House shake-up to return emeritus Speaker Joe Souki to top post

Published On: Nov 21 2012 05:50:09 PM HST   Updated On: Nov 21 2012 07:10:28 PM HST

A handshake with the Republican minority leader sealed the deal for Rep. Joe Souki to regain the position he held 13 years ago.


Souki said he has the 28 votes, two more than he needs to oust fellow democrat Calvin Say as speaker.


"It's in writing and I believe it's solid," said Souki,


"This is historic, and I think this shows speaker Souki's willingness to view all 51 members as part of the house and so the minority caucus is  pleased and united as his position as speaker," said Rep. Aaron Ling Johnson.


In exchange for the Republican votes, the GOP will see three vice-chair commitee positions, one in finance, one in energy and one in economic development.


If Souki's support holds through the start of session, could this mean a return to his pet projects, including the controversial van cameras?


"I would like to have cameras for red lights and for speeding, and I would like to have the police manage that and keep the revenues," Souki said.


 But Souki, who some characterize as pro-tax, said an excise tax hike is not in the cards.


 "The 39-members of the house made a pledge to be against the excise tax and it would be foolish for me to raise that now," said Souki.


  Souki is also a long time gambling advocate, and if the senate position weakens on the issue, there is a chance a gambling bill could go up to the 5th floor.

Last year the governor indicated he was open to looking at what the legislature could agree to.


Lawmakers will be meeting over the next few weeks to talk about the reorganization. But Souki said Wednesday that it is unlikely that House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro will be returning to that post.


"I would probably want to fit him somewhere else where I think he could be as effective as finance chair and I would love to have Marcus with us," said Souki.


Oshiro could not be reached for comment. but insiders in mayor-elect Kirk Caldwell's camp said Oshiro is under consideration to be part of the new city adminstration.


Say is expected to meet with Souki on Friday.


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