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House will decide if Rep. Say should lose his seat

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In what’s believed to be a first in the Hawaii state Legislature, lawmakers have decided to formally investigate whether to strip one of their own of his seat based on residency issues.

House Democratic leaders announced Wednesday that they’ve created a special committee to look into the latest challenges over whether Rep. Calvin Say (D, Palolo-St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki) actually lives in his House district and is qualified to represent it.

That committee, composed of six House leaders, will weigh the evidence at a future hearing and give its recommendation to the full House for a floor vote on Say’s future, officials say.

The move comes after years of assertions from some voters and political opponents that Say actually lives in Pauoa Valley – not Palolo Valley.

House Speaker Joseph Souki said Wednesday that the chamber was moving forward with the special committee to examine Say’s qualifications in this session because of a recent court decision that gave the House authority over the matter. 

The committee will specifically address the most recent challenge on Say’s residency filed by attorney Lance Collins on behalf of six area voters.

“This is quite new to all of us. We are really setting some precedent by doing this,” Souki said of the new committee. “We welcome to do it, although sometime it may seem unpleasant … It’s a responsibility that we take seriously.”

Those on the House special committee are Reps. Karl Rhoads, John Mizuno, Scott Saiki, Cindy Evans, Ken Ito and Beth Fukumoto Chang.

“I have every confidence in the fairness and objectivity of the House’s procedures in such matters and look forward to hearing what compelling evidence these individuals will present, as well as the opportunity to respond,” Say said in a written comment Wednesday responding to the matter.

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