Maui Could Head Both Chambers, Souki Speculation Surfaces
By Wendy Osher
Reports have circulated that Representative Joe Souki of Maui may have the bipartisan votes necessary to be elected the new House Speaker for Hawai’i.
The speculation was first published in the Civil Beat blog on Tuesday, indicating that Speaker Emeritus Souki of Wailuku had formed a 28-vote coalition to take control of the Hawaii State House leadership.
If the House organization plays out as stated, Maui leaders would be at the helm of both chambers of the state Legislature.
Maui State Senator Shan S. Tsutsui was once again selected as the president of the Senate earlier this month. The Senate leadership was quickly determined just two days after the Nov. 6, 2012, general election.
In response to the reported speculation concerning the House re-organization, leaders of the Sierra Club expressed excitement saying an early commitment to bipartisanship is a positive step that will result in greater transparency and more balanced decision-making.
Sierra Club Director Robert D. Harris said the group has been disappointed over the past few years with decisions relating to Hawai’i’s environment, including the passage of the Public Lands Development Corporation.
“New leadership offers the opportunity to start with a clean slate,” said Harris.
“We challenge the new House leadership to move forward with important initiatives like ensuring the Department of Land and Natural Resources receives the necessary funding to protect our watersheds, resolving the controversy about Hawaii’s renewable energy tax credit that is slowing down our solar industry, and repealing the Public Lands Development Corporation,” Harris said in a statement today as he challenged leaders to work towards what he called a “green agenda.”
There has been no official word from the State House, which continues to list Calvin Say as Speaker of the House. The 27th Hawaii State Legislature convenes on Jan. 16, 2013.