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Thursday, July 20, 2000

Senate-term inequity
fuels pressure for
special session

By Richard Borreca


Support is increasing for a legislative special session to amend the state Constitution to even out Senate terms shortened by reapportionment.

The obscure provision now would permit some incumbent senators to have a longer term in office than challengers would get.

But there still is no agreement among legislators on how to fix the flawed amendment.

Yesterday, Senate President Norman Mizuguchi announced that a majority of the senators wanted to take up the issue but said that a simple indication of support was not enough.

"If these senators do indeed wish to call a special session to correct the problem, the Constitution requires a written request by the members of each house," Mizuguchi said.

Legislative leaders worry that a special session, which would have to run a minimum of 11 days, would be too costly.

Besides, they say, legislative lawyers argue that the matter can be handled by the 2001 Legislature, next year.

House Speaker Calvin Say added that a majority of the representatives want a special session because 24 of the county's neighborhood boards have requested it.

"I think a majority of the Oahu members want it; they don't to offend the 20 or so neighborhood boards who want it," he said.

Mizuguchi and Say said the amendment must be agreed to by the Legislature before the session is called.

"We want an agreement on the final language of the proposed amendment before asking for the members to support a special session," Say said.

"To keep session costs to a minimum, the amendment must be in final form from the first day," Mizuguchi said.

Both leaders had previously tried to avoid the special session, noting that legislative attorneys said the matter could be taken up next year.

Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday urged the Legislature to wait until next year, saying people will decide to run for office for other reason besides whether or not they are going to get a two- or four-year term.

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