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Watching and reporting about Hawaii from Washington Place to Washington, D.C.
In a largely symbolic rebuke of President Obama, but the U.S. House today rejected a proposal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit — currently capped at $14.3 trillion — without cutting spending.
The vote was 318-97. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono were in the minority along with about half of their Democratic colleagues.
The governor informed the state Senate today that he signed into law a bill making an emergency appropriation of $664,430 for the remainder of this fiscal year to support reapportionment and authorize five full-time temporary positions within the Office of Elections.
As reported, the 2011 Reapportionment Commission is waiting for the check to clear so they can proceed with redrawing political districts.
In related news, the governor also told the Senate he signed into law a bill that takes $42 million from the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund and puts it into the state’s general fund in order to balance the budget through June 30.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial this afternoon and make brief remarks.
Gates, who has served eight presidents, will retire this summer.
Meanwhile, Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth will join Neil Abercrombie, Darryll Wong, Will Espero and Mark Takai at the governor’s executive office this afternoon for the signing of Senate Bill 883.
The new law designates a special design Gold Star Family plate for relatives of fallen soldiers.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority says the state enjoyed a 17.8 percent rise in visitor spending — to $4.1 billion — for the first four months of 2011.
“This represents the twelfth consecutive month of double-digit increases in overall visitor spending,” the HTA said in a statement.
Total arrivals grew 8.9 percent to 2.4 million visitors, while a 4 percent decrease in the Japanese market was offset by gains from the U.S. mainland.
However, April was a bad month for Japanese travel, given the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Japanese arrivals in Hawaii plummeted 23 percent as compared with April 2010, while spending was down 13 percent.
Dan Inouye says the fate of a Marine base in Okinawa will be decided next month.
Inouye, according to the Associated Press, downplayed a letter written by John McCain, Carl Levin and Jim Webb arguing that the Defense Department should “rethink its overall plan” to restructure American forces in East Asia.
Meeting with government officials in Japan this week, Inouye said both governments believe a continued American presence in East Asia is “necessary and desired.”
Memorial Day was held on May 30 (i.e., yesterday) this month, but that’s not always the case.
Because of a 1968 federal law called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Memorial Day, Washington’s Birthday, Columbus Day and Veterans Day were moved from fixed dates to designated Mondays.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day also falls under the law, although Veterans Day was later restored to Nov. 11. (Presidents Day, of course, replaced Washington’s Birthday; Hawaii does not observe Columbus Day).
Dan Inouye has supported legislation to return Memorial Day to its original date of May 30, which was designated in 1868, three years after the Civil War.
Though the number of tax appeals rose this year, the majority were in the hotel and resort class, said County Real Property Officer Steve Hunt. Homesteaders, those who reside in the home they own, filed just 17 appeals.
“There were very few residential, condominium, commercial, industrial or homestead appeals,” he said. “While the actual count was high, given that the vast majority was isolated to three projects, it seemed like an uneventful year.”
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Hawaii County is nearly finished “ridding Mountain View Gymnasium of lead paint, but neutralizing hazardous materials at other park facilities will cost millions” and take years to finish:
Asbestos ceiling tiles and mercury-filled light tubes were among the dangers found at several of the county’s aging recreational sites, according to a two-year, $1.15 million study of 123 facilities islandwide.
Two rooms at Hilo’s Waiakea Recreation Center and the former Kona drivers’ licensing building at Kailua Park have been closed due to the presence of hazardous materials, James Komata, a planner for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said in an email response to several questions.
The Maui News reports that Kristopher Galon, “decorated by the Maui Police Department for heroism in 2004,” pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to felonies committed while on duty in Lahaina in 2007 and 2008:
He was charged earlier this month by District Attorney Florence Nakakuni with two counts of depriving a person of rights under color of law.
In one case, he stole money from a driver at a traffic stop, according to his plea agreement. In the other, he extorted a sex act from a woman who had been jailed after another officer arrested and robbed her.
Catch up on previous coverage: