HONOLULU – Hawaii Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim (District 14) has been selected as the president of the Senate and will preside during the 27th Hawaii State Legislature, which will convene on Jan. 16.
The Senate acted quickly to organize after the immediate past Senate president, Maui State Sen. Shan Tsutsui, took the oath of office as lieutenant governor on Dec. 27. He replaces Brian Schatz, who was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the U.S. Senate.
Schatz replaces Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died on Dec. 17. The Hawaii Democratic Party’s State Central Committee interviewed more than a dozen applicants for the vacant Senate seat and narrowed the field to Schatz, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, and State Department of Land and Natural Resources Deputy Director Esther Kiaaina. In a message from his deathbed, Inouye had asked Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa.
Other candidates included Kim, Sen. Will Espero, former State Rep. Blake Oshiro, former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, and Congressmember-elect Tulsi Gabbard.
Hawaii’s congressional delegation will consist of Hanabusa and Gabbard in the House, Schatz and former Rep. Mazie Hirono in the Senate. Hirono succeeds Sen. Daniel Akaka, who retired.
In the State Legislature, Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi will serve as Senate vice president. Sen. David Ige will continue as chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, with Sen. Michelle Kidani serving as his vice chair.
The Senate line-up remains mostly intact to allow members continuity in their committee work as the Senate has been preparing for the upcoming session.
“We are solidified in dealing with the pressing issues facing our state,” said Kim. “The Senate continues to be organized in a cooperative and focused manner. I’m humbled to receive the confidence and support of my colleagues.”
“We reached an agreement quickly so that we can continue to focus our attention on the issues and begin preparations for the 2013 session,” said Kouchi.
A complete listing of Senate leadership and committee chairmanships is as follows.
President: Donna Mercado Kim
Vice President: Ronald D. Kouchi
Majority Leader: Brickwood Galuteria
Assistant Majority Leader: Michelle Kidani
Ways and Means, Chair: David Ige
Ways and Means, Vice Chair: Michelle Kidani
Majority Floor Leader: Will Espero
Majority Policy Leader: Les Ihara, Jr.
Majority Whip: Gil Kahele
Majority Whip: Jill Tokuda
Judiciary and Labor, Chair: Clayton Hee
Commerce and Consumer Protection, Chair: Roz Baker
Agriculture, Chair: Clarence Nishihara
Technology and The Arts, Chair: Glenn Wakai
Economic Development, Government Operations, and Housing, Chair: Donovan Dela Cruz
Energy and Environment, Chair: Mike Gabbard
Education, Chair: Jill Tokuda
Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs, Chair: Brickwood Galuteria
Health, Chair: Josh Green, M.D.
Higher Education, Chair: Brian Taniguchi
Human Services, Chair: Suzanne Chun Oakland
Public Safety and Military Affairs, Chair: Will Espero
Transportation & International Affairs, Chair: J. Kalani English
Water and Land, Chair: Malama Solomon
About Donna Mercado Kim
Kim currently serves as chair of the Committee on Tourism and Government Operations and the Committee on Accountability and as a member of the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Higher Education.
She chaired the Task Force on Reinventing Government, which searched for ways to eliminate government waste and save money without cutting core services. With the state facing tough economic times, Kim has focused on issues such as fiscal accountability by examining mismanagement practices, contracting procedures, and wasteful spending
Kim represents Hawaii’s 14th Senatorial District and has served in the State Senate since 2000. She served on the Honolulu City Council from 1984 to 2000 and represented Moanalua, Aiea, and Kalihi communities as a state representative from 1982 to 1984.
Kim is a graduate of Farrington High School, attended the University of Hawaii, and received a B.A. from Washington State University.