Capitol Watch

Hawaii Politics & Government

The BeatCapitol Watch

Group Wants $150K for Consultant to Help with Hotel Tax Revenue Recommendation

Report to Hawaii Legislature looks at history of how much TAT money the state gives the counties.

·By Nathan Eagle

A working group that’s trying to figure out how just much hotel tax revenue the state should give the counties is planning to ask the Legislature for $150,000 next session so it can hire a consultant to help.

The 13-member group, created under a law passed last year, released its interim report to state lawmakers Friday.

The final report is due prior to the convening of the 2016 session. It’s expected to recommend to the Legislature the appropriate allocation of the transient accommodations tax revenues between the state and counties based on the division of

The BeatCapitol Watch

Ige Appoints Pressler to Head Hawaii Department of Health

Pressler currently serves as chief strategic officer at Hawaii Pacific Health.

·By Nathan Eagle

Gov. David Ige has appointed Dr. Virginia “Ginny” Pressler to head the Department of Health, taking over where Linda Rosen left off.

“Ginny has more than 35 years of experience in the medical field and has held administrative positions for more than two decades,” Ige said in a statement released Friday. “A well-respected member of Hawaii’s medical and business communities, Ginny’s wealth of knowledge and experience equips her to lead the Department of Health.”

Ginny Pressler

Office of the Governor

Pressler’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. She is currently

The BeatCapitol Watch

University Hires State Budget Director to Be Chief Financial Officer

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has approved Kalbert Young's appointment.

·By Nathan Eagle

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Kalbert Young as vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer of the entire UH System, school officials announced.

Young served four years as finance director under Gov. Neil Abercrombie, overseeing the state’s $12 billion operating budget. He’s credited with helping turn Hawaii around financially during his tenure.

But with a new administration comes a new Cabinet, which left Young looking for a new job. Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday that Wes Machida, who headed the Employees’ Retirement System under Abercrombie,

PoliticsThe BeatCapitol Watch

Louie Out, Hawaii To Get New Attorney General

New Hawaii Gov. David Ige is still looking for a replacement, but admits it might be challenging to lure someone from the private sector.

·By Nick Grube

David Louie’s term at Hawaii’s attorney general ended when David Ige was sworn in as governor Monday at the State Capitol.

David Louie is no longer Hawaii’s attorney general.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ige will not keep Louie in his cabinet, and instead will be relying upon Russell Suzuki on an interim basis until a successor is chosen.

Suzuki was Louie’s first deputy attorney general for the past four years.

Ige told reporters at his first press conference that it’s been a challenge to fill certain cabinet positions in part

The BeatCapitol Watch

Final Preparations Underway Before Ige’s Inauguration

Roughly 2,000 seats have been set up in the Capitol rotunda for Monday's ceremony.

·By Nathan Eagle

The normally empty open-air rotunda at the Capitol was quickly filling up with people Monday morning for David Ige’s swearing-in ceremony.

The longtime state lawmaker is set to become Hawaii’s eighth elected governor at noon. 

An estimated 2,000 chairs have been set up along with a stage where Ige and his lieutenant governor, Shan Tsutsui, will take their oaths of office.

Chairs in the Hawaii Capitol rotunda are starting to fill up as people rehearse before the crowds arrive for David Ige’s inauguration ceremony Monday.

The BeatCapitol Watch

House Speaker Unveils Leadership Positions, Committee Chairs

Luke retains control of Finance; Rhoads keeps Judiciary; Tsuji takes control of Agriculture.

·By Nathan Eagle

House Speaker Joe Souki and the Democratic majority met in caucus briefly Wednesday afternoon before unveiling the 2015 leadership team and committee chair assignments for next legislative session, which convenes Jan. 21.

“The team that we have formed represents the kind of talents and abilities that will best serve our residents and will address the issues facing our state,” Souki said in a statement. “We look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions with Governor-elect David Ige and his administration to continue to identify ideas and solutions to help Hawaii move forward.”


The BeatCapitol Watch

James Pflueger Donates $4,000 to Libertarian Jeff Davis’ Campaign

The Honolulu car dealer was sentenced to jail soon after giving the Hawaii candidate for governor his biggest contribution yet.

