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Friday, August 5, 2005
Let gas price caps
THE ISSUEGasoline price caps are scheduled to be implemented on Sept. 1.
The price lids were supposed to go into effect a year ago but were delayed after a report prepared by a California petroleum consulting firm concluded they "would bring volatility, market distortions and opportunities for profiteers to game the market."
San Francisco lawyers who represented the state in a price-fixing lawsuit against the oil companies dismissed the outlook as "a report by former industry insiders that provides a largely industry viewpoint."
Shell Oil Co., Tesoro Hawaii and Chevron USA recently asked the PUC to delay implementation of the caps, which are scheduled to take effect Sept. 1. The companies are asking for more study to determine their effect on the economy and consumers.
John Felmy, director of the American Petroleum Institute, predicts shortages resulting in long gas lines "that could be devastating" to businesses in Hawaii.
That remains to be seen. The law as enacted three years ago would have allowed Hawaii's prices to be 38 cents a gallon above those in California. During the past year, prices in the two states have been about the same; the average is now $2.65 in Hawaii and $2.59 in California. The law was changed to peg the caps to the national average, now $2.28.
The Legislature considered creating a watchdog system to monitor the effects, but those should become readily apparent even if, as Felmy suggests, later rather than sooner. If Felmy turns out to be right, the caps can be brought to a quick halt as an experiment that failed.
THE ISSUESingle-sex private schools fear the ruling on Kamehameha Schools could affect them.
The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Kamehameha Schools to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a Reconstruction-era statute aimed at protecting the rights of freed slaves. The U.S. Supreme Court found in 1976 that the citizens' right under that law "to make and enforce contracts" regardless of their race required schools to enter into a "contractual relationship" with parents on that basis.
Contrary to some media reports, the Kamehameha Schools' admission policy was not found to be unconstitutional. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment does not apply to private institutions -- from schools to country clubs -- that don't receive federal funds. Kamehameha does not accept federal money.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1975 prohibits sex-based discrimination in publicly supported schools, but its application to public schools and private schools that receive federal funds is unclear. President Bush has called for more single-sex public schools and single-sex classes within public schools as part of his No Child Left Behind program, but the Supreme Court has held that such schools and classes must have an "exceedingly persuasive justification."
The high court in 1996 found Virginia Military Institute, a state institution, in violation of the 14th Amendment and forced it to accept women into its ranks because the state had denied them "comparable" educational opportunities elsewhere. The court's opinion endorsed a lower court's options for the institution: "Admit women to VMI; establish parallel institutions or programs; or abandon state support, leaving VMI free to pursue its policies as a private institution."
Other private institutions that don't receive state support are similarly free to pursue their own single-sex admission policies, as long as they are not racially discriminatory.
|Dennis Francis, Publisher||Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
|Frank Bridgewater, Editor
|Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor
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