Blunder dooms gas-price bill in House
A measure to give the Public Utilities Commission funding to monitor gasoline-pricing practices is advancing out of the Senate, but appears to have fallen through the cracks in the House.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee gave final approval yesterday to the funding measure, Senate Bill 990, but did not set aside a specific amount. A previous version of the bill called for $300,000, while the Lingle administration had asked for $1.2 million.
A similar bill was introduced in the House and touted by majority Democrats as a key part of their legislative package.
But House Bill 1790 is likely dead after the Consumer Protection Committee did not hold a hearing on it.
Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell (D, Manoa) said the measure apparently got lost in the shuffle among hundreds of bills working their way through various House committees. He added that it was simply an oversight and not the House's intent to kill the bill.
"We're going to wait for the Senate bill, and we're going to move that bill," Caldwell said.
House leaders have said it is a priority to fund the transparency requirements that were part of last year's repeal of the "gas cap." The chamber's original bill included $500,000, but was amended by the Energy Committee to provide the full $1.2 million requested by the governor.
House Bill 1790 had to be moved out of the Consumer Protection and Finance committees before today.
Although that bill is now dead because of the oversight, the language of it could be inserted into a Senate measure after each side exchanges bills next week. Lawmakers also could provide funding for the PUC in the biennium budget, which the House will begin working on next week.
"I would just like to have two bills moving on something this important," Caldwell said. "That's so you have something in conference (committee), and something to negotiate with."