Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Gov asks for more
emergency powers

He also requests a $1 million
contingency fund but doesn't
reveal the fund's purpose

Terror line gets few calls

By Richard Borreca

Gov. Ben Cayetano is asking the state Legislature to give his office new emergency powers to deal with the state's financial crisis.

Before leaving Sunday for a tourism promotion trip to Japan, Cayetano sent to the Legislature a new list of bills he wants the Legislature to adopt this month during a special legislative session. Included was the new request for emergency powers.

He asked the Legislature to "grant the governor emergency powers by amending Chapter 209." That section of state law deals with disaster relief and rehabilitation and allows the governor to declare a state disaster when "the effects on the health and living standards of such a substantial number of persons and the effect on the economy of the state are of such a nature as to warrant assistance from the state government."

The message from the governor did not specify how Cayetano wanted the emergency powers expanded or for how long.

Cayetano also asked for a $1 million contingency fund, up from the $15,000 he is now allotted to spend as he sees fit. The brief message to the Legislature did not explain how the money would be used.

Senate President Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa-North Shore), although supportive of the emergency-powers suggestion, called the $1 million request "preposterous."

House Speaker Calvin Say said he was concerned about the emergency-powers proposal and at the size of the request for emergency funds, especially because it was for no specified purpose.

After a weekend of meetings with state department heads, Say said he is still concerned that the state does not have enough money for the new proposals to cut taxes, extend unemployment benefits and boost tourist promotions while still dealing with a falling budget.

"How are we going to pay for all this?" he asked.

Bunda said all of Cayetano's requests for special or emergency powers should be coordinated into one bill.

"He already has bills that give him superpowers," Bunda said.

He added that if the Legislature were to extend Cayetano's emergency powers, it should be for only a short, specific time, such as six months.

Democratic senators, meeting yesterday in caucus, said they also are concerned that the state does not have enough money to fund economic relief efforts.

"What we need first of all is a financial plan from the governor to find out what the financial projects are," said Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae), Ways and Means vice chairwoman. "Without that it is very difficult."

Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa), Ways and Means Committee chairman, said the one bright spot was a report from the state Unemployment Division that unemployment claims, which have rocketed more than 440 percent since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, are starting to level off.


Terrorism hot line
off to slow start

A police hot line set up last Friday to receive reports of suspected terrorist activity has received only a "handful" of calls, Honolulu police said yesterday.

The number is 225-5473, or "CALLHPD."

Police said one call came from a security officer at Honolulu Harbor about midnight Sunday, reporting that "Middle Eastern" men were taking pictures around a power plant.

Police said they found six men from India who are employees of the Carnival Cruise Ship Spirit, which arrived earlier in the day.

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