House Speaker Joe Souki has officially resigned from that post effective immediately in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s House leadership reorganization.
Souki, 84, is expected to be replaced by House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, according to House sources.
Souki, (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku), has served in the House since 1982. He served as speaker from 1993 to 1999, and then retook the top post in 2013. He also served as chairman of the powerful Finance Committee.
In a letter to his colleagues today, Souki said he did not seek the speaker’s position in 2013, but “I was asked to lead this body in order to bring all members’ voices to our deliberations. I was humbled to lead this body, and it has been an honor to serve the people of this state.”
Souki said he regretted that lawmakers were unable to reach agreement this year on a bill to provide billions of dollars in additional funding for the Honolulu rail project, and also on a bill to allow physicians to prescribe lethal medications to people with terminal illnesses.
“I regret that on these issues we were not able to do the work of the people,” Souki said. He thanked the people of Hawaii and the members of the House, “especially those who have stood with me through thick and thin.”
The House will meet at 1 p.m. today in its final scheduled session of the year.
In the Senate today, Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda gave a tearful speech to her colleagues marking her removal as chairwoman of that committee. Tokuda has said she was removed in a power play prompted by the often bitter debate over rail.
Tokuda quoted “Star Wars,” saying that “you can’t stop change anymore than you can stop the suns from setting.”
“While my time as WAM chair has clearly ended and this sun has set, I am really excited about the opportunities on the horizon and where my sun will rise next,” Tokuda said “This isn’t the end. It’s clearly just the beginning. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity, and I stand ready to serve you my colleagues and the Senate in any way I may be helpful going forward.”
The Senate then adjourned for the year.