by Andrew Walden
Watch the Senate committee system falling apart.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrats finally found something even more deserving of their obsequience than a Committee Chair—anti-GMO lunatics. The result was an almost-unheard-of rejection of a committee chair's procedural move when the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 3-3 to reject committee Chair Clarence Nishihara’s motion to insert Right-to-Farm language into SB110 to clear procedural hurdles and keep the effort to protect agriculture alive. Voting Yes were Nishihara, Slom and DelaCruz. Voting No: English, L. Thielen, and Kouchi. Wakai, presumed to support Nishihara, was absent.
The effort is underway to throw out the Inouye-allied old-boys in favor of what the Washington Post has recently described as a "whiter progressive wing that is trying to become Hawaii’s new ruling class." In case the racial undertones are not clear enough, in a blog post Wednesday, Progressive Democrat activist Larry Geller compares the Committee Chair system to a Japanese Shogunate. The House dumped its committee chair system last year when Speaker Calvin Say was ousted by “dissidents” united behind the new Speaker Joe Souki.
From the video of Senate floor ‘announcements’ below, here are reactions to the vote from two leading advocates of the Committee Chair system and a response from Senate President Donna Mercado Kim:
"When I first got here 10 years ago, there were two things I was told: And one was keeping your word, and (the other was) the courtesy of letting the chair know if you decide you can't vote with him. And those two I've always stayed with." – Sen Clarence Nishihara
"This is about the procedure, not the bill. So if this chamber starts on its way of undercutting the chair's authority, so be it. Let us give notice to each other at this time. We give notice we cut you at the knees -- procedurally. That's the argument before this chamber, not the merits of the discussion." – Sen Clayton Hee
"At the end of the day, every member has the right to exercise their right to vote, whether it's procedural or whether it's on the merit of the bill." – Senate President Donna Mercado Kim