Maui County lawmakers secure committee leadership positions

The majority of Maui County’s state House representatives will hold a committee chairman or a vice-chairman position in this year’s Legislative session, which convenes today.

In an announcement Tuesday, Joe Souki of Wailuku, who appears to have enough votes to become speaker, detailed the state House leadership positions and the committee chairman and vice-chairman assignments for the 2013 session.

The state Senate quickly organized after the November elections and made a couple of changes along the way. It organized its leadership quickly and weathered Shan Tsutsui’s move from state Senate president to lieutenant governor almost seamlessly.

The state House took longer to organize while Souki and former Speaker Calvin Say battled for votes, with Souki apparently winning out. The Maui lawmaker even prevailed in a subsequent challenge by Say’s chosen successor, Oahu state House member Marcus Oshiro.

Both the state Senate and the state House will hold their opening day festivities and officially confirm leadership positions at 10 a.m. today at the State Capitol on Oahu.

In Maui County, viewers may watch the state House opening beginning at 9:45 a.m. on Akaku:

Maui Community Television, cable Channel 53. The state Senate opening will be tape delayed and shown on Channel 53 at noon.

Souki, who represents residents of Wailuku, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala and Waikapu, is expected to be officially elected state House speaker today.

Souki didn’t want to be called speaker Tuesday but did say he finally moved into the speaker’s office in the afternoon before opening day.

He added that things were “in flux” at the state Capitol on Tuesday because legislators were busy preparing for today.

Souki’s announcement detailed the state House leadership positions, with two Maui legislators holding committee chairmanships and two others holding vice chairmanships.

* Rep. Angus McKelvey, whose state House District 10 includes West Maui, Maalaea and north Kihei, will chair the Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce.

* Freshman Rep. Kaniela Ing, whose state House District 11 covers Kihei, Wailea and Makena, will be vice chairman of the Committee on Public Safety.

* Rep. Mele Carroll, whose state House District 13 includes Haiku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lanai and Molokai, will chair the Committee on Human Services.

* Newly appointed Rep. Justin Woodson, whose state House District 9 covers Kahului, Puunene, Maui Lani and old Sand Hills, will be vice chairman of the Committee on Housing.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Woodson to the Central Maui seat on Tuesday. He replaces Gil Keith-Agaran, who was appointed last week to the Central Maui Senate seat earlier held by Tsutsui.

The only Maui representative without a chairmanship or vice chairmanship is Rep. Kyle Yamashita, whose state House District 12 seat covers Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua and Kahului.

Souki said that Yamashita would retain his position in managing the capital improvement project budget on the Finance Committee.

That’s “a very important job for Maui,” he said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at