Souki resigns as House speaker (updated 1:57 p.m.)

Wailuku state Rep. Joe Souki resigned Thursday as speaker of the House of Representatives, a position he’s held since 2013.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, who previously served as Senate president, called the loss of Souki as speaker “a tremendous loss of political influence for the people of Maui County.”

Souki also served as speaker from 1993 to 1999 and was speaker emeritus from 2000 to 2013.

“Five years ago, I did not seek this position, but I was asked to lead this body in order to bring all members’ voices to our deliberations,” Souki said in a letter to House members. “I hope that to some extent I was able to do that. I was humbled to lead this body, and it has been an honor to serve the people of this state.”

There was no immediate official word on who will replace him, but the Honolulu Civil Beat reports that Rep. Scott Saiki of urban Honolulu would likely be the new speaker.

In a statement, Tsutsui said Souki’s resignation was the “result of a political power play.”

“Unfortunately, this is the world of politics,” he said.

Tsutsui commended Souki for being “a great leader and for continuing to serve with dignity and great respect during this difficult time.”

A resolution to replace Souki with Saiki was expected to be considered during Thursday’s final House floor session.

In his letter, Souki acknowledged he had some disappointments this session, including lawmakers’ failure to pass a compassionate aid in dying bill and legal immunity for lifeguards.

“With the dynamics in this Legislature, we were also unable to agree with the Senate on funding to complete Honolulu’s rail system. I regret that on these issues we were not able to do the work of the people.”

Souki thanked members of the House, “especially those who have stood with me through thick and thin.”

And, he thanked the people of Maui, “who I will continue to serve with the same dedication and compassion that I have always given for all these years.”