Hawaii Senate Chairs Excel In Passing Own Bills

Katherine Poythress/Civil Beat

The Senate president, vice president and majority leader — all Democrats — are the top positions in the Senate.

But a Civil Beat analysis of the 2011 Legislature found that committee chairs may have more direct influence on whether legislation lives or dies.

In the 2011 session, six Senate committee chairs led the way in getting their own bills passed — that is, bills in which they were the chief sponsor:

• Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee Chair Roz Baker (13 bills passed).

• Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs Chair Will Espero (10 bills).

• Judiciary and Labor Chair Clayton Hee (9 bills).

• Education Chair Jill Tokuda (8 bills).

• Water, Land and Housing Chair Donovan Dela Cruz (7 bills).

• Human Services Chair Suzanne Chun Oakland (7 bills).

Combined, that adds up to 54 bills, almost half of the 122 Senate bills approved and sent to the governor's desk.

Civil Beat analyzed all 3,224 bills introduced this year in the House and Senate, determined how many had passed and who deserves credit as chief sponsor for those 252 bills.

The analysis found that no Republican bills passed.

It also found that three appointed Senators had the highest "batting averages" when it came to passing their own bills: Gil Kahele passed six of his 17 bills (35.3 percent), Maile Shimabukuro passed six of 25 bills (24 percent) and Malama Solomon passed five of 23 (21.7 percent).

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