Several bills offer ways to fight terrible traffic
I introduced four transportation relief measures that have passed the state House of Representatives and crossed over to the Senate for consideration. These bills are still alive for passage by the Legislature, which is to reconvene Jan. 16.
How many of you have been trapped in traffic due to lanes being shut down to investigate an accident, and there was no alternative other than to wait it out? Other states are clearing accidents in a one- to two-hour time frame, while here in Hawaii we are usually subjected to an investigation process that closes down roads from four to six hours. House Bill 1549, HD 2, SD 1, would provide the Honolulu Police Department with the necessary tools to record and collect data on the scene and duplicate the data back in the office without compromising the investigation process. This bill would minimize the time that roadway lanes are closed to investigate traffic accidents. HB 1549, HD 2, SD 1, is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate's Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Sen. Rosalyn Baker.
Then there's HB 1547, HD 3, SD 1, which would bring hundreds of engineers and financiers from around the world to Honolulu for an international symposium on highway and freeway construction. This bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, as well. Imagine, for a mere $50,000 in seed money, we could have hundreds of engineers and financial experts from around the world converge on Honolulu, contributing millions into our economy and providing traffic solutions for the motoring public to consider.
In addition, HB 70, HD 3, would permit the private sector to build roadways that the state cannot afford to build. No new highway or freeway lane miles that would connect West Oahu with town are being planned for because to construct reversible express lanes -- whether elevated or by means of an underwater tunnel -- taxes would have to be raised to pay for them. HB 70, HD 3, has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Transportation and International Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Kalani English, that would permit the building of roads more quickly and cheaply without raising taxes.
And finally, HB 724, HD 1, would reduce the amount of money withheld by the state to process the general excise tax collection that is to finance the city's mass transit project for a fixed guideway. Every dollar that is deposited into the city's coffers for mass transit has the potential to yield additional subsidies from the federal government to get it built. Currently, the state is charging the city a 10 percent collection fee on the GET, of which excess funds are being diverted into the general fund and not used for transit. My bill would correct this and deposit all excess funds not used in the state's collection process to be applied toward transportation relief, as was originally intended by the Legislature.
HB 724, HD 1, passed the House unanimously; however, the Senate Economic Development and Taxation Committee, chaired by Sen. Carol Fukunaga, has yet to schedule the bill for a hearing.
The House passed these measures because we recognize that Hawaii is in a transportation crisis, and solutions to bring relief must be explored. I will be reintroducing my automobile insurance accountability bill, HB 1551, which would target those driving without proper motor vehicle insurance, who make up an estimated 20 percent of drivers using our public thoroughfares.
Rep. Rida Cabanilla, a Democrat, represents District 42 (Ewa, Ewa Beach, Lower Waipahu) in the state House. You can reach her at 586-6080.