Hawaii State Senate
|Hawaii State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 21, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Donna Mercado Kim (D)|
|Majority Leader:||Jamie Kalani English (D)|
|Minority Leader:||Samuel Slom (R)|
Democratic Party (24)
Republican Party (1)
|Length of term:||2-4-4 year system|
|Authority:||Art III, Hawaii Constitution|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (13 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (12 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Hawaii Reapportionment Commission|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
Article III, Section 10 of the Hawaii Constitution establishes that the senate shall convene each year in a regular session that begins at 10:00 a.m. on the third Wednesday in January. These regular sessions are limited by the constitution to a period of 60 working days, which exclude Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and designated recess days.
As of April 2015, Hawaii is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.
Article III of the Hawaii Constitution establishes when the Hawaii State Legislature, which the Senate is a part of, is to be in session. Section 10 of Article III states that the Legislature shall convene in regular session on the third Wednesday in January of every year. Regular sessions are limited to sixty legislative days, but they can be extended by fifteen days by the Governor of Hawaii or by the request of two-thirds of each legislative house. Section 10 mandates that the Legislature take a mandatory recess of at least five days during each regular session.
Section 10 also contains provisions regarding special sessions of the Legislature. Special sessions can involve both houses of the Legislature or the Senate alone. Special sessions can be convened by the Governor of Hawaii or by two-thirds of the house or houses seeking to convene. Special sessions are limited in length. They are not to last more than thirty legislative days, but they, like regular sessions, can be extended for fifteen days.
- See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature is in session from January 21 through early May.
Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include the general excise tax, medical marijuana and homelessness.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 15 through May 2.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included GMO labeling, raising the minimum wage, clean energy and climate change.
A budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year was passed through HB1700. The budget provided $6.189 billion in general funds and $12.147 billion in all means of financing. Sylvia Luke, Chairman of the House Finance Committee described the budget as measured and prudent.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 16 to May 3.
Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included revenue, hotel room tax, GET increase, education funding, and renewable energy tax credits.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 18 to May 3.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 19 through May 5.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
Role in state budget
- See also: Hawaii state budget and finances
- Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in July or August of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
- State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor by September.
- Agency hearings are held in November.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in December.
- In April and May the legislature debates the budget. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
The governor is required by law to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. Though the legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, the budget must to balanced for the governor to sign it into law.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Hawaii was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Hawaii received a grade of C and a numerical score of 71, indicating that Hawaii was "Middling" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Hawaii was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 9, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 3, 2014.
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2012
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate were held in Hawaii on November 6, 2012. A total of 25 seats were up for election. The signature filing deadline was June 5, 2012 and the primary date was August 11, 2012.
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Hawaii State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 23||Clayton Hee||6.9%||13,035||Colleen Meyer|
|District 25||Laura Thielen||19%||23,036||Fred Hemmings|
|District 9||Samuel Slom||20.3%||24,822||Kurt Lajala|
|District 12||Brickwood Galuteria||29.6%||14,097||Liz Larson|
|District 4||Malama Solomon||33.2%||14,762||Kelly Greenwell|
|District 20||Mike Gabbard||43.8%||13,049||Dean Kalani Capelouto|
|District 18||Michelle Kidani||44.5%||20,091||Rojo Herrera|
|District 6||Rosalyn Baker||45%||13,525||Bart Mulvihill|
|District 22||Donovan Dela Cruz||47.1%||14,133||Charles Aki|
|District 21||Maile Shimabukuro||53.5%||10,337||Dickyj Johnson|
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2010
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was July 20, 2010, and the primary Election Day was September 18, 2010.
