Jockeying in the Hawai‘i State Legislature

As you might know, there is a lot of political jockeying going on at the legislature. Here are some blogs from Political Radar (Derrick dePledge and BJ Reyes) that will help explain some of it. The House is a mess and they have been very difficult for us to deal with on justice issues.


New bossNovember 9th, 2012, By ddepledge

State House Republicans have chosen Rep. Aaron Johanson as their new minority leader.

Johanson replaces Rep. Gene Ward, who has led House Republicans for the past two years.

Johanson (R, Mapunapuna-Aiea), who was elected two years ago, will preside over a caucus where four of seven lawmakers — including Johanson — are under the age of 33. Republicans lost a seat in Tuesday’s elections, so Democrats have a 44 to 7 advantage.

“There’s a lot of youth and energy coming into the caucus,” he said.

Johanson said the challenge for Republicans is to “provide a different perspective and add to the dialogue so that the people of Hawaii get the best possible legislation and policy outcomes for maximum benefit.”

22 to 21November 9th, 2012, By ddepledge

State House Democrats continue to be locked in a power struggle over which faction will control the House.

House Speaker Calvin Say and Rep. Joseph Souki, the former speaker backed by House dissidents, have divided the chamber’s 44 Democrats.

There was some movement on Friday afternoon when Rep. John Mizuno, who had previously been in Say’s camp but told colleagues he was on the bubble, signed on again with Say.

Say now has 22 votes, sources say, while Souki and the dissidents have 21. One newly elected lawmaker thought to be leaning toward the dissidents remains undecided.

Twenty-six votes are needed to control the 51-member House, but Democrats would prefer to organize without the help of the seven Republicans.

OrganizedNovember 8th, 2012, By ddepledge

State Senate Democrats, unlike their counterparts in the House, quickly organized after Tuesday’s election and have kept Senate President Shan Tsutsui of Maui as their leader.

Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim remains in her post, according to a Senate announcement, while Sen. David Ige is still chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria will keep his post. Sen. Clayton Hee remains chairman of the the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.

The Senate also adjusted its roster of committees, giving Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz the Senate Economic Development and Housing Committee, Sen. Malama Solomon the Senate Water and Land Committee, Sen. Brian Taniguchi the Senate Higher Education Committee, and Sen. Glenn Wakai the Senate Arts and Technology Committee.

Speaker v. SpeakerNovember 7th, 2012, By ddepledge

State House Speaker Calvin Say and state Rep. Joseph Souki, the man Say replaced as speaker 13 years ago, spent much of Wednesday counting votes to see who will control the House.

At a luncheon at Alii Place across the street from the state Capitol, Say told his loyalists that the count among Democrats was tied at 22 to 22, sources say.

Several lawmakers, however, have yet to formally sign their allegiance to Say or Souki, so sources in both camps described the situation as fluid.

Souki, who had been in Say’s camp, is now the choice of House dissidents who have sought to remove Say as speaker for several years. The dissident faction has been led by Rep. Sylvia Luke and Rep. Scott Saiki.

Many dissidents view Souki, a veteran Maui lawmaker, as the instrument to break Say’s lock on the House but not as a long-term option as speaker.

Say,  the longest serving House speaker, has lost several important allies over the past few years due to turnover in the House. Most of the new Democrats elected this year have committed to the dissident faction.

Democrats increased their majority in the House after Tuesday’s elections by one — to 44 to 7 over Republicans.

Minority Republicans had committed to Say in a leadership fight that extended to opening day of the Legislature in 2011, but Democrats eventually organized without help from Republicans.


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