Dela Cruz named new chair of powerful Senate committee

Updated: May. 12, 2017 at 1:13 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just more than a week after State Senator Jill Tokuda was ousted as chair of the Senate's Ways and Means committee, Hawaii Senate leaders have chosen Donovan Dela Cruz as her replacement.

The decision was announced Friday by Senate President Ronald Kouchi.

Tokuda's ouster was a political casualty in the legislative battle over rail funding. Her funding proposal for rail – one that involved raising the transient accomodations tax instead of extending the GET surcharge – was rejected by a majority of senators last week.

State Senator Gil Keith-Agaran will serve as the committee's vice chair.

Other changes in leadership include the naming of Senator Kaiali'i Kahele to serve as Majority Whip and Senator Brian Taniguchi as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Tokuda has been named chair of the Senate Labor committee.

The State House, meanwhile, still has leadership issues of its own to resolve; Rep. Joe Souki resigned as Speaker of the House last week, and a full-time replacement has not yet been named.

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