February 1, 2009

Dissident Democrats seek to clean House

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 1:23 pm

I haven’t even touched the Senate Bills, but I did survey the list of bills introduced in the House. Many of the bills will never even be heard in committee, and most of them will never become law, but it’s still a fun list to browse—if you’re wonky.

Anyway, I thought I’d point out HB 186 which was introduced by Representative Saiki. It proposes a Constitutional Amendment to limit legislators’ terms to 20 years in the House and 20 years in the Senate. Saiki won his House seat in 1994. Saiki and other dissident House democrats have tried several times in recent years to unseat Speaker Say (first elected in 1976). Representative Chris Lee (a true freshman) would appear to have joined Saiki among the dissident Democrats, since he was not “awarded” (read “burdened with”) the typical vice-chairmanship of a committee that is foisted upon junior legislators who support the Speaker. Chris Lee introduced HB 973, a bill substantially the same as Saiki’s.

Not to be outdone, however, and still smarting from the defeat of the ConCon ballot question in November, Representative Belatti (elected in 2006) introduced HB 364 which proposes to amend the Hawaii Constitution to limit legislators to only 12 years in each chamber. Unsurprisingly, Saiki did not sign on as an introducer of Belatti’s bill, haha.

So, in the unlikely event that either of these measures were heard, passed and ratified, there would indeed be significant turnover in the Lege. Reps Chang, Marumoto, (Speaker) Say, (Speaker Emeritus) Souki and Thielen would be term-limited out in 2010 if a 20 year limit were ratified. (No Senators would fall to a 20 year limit.) In addition to the aforementioned old-timers, Reps Herkes, Ito, Marilyn Lee, Luke, Morita, Marcus Oshiro, Saiki, Takai, Takumi and Ward would be pau in 2010 should a 12 year limit be ratified. Senators Baker, Bunda, Chun Oakland, Fukunaga, Ige, Ihara, Sakamoto, and Slom would be gone, too.

The implications for internal leadership struggles, and the likely churning among term-limited members seeking a spot in the opposite chamber would be fascinating.

Don’t hold your breath, though.

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