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Monday, June 28, 1999



Hawaii State Seal

Special session
to revive controversy

The Senate may have to vote
on replacements for Anzai and Bronster

By Mike Yuen
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

There will be one unintended consequence if the Legislature goes into a special session: reminding the electorate of the Senate's refusal to confirm Margery Bronster as attorney general and Earl Anzai as budget director.

The ouster of Bronster and Anzai will come back into focus because the Senate, the only chamber with confirmation power, is required under the state Constitution to consider gubernatorial appointees at its first opportunity.

So while both the House and the Senate may be correcting flawed bills, the Senate would be considering at least one executive appointment.

It would be of Anzai's replacement, Neal Miyahira, who assumed his interim post late last month, three weeks after the Senate voted 15-10 to reject Anzai and 14-11 to dump Bronster.

It's unclear if Cayetano, who could not be reached for comment Friday, will have an attorney general-select by early August, which now seems to be the earliest when a special session could be held. Cayetano has acknowledged that he has had trouble finding a replacement for Bronster. Bronster's first deputy, Rick Keller, is filling in as acting attorney general.

Miyahira, 47, spent four years as Anzai's deputy and most recently was deputy tax director.

Asked if his nomination might be affected by any fallout from the Senate's rejection of his former boss and Bronster, Miyahira said: "I have no idea. I made some courtesy calls (with senators), but I have no idea.

"I'm going to approach this positively."

The major difference between Miyahira and Anzai is style. Miyahira has been more diplomatic than Anzai when testifying before legislative panels.

Anzai, however, developed a reputation for being brutally frank, unafraid to speak his mind, even if it meant appearing to be abrasive to lawmakers. One senator once confided to the Star-Bulletin that several of his colleagues thought that Anzai wasn't sufficiently deferential.

Sens. Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) and Andrew Levin (D, Volcano), the co-chairpersons of the Ways and Means Committee, which would conduct a hearing on Miyahira's nomination and make a recommendation to the full Senate, were in a closed-door meeting Friday and were unavailable for comment.

Fukunaga voted against Anzai and Bronster. Levin backed them.

Fukunaga has suggested that Anzai kept lawmakers from getting an accurate picture of how the state was spending tax dollars and that Cayetano was ignoring legislative directives on how state funds should be spent.

No one rose on the Senate floor to speak on Anzai's behalf.

House Speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) said he never had any problems with Anzai. When he was Finance Committee chairman, Say said, it wasn't unusual for Anzai to rush over to his office with supporting documents to answer questions he might have raised.

Isle residents were outraged with the Senate's rejection of Anzai and Bronster because both were seen as willing to challenge the status quo and entrenched interests -- Anzai for his willingness to consider layoffs of public workers and for saying that state labor costs were soaring out of control, Bronster for aggressively investigating the powerful Bishop Estate.

Friday, the House's Say and Senate President Norman Mizuguchi (D, Aiea) met to discuss what bills might be addressed during a special session.

Say said he was firm in stating that he didn't want the agenda to go beyond fixing the bills for hotel industry tax incentives and for paying Washington $2.1 million for refunds from the Hawaii Public Employees Health Fund to avoid $200,000 to $300,000 in interest payments.

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