·By Nathan Eagle

Two weeks before retired Honolulu car dealership owner James Pflueger was sentenced to jail for his role in the fatal Ka Loko dam breach, he made one of the biggest political donations of his life.

State campaign finance records filed this week show Pflueger gave $4,000 to Jeff Davis, the Libertarian candidate for Hawaii governor, on Sept. 30.

Pflueger, 88, was sentenced Oct. 15 to seven months in jail after pleading no contest in July 2013 to reckless endangering in the first degree. State prosecutors had alleged that Pflueger had illegally filled

The BeatCapitol Watch

Hawaii Rep. Awana: Don’t Dump Illegal Fireworks on Waianae Coast

Lawmaker is "exasperated" by plan to store and blow up the cache of fireworks involved in the 2011 fatal explosion.

·By Nathan Eagle

Hawaii Rep. Karen Awana sharply criticized a plan Monday that calls for using a rural property on the Waianae Coast as a place to store and dispose of a large cache of illegal fireworks.

The commercial-grade fireworks are the remnants of a stash that was involved in the 2011 explosion at a Waikele storage bunker that killed five people.

“This plan to bring hazardous fireworks into our backyard is downright exasperating,” Awana said in a statement. “Both the state and city have used the Waianae Coast as a dumping ground for far too

The BeatCapitol Watch

Pflueger Headed to Prison Over Fatal Ka Loko Dam Breach

Judge sentences retired auto dealership owner to seven months behind bars.

·By Nathan Eagle

Retired Honolulu car dealership owner Jimmy Pflueger was sentenced Wednesday morning to seven months in prison over the Ka Loko dam breach on Kauai that killed seven people more than eight years ago according to a KHON report.

Pflueger, 88, pleaded no contest in July 2013 to reckless endangering in the first degree. The state dropped seven manslaughter charges as part of the plea agreement, which included his company, Pacific 808 Properties, paying $350,000 — $50,000 for each victim.

The state had alleged that Pflueger had illegally filled in the dam’s

The BeatCapitol Watch

Fightland Features Kauai Mayoral Candidate’s Fight Against GMOs

New video explains former pro surfer, MMA fighter Dustin Barca's battle against Monsanto, Syngenta.

·By Nathan Eagle

Former pro surfer and MMA fighter Dustin Barca got some help in his uphill battle to unseat Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. this fall.

Fightland, a VICE show, released a nine-minute video this week about Barca’s fight against genetically modified seed companies, like Monsanto and Syngenta, that spurred him to seek office.

For a first-time candidate, he put up a strong showing in the Aug. 9 primary, securing 31 percent of the vote to Carvalho’s 58 percent. The general election results next month probably won’t differ too much, but it does say a lot about the

The BeatCapitol Watch

State Health Insurance Exchange Hires New Director

The Hawaii Health Connector board has tapped a longtime energy exec to lead the organization.

·By Nathan Eagle

Jeffrey Kissell will take over as head of the state’s beleaguered health insurance marketplace, known as the Hawaii Health Connector, according to an announcement from the board Friday.

Kissell, who spent his career working for energy companies, most recently as CEO of Hawaii GAS, replaces interim Executive Director Tom Matsuda. Matsuda took the reins after the initial executive director, Coral Andrews, resigned in December amid criticism of her management.

“I believe that everyone deserves to have health insurance coverage, and the Hawai‘i Health Connector is a highly viable resource

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Do You ‘Care Like Crazy’ About Women’s Rights, War, Student Loans?

Rock the Vote has launched a $250,000 ad campaign to get Millennials to vote this election.

·By Nathan Eagle

“Asians. You can work them long hours, they do what you tell them and they don’t complain.”

That’s how one of several new Rock the Vote ads begins, part of the nonprofit’s $250,000 national media campaign that launched Thursday to get young people to the polls on Nov. 4.

The actor delivering those words is portraying a type of voter. This ad, as well as several others like it, is meant to be offensive and spur Millennials in particular to stand up for their beliefs by casting ballots for candidates who support their views.

The ads are part of Rock the