Friday, November 27, 2015         

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House Dems share top posts with dissidents

By Derrick DePledge


The state House approved a new leadership and committee chairmanship lineup yesterday, revealing the power-sharing agreement that ended a leadership stalemate on Wednesday.

The House also expanded its leadership structure to include four additional majority whips and increased the number of committees to 20 from 18.

State House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Palolo Valley-Wilhelmina Rise) and his loyalists kept most of the influential posts and committees, such as the majority leader and the chairmanships of the House Finance and Consumer Protection and Commerce committees.

But dissidents picked up two leadership posts -- up from one -- and seven committee chairmanships, up from four last session. The biggest plum for dissidents was the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.

"I've shared with the caucus that we should move on," Say said of the leadership dispute, "and that there should be no animosity or bad feelings at this point in time.

"Let us all work together."

Some dissidents, however, noted that a few of Say's loyalists were rewarded with both committee chairmanships and vice chairmanships while three of the leading dissidents -- state Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Pacific Heights-Pauoa-Punchbowl), Rep. Scott Saiki (D, Moiliili-McCully-Kaimuki) and Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Waiau-Pearl City) -- received nothing.

"The public has to be the judge of whether or not the lineup truly reflects inclusion and tapping the talents of everyone," said Rep. Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Momilani-Pacific Palisades), a dissident who kept his chairmanship of the House Education Committee.

Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran (D, Wailuku-Puunene-Makawao), an attorney who is the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his immediate focus will likely be on the budget for the courts. He said would determine how to proceed on a civil-unions bill after hearing from the caucus.

"I think the Democratic majority is united. And the people that have been appointed to the chairmanships? I think the vote on the floor reflected that today," he said of the voice vote to approve the lineup with only one objection.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe Bay) objected to the lack of Republican representation.

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