Hanabusa takes over as Senate president
2 key committee leaders change
SEN. Colleen Hanabusa is the first female president of the state Senate.
Hanabusa, 55, an attorney and six-year legislative veteran, replaces Sen. Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa-Pupukea), 59, banker and insurance broker who led the Senate since 2000.
Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) made a name for herself in her first year in the Legislature by helping to organize the rejection of Margery Bronster as Gov. Ben Cayetano's nomination for attorney general. In 2001, she spearheaded efforts to reform the state civil service laws, an effort strongly opposed by the politically powerful public employee unions.
Hanabusa has repeatedly attempted to take over the 25-member Senate.
This year, she was successful.
"Organization has been a fluid situation," Hanabusa said yesterday at a state Capitol news conference announcing the changes.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, right, laughed as she fielded questions from reporters yesterday afternoon at the state Capitol as the Senate announced a reorganization that installed Hanabusa as president.
CALL HER MADAME PRESIDENT
A look at Colleen W. Hanabusa's career:
New position: State Senate president
Political history: Elected to Senate in 1998. Served as chairwoman of Senate Committee on Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs. Senate vice president (2001-2002), chairwoman of Senate Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee (2004-2006). Twice ran for the 2nd Congressional District unsuccessfully. Served as chairwoman of former Councilman Arnold Morgado's unsuccessful 1994 campaign for Honolulu mayor.
Work: Labor attorney in private practice. Koshiba and Young (1980-1990). Clients represented before state agencies: James Pflueger and Pflueger Properties before Department of Land and Natural Resources; Blake Kunimoto before Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Manual Mattos before Employees Retirement System.
Education: St. Andrew's Priory (1969), University of Hawaii, B.A. in economics and sociology (1973), M.A. in sociology (1975), law degree from UH William S. Richardson School of Law (1977).
Personal: 55, divorced, lives in Ko Olina.
Asked why she was able to win the presidency this time, Hanabusa said, "The fact that the three major factions got together and there was a sense that we need to have change.
"There was a philosophical common ground we share, which is one of openness and shared responsibility and shared power," she added.
In the reorganization, Sen. Brian Taniguchi, veteran Ways and Means Committee chairman, lost his position to Sen. Rosalyn Baker, and Sen. Clayton Hee was promoted from the Higher Education Committee chairmanship to lead a combined Judiciary and Labor Committee.
The changes will be important for Gov. Linda Lingle as she plans to nominate members of her Cabinet, who will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Hee's powers will also include holding hearings on any nominations Lingle makes to the state judiciary.
Yesterday, Hanabusa said she was expecting the Senate to go its own way, but didn't expect "any major problems" in working with the administration.
"If you look at many of the issues that Gov. Lingle ran on and referred to as her accomplishments, you will find they were issues developed by the Legislature," Hanabusa said.
"It depends on where they (the Lingle administration) decide to go, but I don't see any major problems. But it is clear the Senate will have its own agenda," Hanabusa said.
Asked about changes in the Senate with its first female leader, Hanabusa fired back: "Pay equity."
"It is a change that has been long and forthcoming. I hope it sends a message to all young women growing up -- anything is possible," Hanabusa said, noting that the Senate's vice president, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, and Baker at Ways and Means are women.
"I think you should credit the men of the Senate, because they have decided, you know, maybe we can lead," Hanabusa said.
Before announcing the changes, Hanabusa met privately with outgoing Senate President Bunda, who she said was supportive and offered his assistance.
Bunda was named president emeritus.
Yesterday, Bunda said: "Organization is always a challenge. It always gets personal because everyone is jockeying for position because their careers are on the line."
He pointed to the changes in the tax code that go into effect next year as "the first middle-class tax break in 40 years" as his biggest accomplishment as Senate president.
Here is the committee lineup for the 2007 state Senate:
Ways and Means: Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chairwoman; Sen. Shan Tsutsui, vice chairman.
Judiciary and Labor: Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman; Sen. Russell Kokubun, vice chairman.
Commerce, Consumer Protection and Affordable Housing: Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman; Sen. David Ige, vice chairman.
Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs: Kokubun, chairman; Sen. Jill Tokuda, vice chairwoman.
Transportation and International Affairs: Sen. J. Kalani English, chairman; Sen. Lorraine Inouye, vice chairwoman.
Human Services and Public Housing: Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, chairwoman; Sen. Les Ihara, vice chairman.
Economic Development and Taxation: Sen. Carol Fukunaga, chairwoman; Sen. Will Espero, vice chairman.
Education: Sen. Norman Sakamoto, chairman; Tokuda, vice chairwoman.
Health: Ige, chairman; Chun Oakland, vice chairwoman.
Tourism and Governmental Operations: Sen. Clarence Nishihara, chairman; Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, vice chairwoman.
Intergovernmental and Military Affairs: Inouye, chairwoman; Nishihara, vice chairman.
Public Safety: Espero, chairman.
Energy and Environment: Sen. Ron Menor, chairman.
Senate Subcommittee on Legislative Management: Mercado Kim, chairwoman.
Senate Subcommittee on Capital Improvement Projects: Tsutsui, chairman.