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Final day of legislative session punctuated by a flurry of departures and retirements

There were lots of tears, tissues, emotional speeches, lei and hugs.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 5:34 PM HST|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 5:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ten state representatives and three state senators are leaving the state Legislature. Some are retiring while others are seeking higher office.

As lawmakers said aloha to their colleagues Thursday, on the last day of the legislative session, there were lots of tears and hugs.

The most powerful woman in the House ― Finance Chair Sylvia Luke ― is leaving after 24 years to run for lieutenant governor.

“I’m thankful for our revenues because we were able to pass monumental legislation that will impact the lives of so many people for many years to come,” said Luke, through tears.

State Rep. Patrick Branco announced his run for the 2nd Congressional District Thursday as U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is expected to announce a run for governor on Saturday.

“There was an aunty in Maui who came up to me and was like, finally, new blood, but new blood with experience,” Branco told Hawaii News Now.

On the GOP side, state Rep. Bob McDermott is running for U.S. Senate and Rep. Val Okimoto is running for City Council.

That’s means for now, House Republicans are going from four to two members.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this side of the aisle is going to lose 50% of its numbers. It’s a big percentage,” said State Rep. Gene Ward, (R-Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley).

One representative from South Maui used her goodbye speech to talk about what she called “serious consequences facing women without Roe v. Wade.”

“Pro-life means supporting Becky who found out that her 20 week scan and the baby she was so excited to bring into this world developed without life sustaining organs,” said State Rep. Tina Wildberger (D-South Maui).

Longtime senators Clarence Nishihara, Brian Taniguchi and Roz Baker are retiring.

“We’ll come out with a good product for the people, that’s the only reason we are here,” said Baker.

All lawmakers must run for re-election this year because the district maps were redrawn, which happens every 10 years.

Senate President Ron Kouchi says major change has happened before and he’s confident momentum on the issues will continue.

“Everybody who runs, runs because they want a better Hawaii so I’m confident that the new people who get elected will work with us to get the job done,” he said.

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