Hawaii State Senate

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Hawaii State Senate

Seal of Hawaii.png
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 16, 2013
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Donna Kim, (D)
Majority Leader:   Brickwood Galuteria (D)
Minority Leader:   Samuel Slom, (R)
Members:  25
   Democratic Party (24)
Republican Party (1)
Length of term:   2-4-4 year system
Authority:   Art III, Hawaii Constitution
Salary:   $48,708/year
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (25 seats)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Hawaii Reapportionment Commission
The Hawaii State Senate is the upper chamber of the Hawaii State Legislature. It meets in Honolulu and includes 25 state senators. Each member represents an average of 54,412 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 48,461 residents.[2]

Senators are elected to four-year terms and are not subject to term limits.

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 May 2013, Hawaii is one of 13 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 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 16 to mid-March.

Major issues

Much of the 60 day session will be focused on finances and the state budget. Major issues will include revenue, hotel room tax, GET increase, education funding, and renewable energy tax credits.[3]


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

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 20th to April 29th. The 2011 session starts on January 19, 2011.



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.


See also: Hawaii State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Hawaii State Senator were held in Hawaii on November 2, 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
     Democratic Party 23 24
     Republican Party 2 1
Total 25 25

Campaign contributions

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.[4]

Year Number of candidates Total contributions
2010 46 $1,586,733
2008 26 $2,020,962
2006 28 $1,237,247
2004 25 $1,646,425
2002 59 $1,635,442

In 2010, the total amount of contributions raised in state senate elections was $1,586,733. The top 10 donors were: [5]


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.


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
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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[6] [7].


See also: Redistricting in Hawaii

Redistricting is handled by the nine-member Hawaii Reapportionment Commission.

2010 census

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.[8][9]

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.[10][11]



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.[12]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Hawaii legislators assume office the first day of Legislative session following the election (usually the third Wednesday of January).

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 24
     Republican Party 1
Total 25

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Hawaii State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Hawaii State Senate.PNG


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.[13]

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.[14]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Hawaii State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Donna Kim Electiondot.png Democratic
Vice President of the Senate Ronald Kouchi Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Michelle Kidani Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Whip Gilbert Kahele Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Whip Jill Tokuda Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Floor Leader Will Espero Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Majority Policy Leader Les Ihara, Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic
State Senate Minority Leader/Floor Leader Samuel Slom Ends.png Republican

Current members

Current members, Hawaii State Senate
District Representative Party Assumed office
1 Gilbert Kahele Electiondot.png Democratic 2011
2 Russell Ruderman Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
3 Joshua Green Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
4 Malama Solomon Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
5 Gilbert Keith-Agaran Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
6 Rosalyn Baker Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
7 Jamie Kalani English Electiondot.png Democratic 2000
8 Ronald Kouchi Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
9 Samuel Slom Ends.png Republican 1996
10 Les Ihara, Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic 1994
11 Brian Taniguchi Electiondot.png Democratic 1994
12 Brickwood Galuteria Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
13 Suzanne Chun Oakland Electiondot.png Democratic 1996
14 Donna Mercado Kim Electiondot.png Democratic 2000
15 Glenn Wakai Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
16 David Ige Electiondot.png Democratic 1994
17 Clarence Nishihara Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
18 Michelle Kidani Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
19 Will Espero Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
20 Mike Gabbard Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
21 Maile Shimabukuro Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
22 Donovan Dela Cruz Electiondot.png Democratic 2010
23 Clayton Hee Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
24 Jill Tokuda Electiondot.png Democratic 2006
25 Laura Thielen Electiondot.png Democratic 2012

Senate Committees

The Hawaii Senate has 14 standing committees:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Hawaii
Partisan breakdown of the Hawaii legislature from 1992-2013

Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Hawaii State Senate. The Hawaii State Senate is one 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 have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Hawaii, the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Hawaii state government(1992-2013).PNG

External links