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

5:18 p.m. Broadband Expansion Bill Signed

House Bill 1342 is now law, exempting broadband infrastructure improvements from state or county permitting requirements for five years, and exempting telecommunications companies from replacing utility poles when installing or improving telecommunications cables, under certain conditions.

Neil Abercrombie said in a statement, “Availability of broadband will change everything we do — from how we educate our children and deliver health care to the monitoring and control of our energy consumption.”

5:12 p.m. The Law on Fighting Dogs

Senate Bill 1069 is one of five more bills that the governor signed into law this afternoon.

This new law establishes the offense of cruelty to animals by fighting dogs in the second degree, and increases penalty for cruelty to animals by fighting dogs in the first degree.

The first degree charge applies to those who knowingly cause, sponsor, arrange or hold a dogfight for entertainment or financial gain; or own, train, transport, possess, sell, transfer or equip any dog with the intent that the dog shall be engaged in a dogfight; or recklessly allow a dogfight to occur on any property owned or controlled by the person; or allow any dog intended to be used for a dogfight to be kept, trained on, or transported in, any property owned or controlled by the person.

The second degree charge applies to people who knowingly wager on a dogfight, attend or pay to attend a dogfight, or possess any device intended to enhance a dog’s fighting ability with the intent that the device be used to train or prepare the dog for a dogfight — in that last case, for example, using a live animal as bait.

4 p.m. The Law on Killing Pets

Senate Bill 1068 is one of the 15 measures Neil Abercrombie signed into law this week.

The new law provides “that killing, or attempting to kill, the pet animal of another person without that person’s consent constitutes animal cruelty in the first degree.” It also adds “certain exceptions” to animal cruelty in the first degree.

On that latter count, the word “torture” was added to the existing statute that already prohibits mutilating or poisoning that causes the torture, mutilation or poisoning of any pet animal or equine animal “resulting in serious bodily injury or death of the pet animal or equine animal.”

Exemptions are made, however, for “humane euthanasia” by someone who has the legal authorization to do so, or in cases when it’s believed that it’s necessary “to avoid an imminent harm or evil to the actor, another person, or an animal.”

1:25 p.m. Governor Urged to Veto SB 1274

Senate Bill 1274 passed the 2011 Legislature with little opposition from lawmakers and now awaits the governor’s action.

The bill is intended to provide “uniform standards for external review procedures based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Uniform Health Carrier External Review Model Act, to comply with the requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.”

But some concerned folks, including Rafael del Castillo and Evan Shirley, want the governor to veto the bill. They’ve scheduled a meeting at 4:30 p.m. today at Room 417 in the Capitol, where they hope to speak directly with the administration about their concerns.

The arguments are complicated, but essentially opponents of SB 1274 fear that, should the measure become law, Hawaii’s Patients’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Act will be eviscerated. They say the bill is also legally flawed.

10:52 a.m. Hirono Won’t Move to Her District

Mazie Hirono has no plans to move from her residence in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District even though she represents the 2nd Congressional in Congress.

Hirono has told the Associated Press that, because she and her husband live with Hirono’s elderly mother in Honolulu, a move to a new residence would be disruptive.

Hirono is also vacating the 2nd District seat to run for the U.S. Senate.

Earlier this month, Colleen Hanabusa — who represents the 1st District — announced that she had rented a property in that district in order to fulfill a campaign promise.

Hanabusa, who is pondering a Senate run as well, is a longtime resident of the 2nd District.

Reps Call for Investigation Into TSA Firings

The Hill reports that Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) say that the Transportation Security Administration‘s proposed firing of more than 30 employees at Hawaii International Airport for improperly screening checked baggage should be investigated:

In a letter the Republicans sent to the Department of Homeland Security, the congressmen say the firings raise questions about TSA’s effectiveness:

Mica and Chaffetz have pushed for more private airport security screenings, arguing that they would be more effective than government employees from the TSA.

“We, along with our colleagues in Congress, continue to be concerned with the Transportation Security Administration’s management and oversight of its federal screener operations,” they wrote to acting DHS Inspector General Charles Edwards.

Mizuno Briefings at the Capitol

It may be summer and the Legislature may be out of session, but John Mizuno has scheduled no less than two briefings today.

The first, set for 10 a.m., is to review “the proposed 3% reduction for Community Care Foster Family Homes under contract with Ohana Health or Ever Care Health plans.”

The second, set for 11:35 a.m., is to review “the issue of domestic violence in our community and the state’s system of dealing with victims of domestic violence.”

Inouye and the Weather

Dan Inouye has been advised by 14 of his colleagues — “many from states hard hit by a rash of tornadoes and ongoing flooding” — of “potentially grave consequences” if Congress continues to “short change an overdue effort” to replace the nation’s polar-orbiting weather satellites.

That’s according to a report in Space News, which says the senators sent a letter June 17 to Inouye and Thad Cochran, the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Committee:

“As you know, a harmful loss of satellite coverage is already slated to occur in coming years, and we are deeply concerned that without adequate funding to swiftly implement the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Joint Polar Satellite System, American lives, property, and prosperity will be needlessly endangered,” the senators wrote. They did not call for a specific amount of funding.

NOAA’s 2012 budget request, submitted to Congress in February, included $1.06 billion for JPSS. Agency officials, however, have said even if the full amount is provided, the nation still risks a minimum one-year gap in weather satellite coverage.

Inouye and Kennedy

The Hill reports that Orrin Hatch has won the famous Capitol hideaway office that once belonged to Ted Kennedy, which has “long been considered the pinnacle of insider prestige”:

Hatch didn’t think he would have a chance to snag the famous hideaway, since a few Democrats rank ahead of him in seniority.

The few Democratic senators with more seniority, Sens. Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.), passed on Kennedy’s hideaway.

Akaka and Students

Dan Akaka is holding a hearing today (at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in D.C.) titled “Inspiring Students to Federal Service.”

The idea is to examine how the federal government can partner with universities to prepare and recruit students “for hard-to-fill, critical positions” within the federal government, according to a press release:

Approximately half of all federal employees will be eligible to retire within the next few years, and developing a new generation of federal workers is vital.

Ward, Slom and Foodland

Gene Ward and Sam Slom will hold a town hall tonight at Kaiser High School to discuss the closure of the Foodland grocery store in the Koko Marina Shopping Center in Hawaii Kai.

“Many residents have come to rely on Foodland for many decades, and it was a real shocker to learn of their abrupt closing on July 10. What we hope to gain by this meeting is a better understanding of what took place and why, and what, if anything, can be done to prevent Foodland’s departure,” Ward said in a statement.

Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

West Hawaii Today reports that County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong has called an emergency meeting Friday to vote on whether the council should hire an outside attorney to verify the legality of the county budget:

The move, announced at a news conference Monday, comes as the council nears a June 30 deadline to override Mayor Billy Kenoi‘s June 15 budget veto. Kenoi had vetoed the budget the council had passed on a 9-0 vote, claiming amendments inserted by the council are illegal.

Kenoi’s veto message was bolstered by an opinion from Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida, who represents both the council and the administration. Ashida said he researched the budget amendments after concerns were raised by the county Finance Department.

The Maui News reports that state DOT will discuss alternatives tomorrow evening to protect the shoreline of Kahului Harbor and to shield a segment of Kahului Beach Road from erosion:

Department spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said that if the state doesn’t address the erosion problem, then wave action could compromise the road within five to 10 years.

The state has estimated the project’s cost at $5 million, although that amount could be less because the project is in its “early planning stages.”


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