The partisan breakdown of the Senate before and after the election was as follows:
|Hawaii State Senate|
|Party||As of November 1, 2010||After the 2010 Election|
This chart shows how many candidates ran for state senate in Hawaii in past years and the cumulative amount of campaign contributions in state senate races, including contributions in both primary and general election contests. All figures come from Follow The Money.
|Year||Number of candidates||Total contributions|
In 2010, the total amount of contributions raised in state senate elections was $1,586,733. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Hawaii State Senate|
|Hawaii Association of Realtors||$44,100|
|Ironworkers Local 625||$34,050|
|Hawaii State Teachers Association||$32,420|
|Hawaii Operating Engineers||$18,222|
|Hawaii Carpenters & Joiners||$16,800|
|Plumbers & Pipefitters||$16,000|
|Operating Engineers Local 3||$16,000|
|Painters Local 1791||$13,450|
|Longshore & Warehouse Local 142||$11,950|
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 20, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,323,064. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Hawaii State Senate|
|Hawaii Association of Realtors||$45,700|
|United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada||$44,000|
|Hawaii Carpenters Local 745||$32,750|
|Hawaii State Teachers Association||$32,000|
|University of Hawaii Professional Assembly||$28,615|
|Ironworkers Local 625||$27,850|
|Hawaii Operating Engineers||$27,350|
|Electrical Workers Local 1186||$22,800|
|Longshore & Warehouse Local 142||$19,225|
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 23, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,544,932. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Hawaii State Senate|
|Fong, Robert (Bob)||$61,868|
|University of Hawaii Professional Assembly||$52,700|
|Smith, Paul E||$31,396|
|Hawaii Association of Realtors||$28,600|
|Yee, Randall M L||$25,968|
|Pico Jr, Thomas M||$23,986|
|Island Insurance Co||$23,550|
|United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada||$18,000|
|Lockwood, Frank T||$15,520|
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 21, 2004, and a general election on November 5, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,937,353. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Hawaii State Senate|
|Trimble, Robert A||$40,000|
|Aduja, Peter A||$31,569|
|Hawaii Association of Realtors||$25,050|
|University of Hawaii Professional Assembly||$24,000|
|Pacific Northwest Ltd||$19,500|
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 23, 2002, and a general election on November 7, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,635,442. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Hawaii State Senate|
|Trimble, Gordon M||$77,020|
|Trimble, Robert A||$42,500|
|Hawaii Association of Realtors||$21,150|
|Hawaii State Teachers Association||$20,687|
|University of Hawaii Professional Assembly||$16,084|
|Plumbers & Pipefitters||$15,250|
|Ironworkers Local 625||$14,500|
- See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 20, 2000, and a general election on November 4, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $566,764. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Hawaii State Senate|
|Hawaii Insurers Council||$6,000|
|Hawaii Association of Realtors||$5,200|
|Mccorriston Miho Miller Mukai & Mackinnon||$5,000|
|Hawaii Medical Association||$4,800|
|Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc||$4,350|
|Paramount Hotels Llc||$4,000|
|First Insurance Co of Hawaii||$4,000|
From Article III, Section 7 of the Hawaii Constitution: No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of the senate unless the person has been a resident of the State for not less than three years, has attained the age of majority and is, prior to filing nomination papers and thereafter continues to be, a qualified voter of the senatorial district from which the person seeks to be elected; except that in the year of the first general election following reapportionment, but prior to the primary election, an incumbent senator may move to a new district without being disqualified from completing the remainder of the incumbent senator's term.
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the Senate, the Governor is responsible for appointing a replacement. For all vacancies, the Governor must appoint a replacement within 60 days after the vacancy happened. The candidate is selected from a list of three prospective candidates submitted by the political party that last held the vacant seat. The party has thirty days after the vacancy to submit a list of prospective candidates. If the person leaving the seat is a independent, the Governor must select a resident from the vacant district that is not a member of any political party.
- See also: Redistricting in Hawaii
Redistricting is handled by the nine-member Hawaii Reapportionment Commission.
Hawaii received its local census data on February 22, 2011. Governor Neil Abercrombie suggested that a constitutional amendment be put on the ballot to return Hawaii to multi-member districts, which had not been used since 1981 following a court decision. Though the state Attorney General cleared the path without the need for an amendment, the Commission shot down the idea.
