The Hawaii State Senate has elected its leadership and assigned its committee heads, just hours after the results of the November 6 election were announced and well before the January 16, 2013 session is set to begin.
All of the majority party leaders will remain in place: Sen. Shan Tsutsui, D-Maui, will continue as President; Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, D-Moanalua, will remain as vice president; Brickwood Galuteria will stay as Majority Leader; and Sen. David Ige, D-Pearl City, will continue as Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, with Sen. Michelle Kidani, D-Mililani, serving as Vice Chair. Kim will also chair two committees, the Senate Committee on Tourism and Government Operations and the Special Committee on Accountability.
“The Senate would like to buck the trend across the country of faction-based and partisan politics, which has too often delayed or stalled progress on important initiatives. By sharing the power amongst more Senators, we hope to foster a more cooperative institution that can focus on and work towards the resolution of our most pressing issues,” Tsutsui said.
“We are excited to have reached agreement so quickly. This will allow us to focus our attention on the issues and begin preparations for the 2013 session,” Ige said.
All committee vice chairs will be announced next week.
Sen. Sam Slom, the lone Republican in the state Senate, will remain as Senate Minority Leader and Minority Floor leader and will serve on all Senate committees. That should be even more challenging this year, as the Senate has increased the number of committees from 15 to 17.
Meanwhile in the House, the leadership battle continues as House Speaker Calvin Say struggles to retain his post. Democrats hold all but 7 seats in the State House of Representatives.
The Republicans have completed their re-organized. Rep. Gene Ward, R, Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley, who served as Minority Leader, said in a statement today he will step down as the House Minority Caucus leader to allow younger representatives to take a leadership role.
“I’m proud of our new Caucus that has just been infused with youth, brains and energy. Our caucus faced some tough losses this election cycle, but we came out of it with a caucus in which the majority of members are under the age of 33. Giving them the opportunity to lead is the right thing to do,” Ward said.
Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, R- Mililani, will replace Ward as House Minority Leader. “I’m honored to be leading the Republicans in the State House. Gene Ward has always encouraged and mentored young leaders, and I appreciate his decision to push us forward. His advice and counsel will continue to be instrumental in moving the Republican caucus in new directions for the benefit of our state and its future,” Johanson said.
Newly elected Rep. Beth Fukumoto, R-Miliani, will serve as House Minority Floor Leader. Fukumoto is married to GOP Chairman David Chang.
The Senate committee chairs are listed below: