Editor’s note: These are the closing remarks made by Senate President Donna Mercado Kim on May 2, 2013
BY SENATE PRESIDENT DONNA MERCADO KIM – As this 27th Legislative session draws to a close, I would like to take this time to thank all of you for the amount of work and passion you have devoted to representing your respective districts.
While we all have different issues that we are passionate about, this body and the House of Representatives can take a good measure of satisfaction in what we were able to achieve collectively.
We began the year with unexpected changes thrust upon us with little time to prepare ourselves. But the Senate adjusted, and we did what was needed to ready ourselves for the responsibility entrusted to us by the electorate.
While it took the House a little longer, the new leadership of both houses brought refreshing changes.
We dealt with the uncertainty in the direction of our economic recovery and the pent-up demand to restore the cutbacks of recent years and evaluated and considered hundreds of proposals as part of our normal course of business.
Despite the scope of the work before us, I believe we fulfilled our obligations as legislators and succeeded in providing a solid foundation for the continued progress of our island community.
I would be remiss in not highlighting the huge change both Houses adopted in the way we deliberated over the budget and how we dealt with the final day of conference committees.
Gone were the late nights of agree/disagree/limbo budget volleying. Gone was the Friday deadline extensions and the chaos that ensued in Committee Room 309, making decisions while the midnight dead line loomed.
We were able to accomplish this largely due to the our money chairs and vice chairs closing the budget and CIP in record time and by House and Senate leadership sticking to a firm deadline with not a single extension on bill negotiations. This took discipline from both houses and I commend all of you for that.
But this day, and every day of our session, was not of our own doing. So I’d like to take this opportunity, speaking for all Senators, to extend our heartfelt and profound gratitude to those who worked on our behalf and that of all the people of Hawaii.
I speak of our unseen heroes – our legislative aides, office managers, and support staff who kept us informed and got us where we needed to be, on time and worked long hours into the night and on weekends.
Our Senate Clerk – Carole Taniguchi and her staff, who ensured that our bills and committee reports were timely and properly, prepared the orders of the day, and oversaw the many legal nuances of the legislative process.
The Ways and Means and Judiciary staffers, who made preparations long before we formally convened in anticipation of the complex measures we were to consider and were often the last ones to leave this building.
The sergeant-at-arms – Ben Villaflor and his staff, who prepared our committee rooms, kept order in the gallery and assisted us with everything from the mundane to the impossible.
Data Systems – Jon Shimabuku and his staff kept us both connected and paperless. The document center – Tia Lobendahn and Journal clerk – Grace Wong did a remarkable job in keeping abreast of the day-to-day flurry of activity.
The Senate Majority Office – Casey Hines, Richard Wada, and the SMA staff, Senate Minority Office –Sam Slom with Paul & Herb, and Legislative Reference Bureau – Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi.
These teams did yeoman’s work in drafting bills, committee reports, legal checks and dealt with Chairs to get research and committee reports completed yesterday.
Capitol TV and the Public Access Room who brought our proceedings to the public.
Finally, on a personal note for my staff Terrance, Gina, Frances, Daniel, Nancy, Lauren and volunteers Bridget and Sam I don’t thank them enough for all that they do and for stepping up to help me fulfill my duties as President.
Please members join me in a standing ovation to commend and thank these exceptional people for their professionalism and commitment to this institution.
I dare to say that this has been a productive and successful session. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t always easy. But I am not only proud of what we achieved but appreciative of your spirit of teamwork and aloha.
While we may not always agree on specific ideas, we can all agree that we want the people of Hawaii to enjoy a quality of life second to none and a future filled with hope and opportunity.
Let’s keep our eyes on this goal and let it inspire us to continue working together in the interim.
Because even though the session formally ends today, we all know that our work continues throughout the interim.
Committee Chairs you will be getting a memo soon requesting that you pick an interim project to work on that will to prepare us and could be included in our Majority package for the 28th Legislative Session.
But for now, let’s sine die, and collectively join in with our House colleagues …. for a House/Senate end of session gathering.