Will the new state Senate stand for something?
I like what I’ve seen so far of the state Senate’s new leadership in the wake of former President Colleen Hanabusa’s departure for Congress.
The two guys most prominently out front — President Shan Tsutsui, 39, of Maui, and Ways and Means Chairman David Ige, 53, of Aiea-Pearl City, are smart, fresh and earnest leaders who have shown good evidence of social conscience.
Both have earned reputations as work horses in the Senate, as opposed to show ponies who hog the spotlight while others do the heavy lifting.
Brickwood Galuteria as majority leader, Les Ihara Jr. as floor leader, Ron Kouchi as caucus leader and Suzanne Chun Oakland and Will Espero as majority whips all are relatively new to leadership. I look forward to seeing what they can do about making the Senate stand for something.
Of course, some longtime power brokers who helped shape the new coalition will still hold a lot of sway behind the scenes — primarily Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Rosalyn Baker.
Kim relinquished the Ways and Means chair, but she returns as vice president and will chair a new panel, Investigations and Tourism, that enables her to indulge her two passions — playing “gotcha” with the administration, as former Gov. Ben Cayetano put it, and terrorizing tourism marketers.
One of my correspondents who follows the Legislature closely described the mission of the new Kim committee thusly: “I’m going to get you, my pretties, and your little dog, too. Bwhahahaha!!!” Sounds about right.
A committee assignment that raised eyebrows was Sen. Clayton Hee’s return as Judiciary chairman after he wreaked so much havoc in two previous incarnations that he had to be replaced — once by voters and once by leadership. But give Hee credit for resiliency and a knack for gravitating to the right place when the 13 votes are counted.
Stalwarts of the old Hanabusa faction such as Sens. Brian Taniguchi and Dwight Takamine were frozen out. I’m sure Hanabusa will enjoy Washington winters more than she would have liked Siberia.
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