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

4:44 p.m. Tweets from Brian and Neil

Brian Schatz is in D.C., as Hawaii’s representative to the Military Affairs Council (MAC). The LG is also meeting with other federal officials during his stay.

“Enjoyed a productive meeting with U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Dan Inouye,” Shatz (@brianschatz) tweeted today. He has 2,417 followers.

Meanwhile, Neil Abercrombie sent out two tweets (@neilabercrombie, 8,838 followers), both about Richard Lim‘s speech to the Hawaii Economic Association two weeks ago. Both include a link to the speech.

“General Funds Info — above line is mandated & most goes to education, caring for old, needy, sick, & interest on debt,” tweeted the gov.

Note: Lim’s speech is also excerpted for Civil Beat here.

2:33 p.m. Four Revenue Bills Become Law

Neil Abercrombie has signed four measures intended to raise revenue for the state.

They are:

Senate Bill 754, which temporarily suspends some general excise tax exemptions; Senate Bill 1186, which caps the HTA’s and the counties’ share of the hotel tax and levies the TAT on complimentary furnished rooms; House Bill 1039, which increases the rental motor vehicle surcharge; and Senate Bill 570, which eliminates the state tax deduction for high incomes.

1:48 p.m. U.S. Reps Vote for Military Construction, VA Benefits

Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa were in the majority today when the U.S. House voted 411-5 on a bill that, according to a report from The Hill, “increases funding for the VA by 5.8 percent and cuts military construction spending by $2.6 billion to reflect anticipated base closures and realignments.”

The Hill continues:

The measure was approved after several amendment votes on Monday night. By a 204-203 vote, members approved an amendment that would make it easier for the government to enter into contract labor agreements for military construction projects.

Hirono and Hanabusa were in the majority on that vote, too.

However, the Hawaii reps were in the minority on a 235-180 vote today on an agricultural spending bill. The Hill reports:

House Democrats on Tuesday argued that proposed Republican cuts to agricultural programs would literally starve needy Americans, while Republicans argued that Democrats were demagoguing a bill that actually increases food assistance programs and cuts in other areas.

11:35 a.m. Water Main Break Closes Kaneohe Court House

The state Judiciary has closed the Kaneohe district court for the rest of the day because of a water main break this morning on the Windward Side.

According to a press statement, court officials anticipate the building will be open to the public tomorrow morning.

As a result of the outage, the Hawaii Supreme Court is expected to issue an order extending by one day any Kaneohe district court matter with a filing or hearing due date of June 14.

11:20 a.m. Akaka Wants Fed Action on Mortgage Servicers

Dan Akaka is among a dozen senators who have sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency urging the agency to work with state and federal agencies “to hold mortgage servicers accountable for deficient servicing procedures and improperly foreclosing on homeowners and to develop a comprehensive solution to fix the broken foreclosure process,” according to a press release.

The letter to Comptroller John Walsh says, “We urge you to take every opportunity to ensure that servicers not only account for past harms, but also take steps to prevent future servicing deficiencies so that homeowners going forward are treated fairly.”

Several federal agencies and state Attorneys General have opened investigations into mortgage practices by major banks, including the use of “robo-signers” to sign hundreds of unread foreclosure documents a day.

Kauai Cops Warn of Email Scam

The Garden Island reports that the Kauai Police Department is warning residents against an email scam aimed at obtaining money from the elderly and other Kauaians:

Police have received reports of an email that claims to be from Officer Patrick Menino of the Hawaii County Police Department requesting money, a county press release states. The email includes a photograph of Menino along with an image of the HCPD police badge. The images were obtained from HCPD’s public website.

Menino is an active police officer with HCPD’s community relations department but has no connection or involvement with this scam. The perpetrators have been using the email address HawaiiPoliceDepartment@yahoo.com to send messages to local residents.

A preliminary investigation reveals that this scam may be originating from Nigeria, the release states.

Deficit talks Resume

Dan Inouye (@Daniel_Inouye) tweeted out earlier today that he is busy discussing the federal budget with Joe Biden, Max Baucus and Eric Cantor.

As POLITICO reports, Republicans are still seeking “deep cuts from domestic spending and foreign aid,” while Democrats are “hoping for a breakthrough soon so Congress can avoid a repeat of April’s high drama over a government shutdown.”

The two sides, however, are said to be more than $1.1 trillion apart in coming to agreement.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that the talks have “picked up speed” and will continue tomorrow and Thursday.

“Congress faces an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling or risk sending the country spiraling into default,” the Post reports.

Inouye, Akaka Vote ‘Nay’ on Ending Ethanol Subsidies

The Senate today “voted against killing off $6 billion in tax breaks” for ethanol producers, The Hill reports.

Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye were among the 59 senators who voted against a motion to invoke cloture. Cloture is a procedure in which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill and overcome a filibuster.

Republicans from agricultural states were among those speaking out against the measure from by Sen. Tom Coburn, a fiscally conservative Republican from Oklahoma who believes the tax breaks needlessly helped oil companies that sell gasoline blended with ethanol.

Ward: Gov’s Pro Bowl Talk ‘Short-Sighted’

Gene Ward offers his take on Neil Abercrombie‘s recent statements on the state paying to sponsor the NFL Pro Bowl.

Excerpt:

I am sorry to see that our governor is choosing to continue with the short-sighted strategy that he and others employed during the 2011 session. …

That our current governor would criticize and belittle the benefits of investing just a little money in the private sector to bring nearly $30 million into our economy is shameful.

Abercrombie the Weightlifter

Slate has posted a report about that photo of a shirtless Anthony Weiner taken in the locker room of the congressional gym.

The post notes that the Senate’s gym is in better shape than the House’s, even though House reps have been trying for a decade to upgrade their facilities.

Slate notes as well the following:

In 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fought off an $8 million funding request from Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a Hawaii Democrat who wishes to maintain his ability to bench press 200 pounds more than his age. (Abercrombie, now the 72-year-old governor of Hawaii, can bench 272 pounds.)


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