Watching and reporting about Hawaii from Washington Place to Washington, D.C.

5:04 p.m. Gov: No Special Session

Neil Abercrombie said there will be no special session for the Hawaii Legislature in light of the the Council on Revenues’ unchanged forecast.

He said in a statement:

“My Administration remains committed to working with the budget that we have. That has not changed.

“In recent weeks, we have formed new partnerships that invest in Hawai’i in the spirit of lokahi. These partnerships include a $10 million grant from the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation for education initiatives and Conservation International’s $2 million commitment towards the state’s fisheries enforcement.

“We are moving the economy in a positive direction and getting things done to fix government. Our New Day plan is on track.”

4:12 p.m. Hirono, Hanabusa, Akaka Oppose Patriot Act Extension

The vote came late D.C. time, but Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono were on the losing side of a 250-153 vote that extends three surveillance authorities in the Patriot Act until June 1, 2015.

The bill previously passed the Senate and now heads to the White House for the president’s automated signature, since he’s traveling in Europe.

As The Hill reported, “Democrats generally opposed the bill, calling it something that would extend the government’s invasion of privacy.”

But most Republicans who voted in favor the extension rationalized it along the lines of this comment, which was also in The Hill:

“The terrorist threat will not sunset at midnight, and neither should our national security laws,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

Earlier in the day, when the Senate voted 72-25 to approve the bill and send it to the House, Dan Akaka voted “nay” while Dan Inouye voted “aye.”

3:28 p.m. Council on Revenues Forecasts No Change

Read Civil Beat’s report.

3:07 p.m. Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Garden Island reports that, “after months of review and weeks of fine tuning,” the Kauai County Council has approved a $269 million fiscal year 2011-2012 budget:

“My concern is not really with the spending, it’s with the philosophy of the budget,” Councilman Mel Rapozo said. He was the one council member to vote against the budget. “If we continue to vote yes on budgets we don’t agree with, then the system won’t change.”

The approved operating budget for FY 2011 totals $185.97 million, representing an increase of more than $38 million or approximately 25 percent over last year’s $147.6-million budget.

The Maui News reports that officials of Maui County nonprofit organizations and programs that saw their funding potentially reduced or eliminated this week “reacted with surprise, disappointment and even anger” at the Maui County Council‘s budget process action:

The cuts were made to offset revenue losses after the council voted to nix a plan to increase the minimum property tax. The council then followed with first-reading approval of the $564.7 million budget.

“We realize there are a lot of needs out there, and ours is one, too,” said Greg LaGoy, executive director of Hospice Maui that had $250,000 trimmed from the county budget. “We are disappointed by this most recent council action, but we hope we may yet be put back in the budget at some level.”

West Hawaii Today reports that the late Stephen Yamashiro is being remembered fondly after his death earlier this week:

Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, who served on the County Council during Yamashiro’s mayoral tenure, recalled his openness to her questions. His office door was always open to her, she said.

“He was one of the brightest and most politically astute guys I knew,” Leithead Todd said. “I loved working with Mayor Yamashiro.”

2:33 p.m. Opala-Free Sea Bill From Inouye

Legislation designed to clean up and prevent ocean trash from washing ashore and destroying marine ecosystems was co-introduced in the Senate today by Dan Inouye.

The Trash Free Seas Act of 2011 in intended to re-authorize the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act of 2006, which expires at the end of 2010.

Inouye said in a statement:

“With Hawaii surrounded by the ocean, it should be no surprise that we are more sensitive to floating rubbish and sinking fish nets. The Hawaiian word for rubbish is ‘opala’ and it dirties our beaches, harms our reefs and negatively effects our tourist-dependent economy. While we are environmentally and economically dependent on the ocean, I believe that we are also influenced by the strong cultural ties of Native Hawaiians to the sea. Long before words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem’ became politically popular — the Native Hawaiians lived it. They practiced sustainability. They would ‘malama,’ or care for the ocean and the land.”

2:15 p.m. Filipino Reunification Bill From Akaka

Dan Akaka today co-introduced a bill today to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their children. Dan Inouye is also a sponsor.

