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Saturday, April 1, 2000

Legislature 2000


Senate could act
on attorney general’s
confirmation Monday

By Pat Omandam


The full Senate as early as Monday could take up the confirmation of state Attorney General Earl Anzai.

On April 28, 1999, the 25-member Senate surprised and angered many in the community by shooting down the confirmations of Anzai as state budget director by a 15-10 vote and Margery Bronster as attorney general by a 14-11 vote.

The governor later decided to name Anzai as interim attorney general. Bronster returned to private practice.

The Senate session begins at 11:30 a.m. on Monday.

Meanwhile, also seeking Senate confirmation is District Court Judge Karen Ahn, who has been appointed by Cayetano to a 10-year term as a Circuit Court judge.

In other news happening at the State Capitol:

TWO SCOOPS OF RICE: Four weeks after they said they would, the state and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs last Thursday filed a joint motion with the Hawaii Supreme Court seeking clarification on the Rice decision.

Specifically, they want to know if the Rice vs. Cayetano decision created a vacancy on the OHA board. If so, when did it occur, who under state law can fill the vacancy, and what time period does this person have to do so?

Cayetano believes the Feb. 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling created vacancies in eight of the nine trustee seats. The OHA board believes the Rice decision did not address the matter at all.

ROCKSLIDES AND AUDITS: Two Senate committees hold an informational briefing at 1 p.m. Tuesday to review the state audit of the state Highways Division and to hear from the Transportation Department on its plans for future rockslide preparedness in the aftermath of the Waimea Bay rock fall.

FLOWERS AND FINS: The Senate Water, Land and Hawaiian Affairs panel will hear a bill on Monday that establishes an official color and flower or lei material for each of the Hawaiian islands.

Senators also vote on a bill that limits the possession, purchase, sale or trade of shark fins. A similar bill died in conference committee last year.

If approved, the measures go to the full House and Senate for final approval.

ON THE RECORD: House and Senate leaders plan to open proceedings in conference committees, where last-minute decisions are made on bills.

Senate President Norman Mizuguchi (D, Aiea) said this week he would recommend both chambers open these formerly closed sessions so long as there is a quorum of members in attendance.

A written record of the vote should also be kept, he said.

UNIVERSITY CLEANUP: The University of Hawaii wants $1.3 million from the state Legislature to pay fines and correct hazardous waste problems. About $505,000 would pay fines to the state Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The remaining $800,000 would be spent on pollution prevention and waste minimization projects.

STATE LAWSUITS: The state may pay more than $6 million to settle about 40 lawsuits against the state and the UH.

The state attorney general wants about $4.6 million to cover a range of issues, including injuries attributed to wet floors or uneven sidewalks, alleged job discrimination, and alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND: Big Island landowner Sheila Watumull and her attorney, E. Gunner Schull, met with lawmakers this week over a House proposal to build a 1,700-bed prison and substance-abuse treatment facility for Hawaii inmates on part of her 2,200-acre property at King's Landing.

Watumull offered to donate about 200 acres for the prison site in exchange for the roads and utilities that would make the area viable for urban and resort development, Schull said.

"I think I feel a little better now that we have had a chance to actually talk to the property owner," said House Public Safety Chairman Nestor Garcia (D, Waikele).

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