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Kaua‘i legislators will lead at the statehouse this year

LIHU‘E — For a small island, Kaua‘i will hold a large degree of influence over the state Legislature this session.

In the Senate, Ron
Kouchi (District 8, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau) will continue in the top role as president, a position he has held since 2015.

Meanwhile, in the House, two Kaua‘i legislators will hold key leadership positions — with Nadine K. Nakamura (District 15, which includes the North Shore and Kapa‘a) assuming a new role as majority leader, and Daynette “Dee” Morikawa (District 17, which includes the westside and South Shore) continuing as majority floor leader.

In her new role, Nakamura heads the Majority Caucus, comprised of 45 Hawai‘i House Democrats.

“I’m grateful to Speaker Scott K. Saiki and my Democratic colleagues for giving me the opportunity to lead the Majority Caucus,” said Nakamura. “We will work hard to build more affordable housing, provide financial relief to working families, provide mental health resources, and protect our natural environment to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

Last year, Nakamura served as chair of the Housing Committee.

Morikawa has been the House majority floor leader since 2018, where she is responsible for organizing and overseeing activities on the floor.

“It is a role that I am honored to be assigned to by Speaker Scott K. Saiki, and I will do my very best to serve with integrity and uphold my commitment to address Hawai‘i’s important issues,” said Morikawa. “Our leadership team will help guide our priority initiatives through this legislative session.”

Nakamura and Morikawa will serve on the House Committee on Legislative Management as chair and vice chair, respectively. This committee deals with administrative operations and legislative services of the House, including the Legislative Reference Bureau, Legislative Auditor, Office of the Ombudsman, Public Access Room and Hawai‘i State General Plan.

The other Kaua‘i House seat is currently vacant after longtime Rep. Jimmy Tokioka resigned to join Gov. Josh Green’s administration as state Department of Transportation Airports Division deputy director earlier this month. The Democratic District 16 Council will now choose three possible replacements and Green will pick between them.

Kaua‘i County Council Member Luke Evslin and Kaua‘i Police Department Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce have both said they are seeking the role, while former county council Vice Chair Mason Chock said he will submit an application but is still uncertain if he would be able to accept the position.

Former county council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, a possible contender for the role, told The Garden Island that he would not be seeking the position.

“It is just not the right time for me,” Kaneshiro said.

“I want to be on Kaua‘i and close to my kids.”

The state Legislature is set to convene on Wednesday.


Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or
Source: The Garden Island

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