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Posted: Friday, March 7th, 2014 12:38 PM HST

Hawaii House speaker formally reprimands lawmaker

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Hawaii House Speaker Joseph Souki on Thursday formally reprimanded a House lawmaker for her conduct during public hearings and threatened her committee assignments.

Souki says in a letter to Rep. Faye Hanohano that he would remove her from all committee assignments if she is disruptive, disrespectful or discourteous.

Last month, a Hawaii Pacific University student told lawmakers Hanohano rudely upbraided him when he spoke at a committee hearing on shark fishing.

Six days later, Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman William Aila wrote Souki to say Hanohano had been abusive and racially discriminatory to department staffers.

Souki says an investigation found the complaints were substantially accurate. Hanohano's behavior lessened public confidence in the integrity of the House.

The House leadership initially considered more severe punishments, including suspending Hanohano or stripping her of her committee chairmanship, Souki told reporters in a news conference. Souki says that a few weeks ago he reached out to Hanohano asking for her input on how to handle the situation, but she didn't respond.

However, since then her conduct has improved, which Souki considers a "tacit apology," so the group chose to write the warning letter instead.

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