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All that infighting between the Chess Club, the Opihis, the Tokuda Four and the few nonaligned Hawaii state senators has finally concluded.
For now, anyway.
On Thursday the Senate released its list of committee assignments following the palace coup of Oahu’s Donna Mercado Kim last month by Ron Kouchi of Kauai.
As our Nathan Eagle, who broke the story, soon reported in a follow up piece, backers of Kim lost out in the awarding of leadership posts and committee chairs, while backers of Kouchi are now sitting high and mighty.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The committee with the most noteworthy makeup is the renamed Water, Land and Agriculture.
Mike Gabbard is chair and Clarence Nishihara is vice. The WLA committee also includes three of the more progressive-minded Democrats in the Senate — or obstructionist, as their critics might call them: Laura Thielen, Gil Riviere and Russell Ruderman.
(The three Musketeers and a fourth, Les Ihara, were the big losers in the Senate reshuffle.)
What it suggests is that important legislation and nominations that require WLA approval will face a committee with members whose ideologies — on development, on preservation, on GMO — are pretty evenly split.
Still, the edge on WLA goes to those who, for example, might well have voted to confirm Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to lead the state Land Board rather than reject him, as was set to happen last session. Gov. David Ige withdrew the nomination, realizing he didn’t have the votes.
The biggest “winner” of all in the Senate re-org? Sam Slom, who gets to sit on all 14 committees.