Keith-Agaran still vice chairman after Senate panel split

The state Senate has split the Committee on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs into two committees, with Central Maui Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran appointed as vice chairman of the Senate Tourism Committee, according to an announcement.

That committee will be chaired by Sen. Gilbert Kahele of Hilo.

During the last legislative session, Keith-Agaran was vice chairman of the Committee on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs.

With the committees’ split, he said that he decided to remain with the Tourism Committee.

“I’m looking forward to working with Big Island Senator Gil Kahele,” he said. “It’s been a while since the Tourism Committee was headed by two Neighbor Islanders, and we all realize that the challenges and attractions for the visitor industry can be very different for parts of Hawaii outside of Waikiki.”

Sen. Maile Shimabukuro of West Oahu will chair the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, with Sen. Clayton Hee of Central and Windward Oahu serving as vice chairman.

Sen. Brickwood Galuteria of Honolulu had served as majority leader and chairman of the Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. He will continue to be majority leader.