Republicans help Souki oust House Speaker Say

Republicans help Souki oust House Speaker Say
Published: Nov. 21, 2012 at 7:53 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Rep. Joe Souki announced on Wednesday that he has the votes to topple House Speaker Calvin Say. Say has held the position for 13 years, but now Souki wants that title back. Souki, the former speaker from 1993 to 1998, has the backing of dissident Democrats and seven House Republicans.

"In the spirit of bipartisanship and looking at the needs of the state, we felt that we needed to get to work sooner rather than later, forming the committees and etc," said Souki.

Souki said he has 28 votes, which is two more than the 26 needed to take control of the 51-member House. In exchange for their support, the Republicans will receive the vice chairmanships of three committees: Finance, Energy and Economic Development, he said.

"I think this is historic and I think this shows Speaker Souki's willingness really to view all 51 members of the House as part of the House of Representatives," said House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson.

Souki is a long-time proponent of legalizing gambling in Hawaii. As far as the general excise tax, he said he would not push for an increase. He also supports a controversial traffic safety plan.

"I would like to have a camera for red lights and for speeding, and I would like the police to be the ones to manage that and also retain the revenue," said Souki.

Governor Abercrombie said his administration will work with the person in charge, whatever the outcome.

"Speaker Souki is an old, old friend going all the way back to my legislative days. Speaker Say was a former student of mine, so our friendships and our relationships go back decades," said Abercrombie.

Rep. Say's office declined to comment. Say is the longest-serving House Speaker since statehood.

Nothing is official until lawmakers take a vote on the opening day of the legislature in January.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.