Case introduces bills
to halt Jones Act
The legislation would
shipping to foreign ships
U.S. Rep. Ed Case said he hopes to end what he calls a "stranglehold" of cargo shipping that exists between Hawaii and the West Coast by repealing the 83-year-old Jones Act.
But he'll first have to get that legislation by U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who says he's against such a move.
"I have not read Rep. Case's measures in full detail. However, based upon my understanding of his intent, I must register my opposition to them," Inouye said yesterday.
Case, D-rural Oahu-neighbor islands, who won a special election this past January, introduced three bills yesterday to amend or repeal the federal Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act.
The law requires all shipping between U.S. ports to be aboard American-built, American-owned and American-crewed ships. Case said the Jones Act is the reason why Matson Navigation and Horizon Lines have a monopoly on shipping goods to Hawaii, and a change in this long-standing custom is overdue.
"The major effort of the Jones Act today is to control the market and increase prices for westbound shipping from West Coast ports to Hawaii," Case said yesterday.
"This is where virtually all of Hawaii's businesses and residents stand to benefit from repeal," he said.
The first of Case's measures would exempt all noncontiguous U.S. locations from the Jones Act. A second bill just exempts Hawaii. The third measure exempts Hawaii agriculture and livestock.
"Essentially, the bills are intended to lay out the options from broad to narrow; we can get into the issue at any level and work our way up or down," Case told U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., yesterday.
Still, Case faces a tough hurdle in Inouye if any of the measures get passed out of the U.S. House. The third-ranking member of the U.S. Senate said he has always done everything he could to uphold the Jones Act throughout his political career.
"The Jones Act has served Hawaii well. It is in Hawaii's economic interest to have dedicated carriers that serve not only Honolulu, but also Hilo and Nawiliwili with high quality, regularly scheduled service," Inouye said.
Inouye said it is in our national security interest to have American vessels and experienced mariners that can be called upon to support troops abroad.
"We cannot rely on foreign carriers to supply our military in times of conflict. This is especially important today as we undertake operations not only in Iraq, but throughout the world," Inouye said.