HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in decades, the state Senate opened the legislative session on Wednesday without a single Republican.
The body is now the only legislative body in the nation with representation from only one party. State Sen. Sam Slom, who for years was the state Senate's lone Republican, lost his seat to Democrat Stanley Chang during November's general election.
Senate President Ron Kouchi joked with reporters about Slom's absence.
"So I could say anything I wanted and I didn't have to worry about Sam popping up," Kouchi said.
"I was going to say the Senate majority, but we only have the senators," he said. "There is no a minority and we are getting used to dealing with that."
For Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott, the smaller Republican presence in state politics is no laughing matter.
"I think everyone in the building would agree that we need a healthy two-party system. The loyal opposition has a role and that's to make sure the majority is better," said McDermott (Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point).
Last session, McDermott made headlines after swearing at his fellow Republicans when they didn't give him more time for a speech. He now says the six Republicans in the state House are united.
"We had some differences, but we patched them up. We had the family fight and now we are all back together," he said.
McDermott said that one issue that unites the Republicans is opposition to a proposed aid in dying measure.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto believes Hawaii Republicans in general have got to change.
"It's been a long time since we've had one chamber with a single party controlling it so hopefully that sends message to republicans that want us to the loyal opposition who don't want to change anything that it's not working," said Fukumoto, a Republican whose district include Mililani and Waipio Acres.