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Legislature convenes with changing of the guard

By B.J. Reyes

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:50 p.m. HST, Jan 16, 2013


The 27th state Legislature was gaveled into session today, marked by the usual fanfare of song and entertainment and leadership changes in both chambers.

House members chose a new speaker for the first time in 14 years, returning to the post a familiar face in Speaker Emeritus Rep. Joe Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku).

Souki, backed by a coalition that includes the chamber’s seven Republicans, takes command of the House from the man who ousted him as speaker after the 1998 election, Rep. Calvin Say (D, Palolo-St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki).

In his opening remarks, Souki acknowledged challenges faced by the state caused in large part by a sluggish economy, and called on colleagues to proceed “intelligently.”

“We have the chance now, to rebuild what the recession took away,” he said in prepared remarks.

Souki called for a mix of strategies to generate more state revenues in an equitable fashion.

Those strategies include rethinking various tax credits and taking a serious look at the costs of those credits to the state. He also called for an incremental roll back in the personal tax burden for people with lower incomes and the middle class.

Souki also thanked Say for his 14 years of service in the speaker’s chair. Recognizing Souki’s support, Say said prior to session he would not seek the speaker’s post.

Say offered today a floor amendment that provided his loyalists a chance to vote on the record for his chosen successor, Rep. Marcus Oshiro. The amendment was rejected by a voice vote.

House Minority Leader Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson (R, Fort Shafter, Moanalua Gardens-Aliamanu) also thanked Say for his service and said Republicans would work hard to find common ground, and respectfully dissent where they felt it necessary.

He said Republicans would seek legislation to increase protections for children and the elderly, guard against cost of living increases and improve accountability and transparency in government.

“On these issues, where common ground and common cause can be found, we will work hard to find it,” Johanson said in prepared remarks.

In the Senate, President Donna Mercado Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) took the gavel from former President Shan Tsutsui, who was promoted to lieutenant governor last month. Tsutsui had been president since the start of the 2010 session.

Kim also acknowledged the state’s improved economic outlook that greets lawmakers to start the 2013 session.

“After several years of belt-tightening, we’re greeting this session with a rosier economic outlook,” Kim said in prepared remarks.

She stressed the need to hold the line on taxes to not overburden families still struggling through the recession.

“We still have lingering fiscal concerns and potential new ones, among them possible cutbacks in federal funding, and many are looking to the state to make up the difference,” she said. “Despite all of these demands, and the anticipation of better economic times, I hope, first and foremost, that there will be no new tax burdens thrust upon our citizens -- that we will not automatically open the taxpayers’ pocketbooks to every budget request, every new proposal, every capital improvement project.”







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mcc wrote:
Legalize marijuana and collect taxes forom all the crops that are growing in our State. Police will save millions of wasted green harvest money and con concentrate on "real" crimes. A lottery can also help pay teachers what they deserve.
on January 16,2013 | 11:14AM
false wrote:
You sound very progressive. That's how this legislature needs to start thinking. How about shrinking government? That would also be a good move.
on January 16,2013 | 11:18AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
Where do you propose government be cut?
on January 16,2013 | 06:03PM
olos73 wrote:
Maybe now we can bring in money WITHOUT TAXING the residents.
on January 16,2013 | 11:24AM
hanoz808 wrote:
yes, there are a lot of departments that have so many "managers"
on January 16,2013 | 11:55AM
HaoleGuy wrote:
Which ones? So vague..need specific examples you know of personally or else your post is a waste of time.
on January 16,2013 | 10:23PM
ISCREAM wrote:
We can legalize MJ so that we can collect taxes to pay for the next step in drug addiction...
on January 16,2013 | 05:15PM
false wrote:
Gee, I wonder how it felt with whom you thought was loyal voting against you. It all about power not loyalty.
on January 16,2013 | 11:58AM
islandsun wrote:
The guard hasnt really changed. Developers and construction unions rule.
on January 16,2013 | 12:02PM
Leinanij wrote:
Again, the SA is not even present. The picture is obviously not from today. No picture and no mention of the hundreds of people at the capitol for the We the People / Idle No More Hawai'i Rally. What is the SA trying to hide? That there are actually concerned citizens that want to be heard but the mainstream media can't be bothered to do its job?
on January 16,2013 | 12:53PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Well if u r talking about the pic that shows Neil and Dan in the background, it looks like today, because for one thing, the caption of the pic says today. Secondly, the pic of Neil and Dan looks correct as their hair has not grown or turned any whiter than the time Dan got honored by Neil. I know this is not as amusing as David Shapiro or Frank deLima, however can anyone top them?
on January 16,2013 | 04:01PM
HaoleGuy wrote:
I was there and that is from today. The people outside were too busy chanting and keeping their kids out of school instead of learning to actually see what was happening inside the chamber. I wonder what would happen if they took an entire public elementary school to the state capital to protest something during the school day, instead of a publicly funded charter school?
on January 16,2013 | 10:26PM
allie wrote:
Good...let us hope they make fair and decent decisons
on January 16,2013 | 02:56PM
HD36 wrote:
Are we really out of a recession? What if the Federal Reserve stops buying $45 billion in mortgage backed securities and $40 billion worth of US Treasury Bonds per month? What if US Treasury Bonds, which are at 240 year highs start to fall and interest rates go up? The government can barely service the interest on the debt at record low rates. Do you think they'll be sending any money to Hawaii? The entire tax hike on the rich was wiped out by the Hurrican Sandy bailout. You think miniting a trillion dollar platinmum coin is going to solve the debt crisis? It only shows that we're becoming a banana republic.
on January 16,2013 | 04:03PM
entrkn wrote:
Joe Souki will do a great job for Hawaii and we all need to get behind him just as the Legislature has.
on January 16,2013 | 06:28PM
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