressive legislation like the bankruptcy bill and the PATRIOT Act. In short, Hawaii can — and should — do a lot better than Ed Case. Indeed, his recent track record at the polls shows that Hawaiians already know this. …

Fortunately, Dems have quite a strong progressive bench in the state, so I’m hopeful someone like 2nd CD Rep. Mazie Hirono will step in and mop the floor with Case — soon.

9:29 a.m. Reapportionment Commission to Meet

The folks responsible for redrawing Hawaii’s election districts are scheduled to hold their first meeting today.

The members of the eight-member bipartisan commission was announced last month.

The commission will select a ninth member — the chairperson.

The new district lines, based on 2010 Census data, will be drawn later this year.

Duh: Case Running for Senate

Ed Case, in a widely expected move, told supporters on Sunday that he was “humbly announcing” he will run for Dan Akaka‘s U.S. Senate seat next year.

“I’m running for the Senate because I believe we can and must do better, and that our Hawaii offers a better way forward for our country,” Case said in his announcement.

Case, a former congressman, was defeated in his bid to unseat Akaka in 2006. Case also lost a special election in 2010 to replace Neil Abercrombie in Congress.

Akaka announced earlier this year that he is retiring. Case’s was among the prominent names mentioned as a likely candidate to replace Akaka.

Recent polling suggests Case, a political moderate and Blue Dog Democrat, would have difficulties in a Democratic primary but would attract independent voters in a general election against a Republican opponent.

Click here to visit Case’s official website.

Fukino Calls Birther Obsession ‘Ludicrous’

Former DOH Director Chiyome Fukino, according to an MSNBC report, says the continuing pursuit of conspiracy theorists to prove Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii is “ludicrous.”

The report says:

Fukino, sounding both exasperated and amused, spoke to a reporter in the aftermath of Donald Trump‘s statements on the NBC Today show last week questioning whether Obama has a legitimate birth certificate.

No matter what state officials release on the issue, the “birthers” are going to question it, said Fukino.

“They’re going to question the ink on which it was written or say it was fabricated,” said Fukino. “The whole thing is silly.”

HGEA Deal Will Save Big Isle $3M

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the tentative contract settlement last week with the Hawaii Government Employees Association means big cost savings for the Big Island:

The proposed HGEA contract would save Hawaii County an estimated $3 million during the first year, Deputy Finance Director Deanna Sako said Saturday.

It would apply to roughly 870 county employees, who represent about a third of the county’s 2,600 workers, she said.

“We’re pretty sure that we’re going to hold (the savings) in reserve, like in our budget stabilization fund, to use it later,” Sako said.

The settlement has been criticized because union members will work nine fewer days each year in spite of taking a 5 percent salary cut and paying more for health benefits.

Catch up on previous coverage:

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