House reorganizes just a day before special session on rail

House reorganizes just a day before special session on rail

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just one day before lawmakers were set to hold a special session on bailing out Honolulu's beleaguered rail project, there was a big shakeup in the state House of Representatives.

State Reps. James Tokioka and Isaac Choy, two members of the House Finance Committee, were abruptly removed from their posts on Sunday.

Though Vice Speaker Della Au Belatti said the reorganization was not about the rail project, Tokioka and Choy have been critics of the deal that was pitched to fund the project.

Senate Bill 4 would raise the existing half-percent general excise tax surcharge on Oahu for three additional years through 2030 and would also raise the statewide hotel room tax, or TAT, 1 percent for the next 13 years.

Belatti said the changes were actually part of a larger reorganization based on Rep. Scott Saiki becoming House speaker.

Tokioka and Choy are being replaced by Reps. Sam Kong and Beth Fukumoto, who both support Saiki.

Fukumoto recently switched parties to become a Democrat, and Belatti said she needed positions in the Democratic caucus.

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