Aid ferry but balance it with public concerns
Legislators are poised to meet in a special session to help the Superferry.
There are still a lot of "ifs" circulating among the state's political leaders about how to spare the Hawaii Superferry a costly delay in operations and lengthy employee layoffs, while circumventing court rulings that have kept it from sailing, but it appears they are prepared to convene a special legislative session to take action.
It isn't likely lawmakers will amend current statutes, a move that would be imprudent and could further inflame the already heated atmosphere surrounding the ferry. A five-day session isn't enough time for a major overhaul of the three-decade-old Hawaii Environmental Protection Act; that would go beyond what might be necessary to fix what the state Supreme Court ruled was an erroneous exemption of the ferry from legal requirements.
As predicted, Democratic lawmakers are leaving a draft of the measure to the Lingle administration, who they see as having "created the problem," as Rep. Kirk Caldwell said. By that reasoning, he and his colleagues need to make sure the proposal properly balances environment concerns and the aims of the ferry company, who, like lawmakers, rejected bills that would have allowed operations concurrent with an assessment.
Though the proposal will be expedited, this is one piece of legislation that every member of the House and Senate should review thoroughly before casting a vote. Moreover, required hearings shouldn't be just for show, but should be a sincere attempt to consider what the public has to say. After all, shutting out citizens' voices by granting the exemption is, in part, what produced this mess.
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