Senate leadership will stay much the same for the next two years, but there are some key changes in committee assignments announced just days after the general election.

Senate President Ron Kouchi and Vice President Michelle Kidani will retain their posts as the chamber’s leaders, as will most of the committee chairs in the Senate. Sen. Kurt Fevella, the only Republican, also retained his spot as minority leader.

There are a few notable changes, however.

“We are confident that these new committee assignments are reflective of our practice of making the best use of our members’ skills and experiences,” Sen. J. Kalani English said in a statement.

Legislature 2020 opening day Senate press conference with Senate President Kouchi and Majority Leader J Kalani English.
The Senate has announced new committee assignments ahead of the 2021 session that starts in January. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

There’s no more Technology Committee, but there will be a Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole. Health used to be a part of what is now the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, which will still be chaired by Sen. Roz Baker.

Baker will also serve as vice chair on the Health Committee.

Keohokalole was a member of the Senate’s special COVID-19 Committee, which often dug into government plans for dealing with the pandemic. Recovering from and finding ways to deal with the ongoing pandemic will likely be one focus of the next legislative session which begins in January.

New Sens. Chris Lee and Joy San Buenaventura have also found themselves in charge of committees. Lee will chair the Transportation committee, and San Buenaventura will chair the Human Services Committee, which covers similar subject matter to her former post in the House.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who previously chaired the Transportation Committee, will instead lead the Water and Land Committee.

Chairs of the Senate’s committees, who will likely hold their positions for the next two years, hold great influence in the chamber. They can decide which bills die by not giving them a hearing or refusing to advance legislation — a power that can also be used as leverage over their colleagues.

Chairs can also advance their own proposals, especially those that must pass through their own committees.

Here’s a full list of committee assignments below. One caveat: Congressman-elect Kai Kahele is still assigned to four committees. The process to fill his seat will start once the former Hilo senator resigns, according to a press release.

Agriculture and Environment (AEN)

Gabbard, Mike (Chair)

Nishihara, Clarence (Vice Chair)

Kahele, Kaialiʻi **

Rhoads, Karl

Fevella, Kurt

Commerce and Consumer Protection (CPN)

Baker, Rosalyn H. (Chair)

Chang, Stanley (Vice Chair)

Misalucha, Bennette

Nishihara, Clarence

Riviere, Gil

San Buenaventura, Joy

Fevella, Kurt

Education (EDU)

Kidani, Michelle N. (Chair)

Kim, Donna Mercado (Vice Chair)

Dela Cruz, Donovan

Kanuha, Dru Mamo

Fevella, Kurt

Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism (EET)

Wakai, Glenn (Chair)

Misalucha, Bennette (Vice Chair)

Lee, Chris

Riviere, Gil

Fevella, Kurt

Government Operations (GVO)

Moriwaki, Sharon Y. (Chair)

Taniguchi, Brian T. (Vice Chair)

Chang, Stanley

Gabbard, Mike

Fevella, Kurt

Hawaiian Affairs (HWN)

Shimabukuro, Maile S. L. (Chair)

Kahele, Kaialiʻi ** (Vice Chair)

Ihara, Jr., Les

Keohokalole, Jarrett

Fevella, Kurt

Health (HTH)

Keohokalole, Jarrett (Chair)

Baker, Rosalyn (Vice Chair)

Moriwaki, Sharon Y.

San Buenaventura, Joy

Fevella, Kurt

 

Housing (HOU)

Chang, Stanley (Chair)

Kanuha, Dru Mamo (Vice Chair)

Moriwaki, Sharon Y.

Rhoads, Karl

Fevella, Kurt

Higher Education (HRE)

Kim, Donna Mercado (Chair)

Kidani, Michelle N. (Vice Chair)

Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S. C.

Wakai, Glenn

Fevella, Kurt

Human Services (HMS)

San Buenaventura, Joy (Chair)

Ihara, Jr., Les (Vice Chair)

Kahele, Kaialiʻi **

Misalucha, Bennette

Fevella, Kurt

Judiciary (JDC)

Rhoads, Karl (Chair)

Keohokalole, Jarrett (Vice Chair)

Gabbard, Mike

Kahele, Kaialiʻi **

Kim, Donna Mercado

Lee, Chris

Fevella, Kurt

Labor, Culture and Arts (LCA)

Taniguchi, Brian T. (Chair)

Ihara, Jr., Les (Vice Chair)

Chang, Stanley

Keohokalole, Jarrett

Fevella, Kurt

Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs (PSM)

Nishihara, Clarence K. (Chair)

English, J. Kalani (Vice Chair)

Baker, Rosalyn H.

Riviere, Gil

Fevella, Kurt

 

Transportation (TRS)

Lee, Chris (Chair)

Inouye, Lorraine R. (Vice Chair)

English, J. Kalani

Shimabukuro, Maile S. L.

Fevella, Kurt

Water and Land (WTL)

Inouye, Lorraine R. (Chair)

Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S.C. (Vice Chair)

Misalucha, Bennette

Riviere, Gil

Fevella, Kurt

Ways and Means (WAM)

Dela Cruz, Donovan M. (Chair)

Keith-Agaran, Gilbert S.C. (Vice Chair)

English, J. Kalani

Inouye, Lorraine R.

Kanuha, Dru Mamo

Kidani, Michelle N.

Moriwaki, Sharon Y.

Shimabukuro, Maile S. L.

Taniguchi, Brian T.

Wakai, Glenn

Fevella, Kurt

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