Senate President Donna Mercado Kim is out as Senators, voting 19-6 on SR136, approved the installation of Kauai Sen Ron Kouchi as Senate President and Sen Will Espero as Vice President.
Apparently Committee Chairs were upset at Kim's habit of participating in their Committee meetings and asking what Kim has termed "tough questions", thus infringing on the Chairs' power.
Sen Josh Green's conference committee obstruction of the marijuana bill HB321 was a contributing factor as well. After Green deadlocked the conference committee, Senators acted May 1 to remove Green and extend the committee deadline thus allowing the bill to pass out for a House and Senate floor vote.
HB321, which will cause more of the Senators' constituents to be medicated, and thus more easily manipulated, now awaits the Governor's signature.
Here are the details....
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Kim ousted as Senate president, Kouchi takes over
KHON: Sen. Donna Mercado Kim is no longer Senate president.
In a major shakeup at the State Capitol Tuesday, state Senators named Kauai Sen. Ron Kouchi the Chamber’s new chief in a 19-6 vote.
The six nos were Sens. Les Ihara Jr., Gil Riviere, Russell Ruderman, Laura Thielen, Sam Slom and Kim.
Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland voted yes with reservations.
Multiple sources at the Capitol told KHON2 at least 16 of the 25 Senators agreed to the change Monday night, and Kouchi confirmed it with KHON2 Tuesday morning.
Sen. Will Espero was voted the new Senate vice president.
read ... Kim Ousted
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Kim Ousted Because She Sat in on Committee Meetings
KITV: "I think I was true to myself. It was a struggle because I knew it might upset some people if I went into the committee and yet I just felt that was a responsibility, and why the people voted for me I didn't want to be just be a rubber stamp and not speak out for the people, " said Kim.
One of those committees Kim sat in on was Ways and Means-- It's chairwoman declined to say exactly why she threw her support behind Kouchi....
The ouster comes on the heels another extreme measure to revive the controversial marijuana bill by removing conference chair Sen. Josh Green.
"Everything is related in the Senate. There's a cause and action. It's a domino effect-- people start thinking about different things.
Everything is intertwined," said majority leader Sen. Kalani English.
read ... Committee Chairs Reassert Control
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Anti-GMO Crowd Ousted in Senate Shakeup
KauaiEclectic May 7, 2015: In yet another indication that Hawaii progressives have suffered under the influence of the anti-GMO movement, Kauai Sen. Ron Kouchi assumed presidency of the state Senate just two days before the session is set to end.
Those who voted against a resolution replacing Donna Mercado-Kim with Kouchi — Sens. Les Ihara, Gil Riviere, Russell Ruderman, Sam Slom and Laura Thielen — were among the most active in seeking to control the biotech industry and defeat Carleton Ching's nomination to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
As a result, Ruderman is likely to lose chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee to Clarence Nishihara, who supports biotech and general ag. Thielen is also expected to be ousted as chair of the powerful Water and Land Committee, while anti-GMO advocate Josh Green will lose control of the Health Committee.
In an interesting twist of fate, Kouchi replaced Gary Hooser when he quit the Senate to make an ill-fated run for Lieutenant Governor. Now Kouchi, a 22-year veteran of the Kauai County Council, is the powerful Senate president while Hooser is attempting to advance the anti-GMO movement from his position as last-place Council member.
read ... Musings: Interesting Twists
NOTE: Since the Shakeup is tied to the passage of marijuana legislation which Green had obstructed, we now have the answer to a question that has been bothering us for a long time: Marijuana is a GMO, so will they quit smoking or protesting? With this shakeup, the Senate has effectively chosen to keep the marijuana and quit the anti-GMO protests. Conscious or not, an end to hypocrisy is noted.
2013: How to Use Anti-GMO Ordinances to Seize Marijuana Plants: A Guide for Police Departments
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Kouchi 'More Friendly to Development'
KGI: Many viewed the Ching nomination as a battle between environmentalists and developers, and the Senate faction Kouchi is a part of — called the Opihi group, named for the resilient sea creature — is considered more friendly to development.
read ... Sen. Ron Kouchi vows to represent Garden Isle issues in new role as Senate president
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Winners and Losers in Senate Shakeup
SA: Moments after the vote, Slom alluded to his colleagues getting their "feathers ruffled" under Kim's leadership for her "dogged determination to ask questions in committee."
Some lawmakers said privately there were bitter feelings about Kim's supposed penchant for micromanaging the affairs of Senate committees.
"What president goes into committees and starts chastising committee chairs?" asked one lawmaker.
Committee chairmen and chairwomen in the Senate are accustomed to wielding power independently, and senators contended Kim interfered in matters that committee heads felt were issues for them to decide....
Most of the other top power positions in the Senate likely will remain the same, according to a senator who asked not to be identified....
Sen. Jill Tokuda, who is being described as an architect of the shake-up, will remain chairwoman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee, while Senate Judiciary and Labor Chairman Gil Keith-Agaran (D, Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului) is expected to retain his post.
In addition, Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Chairwoman Rosalyn Baker (D, West Maui-South Maui) is expected to continue in that position....
Lawmakers who are immediately losing influence as a result of the shake-up are Senate Health Chairman Josh Green and Agriculture Chairman Russell Ruderman. Also at risk is Water and Land Chairwoman Laura Thielen (D, Hawaii Kai-Waimanalo-Kailua).
Those three lawmakers were not part of the initial reorganization push, which means they are vulnerable to being removed in favor of other lawmakers who assisted with the effort early on, according to senators who asked not to be identified.
Green (D, Kona-Kau) said in a written statement that he will not continue as Health Committee chairman, but "I have been asked to serve as part of President Kouchi's leadership team" as floor leader for the Senate Democrats. Green said he will remain on the Health Committee as vice chairman.
Ruderman (D, Puna) will be removed as Agriculture Committee chairman, and Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D, Waipahu-Pearl City) said he expects to take control of the committee. That development might cause alarm in some circles because Nishihara has been skeptical of proposals to ban or label genetically modified products, issues that likely would be referred to that committee.
Perhaps the biggest individual winner in the shake-up apart from Kouchi will be Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Wahiawa-Whitmore-Mililani Mauka), who is expected to assume Kouchi's previous position in control of all Senate appropriations for state construction spending....
read ... Ruffle
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HNN May 5, 2015: She acknowledged that she may have upset some committee chairs by going into their meetings and asking tough questions.
KITV May 5, 2015: Lines between factions dubbed as the "Chess Club" and the "Opihi Gang," blurred....
CB May 5, 2015: James Aki was the last Senate president to be ousted, back in 1994. Ethics questions over his ties to a developer were at the root of it. He later got in trouble for gambling....
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Josh Green: Marijuana vs Oxycontin