Akaka said in a statement:

“The Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act would resolve a seven-decade old issue by creating an exemption from the numerical limitation on immigrant visas granted to the children of WWII Filipino veterans. … For me, it has always been a matter of honor and recognition for the Filipino World War II veterans and the acknowledgment of their service to our country. The Filipinos, fought and died for our great nation.”

According to Akaka’s office, in 1941 over 200,000 Filipinos were drafted into the United States armed forces and served honorably during World War II.

10:42 a.m. Hirono, Hanabusa Agree on Afghanistan Scale Back

Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa were among 204 lawmakers today voting to scale down the war in Afghanistan. But the amendment was defeated 215-204, with most Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the majority.

The bipartisan amendment would have required the Department of Defense to develop a plan for an “accelerated transition of military operations to Afghanistan authorities.

The House also rejected an amendment that would require the withdrawal of U.S. ground troops from Afghanistan and require DOD to submit a withdrawal plan to Congress 60 days after the measure becomes law. Hirono voted for the amendment, and Hanabusa against.

And, on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the House voted 416-5 to prohibit the Obama administration from placing ground troops in Libya. Hirono and Hanabusa were in the majority.

9:40 a.m. Hirono, Hanabusa Split Defense Votes

Colleen Hanabusa voted “aye” and Mazie Hirono voted “nay” today on a bill that authorizes 2012 spending for Department of Defense military activities and construction.

The measure passed 322-96, with Hanabusa among the 95 Democrats who voted in support and Hirono among the 90 who did not.

Among other things, the $690 billion bill would fund procurement for aircraft, missiles, weapons and tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, and shipbuilding and conversion; the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Fund; National Guard and reserve forces facilities; and military base closure and realignment activities.

The full text of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 is available here

UPDATED 2:36 p.m. Hanabusa’s office released a statement after the vote that said in part that the bill “includes more than half a billion dollars in funding for Hawaii’s military construction projects, a 1.6 percent pay increase for our troops and several amendments proposed by Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.”

Aoki: Hawaii in ‘Terrible Financial Shape’

Big Island Video News.com reports that Andrew Aoki told Big Island Democrats last weekend “Your government is in terrible financial shape after years and years and years of denying the systemic problems in government.”

More excerpts:

“We are gonna have to raid special funds,” said Aoki, “we’re gonna have to do a whole bunch of things just to make the books balanced by the end of the year. One of the biggest problems that we have is that we decided — last year — to delay tax refunds into this year. Which is a $200 million hit to our fiscal year.”

“This administration is not going to do those things, anymore.”

Aoki, the website reported, laid much of the blame on the previous administration.

Hearing: Native Language

Dan Akaka‘s Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is holding “In Our Way: Expanding the Success of Native Language and Culture-Based Education” this morning in D.C. to highlight efforts to meet student and Native community needs through education.

Among those speaking are representatives from the UH Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language, a Waianae charter school and Kamehameha Schools.

Golden Age Games

The National Veterans Golden Age Games kick off today and last through the long weekend.

The games, according to a report, are “the only national multi-event sports and recreational competition program designed to improve the quality of life for military veterans ages 55 and older who receive health care at Veterans Administration medical facilities.”

Site events include Waikiki Beach, UH Manoa, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Hawaii Convention Center.

Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye are the games’ honorary co-chairs.

APEC on PBS Hawaii ‘Insights’

Dan Boylan welcomes Chrystn Eads, Tim Johns and Brian Schatz on “Insights” tonight to talk about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting this November.

Topics to discuss:

President Barack Obama will attend, along with leaders of the 20 other economies that make up the APEC group. What will they discuss? What preparations are under way? What will it mean for Hawaii tourism, business and economy? What are the potential traffic and security concerns?

Where’s Neil?

Here’s Neil:

• Proclamation ceremony: Veterans’ Appreciation Day, Executive Office, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• New conference: Fisheries initiative announcement, Executive Office, 2 p.m.

• Remarks: National Veterans Golden Age Games Opening Ceremony, Ft. DeRussy Kuroda Field, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Catch up on previous coverage:

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