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Keith-Agaran to be vice chair of Ways and Means

Sen. Roz Baker will continue to lead Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health

Gil Keith-Agaran

The Maui News

Central Maui state Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran has been named as vice chairman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee, which works with the House Finance Committee and governor’s administration to handle the state’s purse strings.

As vice chairman, Keith-Agaran will be in charge of managing capital improvement projects — the same management position held by Upcountry Rep. Kyle Yamashita on the Finance Committee.

Keith-Agaran will no longer chair the Judiciary and Labor Committee, which was split in two under the Senate’s reorganization.

Keith-Agaran’s new position on the Senate money committee should be “good for Maui County,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be good for everybody.”

Keith-Agaran said he’ll also serve on the Judiciary, Housing and Higher Education committees.

Central Oahu Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz was elevated from vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to chairman in a Senate leadership shakeup that saw Sen. Jill Tokuda ousted as Ways and Means chairwoman last week when lawmakers in the House and Senate could not agree to a funding plan for the Honolulu mass transit rail project.

Now, Tokuda will chair the Senate Labor Committee.

Urban Honolulu Sen. Brian Taniguchi will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Hilo Sen. Kaiali’i Kahele is the new majority whip. Sen. J. Kalani English remains as Senate majority leader. English represents East Maui, Upcountry, Molokai and Lanai.

Other Senate committee leadership positions remain unchanged, according to an official in Senate President Ronald Kouchi’s office.

West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health.