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Coffman takes over as state House Energy Committee chairman

Big Island Rep. Denny Coffman is taking over as chairman for the House Energy & Environmental Protection Committee.

The House unanimously voted him chairman last week to replace former Kauai Rep. Hermina Morita, who Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed as chairwoman for the Public Utilities Commission.

Coffman, a Democrat representing Keauhou-Honokohau, previously served as vice chairman for the committee since the 2009 legislative session, the first after his 2008 election.

New Rep. Derek Kawakami, a Democrat representing Hanalei and Kapaa, takes over as the committee’s vice chairman.

Kawakami was sworn into office last week to Morita’s former seat.

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