After having its first set of maps struck down by the Hawaii Supreme Court due to the exclusion of some non-residents, the Commission approved the final set of maps on March 8, 2012. A federal lawsuit to these maps was cleared in April, but a federal panel refused to overturn the maps in May, clearing the way for the elections to continue as scheduled even as the court case had yet to be heard.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Hawaii legislature are paid $46,272/year. Additionally, legislators receive $150/day for per diem for members living outside Oahu during session, and $120/day during the interim while conducting official legislative business. Members living inside Oahu receive $10/day during the interim while conducting legislative business.
When sworn in
Hawaii legislators assume office the first day of Legislative session following the election (usually the third Wednesday of January).
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of April 2015|
The President and Vice President of the Senate are elected by a majority vote of the members of the Senate. The President serves as the presiding officer, whose duties include opening meetings, maintaining order in the Senate, appoint all members of committees, and establish final dates for action on legislation.
The Vice President, along with the President, prepares and administers a budget for the Senate. In the absence of the President, the Vice President assumes all duties of the position.
|Current members, Hawaii State Senate|
|7||Jamie Kalani English||Democratic||2000|
|10||Les Ihara, Jr.||Democratic||1994|
|13||Suzanne Chun Oakland||Democratic||1996|
|14||Donna Mercado Kim||Democratic||2000|
|22||Donovan Dela Cruz||Democratic||2010|
The Hawaii Senate has 16 standing committees:
- Commerce and Consumer Protection
- Economic Development and Technology
- Energy and Environment
- Government Operations
- Hawaiian Affairs
- Higher Education and the Arts
- Human Services and Housing
- Judiciary and Labor
- Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs
- Tourism and International Affairs
- Water and Land
- Ways and Means
Partisan balance 1992-2013
Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Hawaii State Senate. The Hawaii State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final three years of the study, Hawaii was under Democratic trifectas.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Hawaii state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Hawaii has never had a Republican trifecta, but has had a Democratic trifecta between the years 1992 and 2002, and again beginning in 2011. The interruption of these two periods came in 2003 with a Republican governor. The state’s highest SQLI ranking (11th) came in 1993 under a Democratic trifecta, while Hawaii’s lowest SQLI ranking (39th) in 1999 and 2001, also under a Democratic trifecta. The state saw a precipitous decline in its ranking between 1994 and 1995, falling thirteen spots from 15th to 28th. Between 1996 and 1997, the state recovered in its SQLI ranking by nine spots before dropping to a new low (39th) in 1999.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 29.46
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
- SQLI average with divided government: 33.88
- Hawaii House of Representatives
- Governor of Hawaii
- Hawaii State Legislature
- Hawaii Constitution
- Official website of the Hawaii State Senate
- List of Senate Committees
- Senate rules for the 2090-2010 senate
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- KHON, "Lawmakers eye taxes, medical marijuana for next legislative session," January 19, 2015
- civilbeat.com, "Legislative Preview 2014: Will Lawmakers Play It Safe in an Election Year?," January 14, 2014
- hawaii247.comm "Legislature passes state 2014-2015 budget," April 29, 2014
- Hawaii News Now, " Lawmakers set stage for legislative session," January 15, 2013
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, Hawaii
- Follow the Money: "Hawaii Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "Hawaii 2008 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Hawaii 2006 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Hawaii 2004 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Hawaii 2002 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Hawaii 2000 Candidates," accessed July 17, 2013
- Hawaii Legislature, "Hawaii Revised Statutes," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 17-3(a) (1)-(2))
- Hawaii Legislature, "Hawaii Revised Statutes," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 17-4(a)-(b))
- Star-Advertiser, "Multimember districts being talked up again," May 13, 2011
- Star-Advertiser, "Road to reapportionment," May 22, 2011
- Civil Beat, "Hawaii Reapportionment Challenge Will Get Day in Court," April 10, 2012
- Honolulu Civil Beat, "Elections on Track as Court Rules Against Hawaii Redistricting Suit," May 22, 2012
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Leadership of the Hawaii Senate
- 2009-2010 Rules of the Hawaii Senate
State of Hawaii
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Director of Finance | State Auditor | Superintendent of Education | Hawaii Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs | Commissioner of Agriculture | Chairperson of Land and Natural Resources | Director of Labor and Industrial Relations | Chair of Public Utilities |