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New Calls For Bringing Ukraine, Georgia Into NATO

I like this period of the legislative session because the real politicians rise to the surface and do things you don’t see during the beginning of the session. Simply put, when there is a significant gap between the most powerful politicians and the least powerful, dysfunctional things happen.

One of the really great quotes I like about leadership is from David L. Bradford, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in leadership at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He says, “High power makes you deaf, and low power gives you laryngitis.”

That is pretty much the situation at the Legislature during crossover time. Everyone is working around the clock to avoid two things: First, a deadlock among the majority, which can cause a special session, which no one wants because it’s an election year and there is a lot of campaigning to be done. Second, if important bills with strong opposition end up in conference committee, then a whole lot of trading is rampant as legislators go hunting for votes to pass the bill out of committee. That’s where the trading goes public, and at a conference-committee hearing everything is fresh and out in the open. It’s really exciting. There is no script in conference.

Most powerful leaders do not need or want passive, obsequious subordinates, but that’s what you will likely witness at a conference-committee hearing if you’re lucky. There are a few legislative leaders who fit this mold, including state Sens. Clayton Hee and Donna Mercado Kim. If you follow them around, you can observe their style.

The opposite of powerful legislators are those who influence others with smooth talk, hugs and promises to produce precious legislation and choice committee assignments for members of their “gang.” House Speaker Joe Souki is a classic example of influencing outcomes without using his position of power. The reason is that he serves at the pleasure of the majority and has to be able to count votes on proposals very accurately.

For that reason, the minimum-wage bill managed by Hee is a given, and the proposal by Neighbor Island mayors to get a bigger chunk of the Hotel Room Tax is managed by Speaker Souki. It’s that time of the legislative session to see those with influence and those without a lot of influence hard at work to take care of their friends and influence their re-election.

Sit back and enjoy the show. Depending on your frame of reference, it will either look like a pro-wrestling championship match or a Broadway play. The governor gets what he wants and so does everyone else, especially if they are on the “preferred” friends list.