It’s not just about a boat -- it’s about our future
Everything we do has consequences. We as individual legislators and as a body should proceed on the Hawaii Superferry issue with aloha and wisdom to do what is in the best interest of the entire state. Finding a way to enable the Superferry to operate might be the obvious object of this discussion, but the reasons for a special session are far broader and wider reaching.
» Representing our constituents. An overwhelming majority of Hawaii residents want the Superferry. This boat represents the ability to bring together families, groups and their vehicles from different islands. It also gives small businesses the ability to move goods in a more cost-efficient way. This alternative form of transportation will create a closer Hawaii, helping local farmers, hula halau, caterers, sports teams, those who cannot travel by air, those coming together for family reunions and many others. In emergencies, the Superferry would be used to move emergency equipment, medical supplies and vehicles.
» Wisdom. We must meet the needs and desires of the majority while balancing them with the possible long-term outcomes -- both good and bad. First, with Maui Judge Joseph Cardoza's recent decision to void the Superferry's operating agreement, the door is wide open for a lawsuit against the state by the Superferry.
Second, the "interpretation" of the law by the Supreme Court threatens to add more costs to the state and counties. The state followed the law and the practice of the law that stated that Kahului Harbor improvements were exempt from environmental review because there was no serious harm from these improvements. The court decision could have ramifications for other vessels that could use the harbor improvements. The broadening of this law and the precedent this decision creates will have a chilling effect on how we do anything with state or county money or land. It will be even more costly (in time and money) for government to provide essential services to the public.
Third, the Superferry's losses due to the delay in operations from the unsettling legal and regulatory environment tarnishes our state's reputation as a fair place to do business. It is a cause for businesses, both local and abroad, to think twice before investing money in our state.
Fourth, and certainly not least, is respecting and preserving our way of life and our environment.
» Understanding and consensus. This is no easy task. With 76 legislators and the governor, we have a tall order to fill bringing different minds to agree on one piece of legislation in a short period of time.
These considerations should direct us to pass a bill in special session that serves the people by allowing the Superferry to operate, protecting the state against a lawsuit, and stating our intent to respect and protect the environment by revising Chapter 343 of the law. I believe the Superferry should be allowed to operate while an environmental assessment or impact statement is undertaken.
We are ready to work with the Democrats and Gov. Linda Lingle in a special session. This is no time for partisanship or to posture ourselves for a future election. The action we take now will be remembered for years to come.
House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan, a Republican, represents District 32 (Lower Pearlridge/Aiea/ Halawa, Pearl Harbor, Hickam, Foster Village, Mapunapuna, Moanalua Gardens).