Photo: Watching from the gallery are Superferry supporters and opponents.
The Special Session rather quietly came to a close this afternoon as the House voted 39-11 to pass SB1 SD1, a bill that would allow the Superferry to resume service while an environmental impact statement is conducted.
Although the end of the session was quiet, the floor debate was lively. Gov. Linda Lingle joined the scant crowd in the gallery for the opening of the floor session and sat through remarks from the first several speakers.
"We are one state, one Hawaii, not a divided Hawaii," said Rep. Joseph Souki, standing in support of the bill.
He continued, "The water is our highway, the air is our highway...why should we put barriers between the water and air?"
"[The legislature] shouldn't be making laws to correct political fixes gone bad," said Rep. Hermina Morita, who rose in opposition to the measure, describing it as "one ugly bill" that would haunt the legislature in the future.
"The public interest is served only when the rule of law is followed," she said.
Rep. Faye Hanohano also stood, as she did yesterday, to speak in Hawaiian about her opposition to the measure.
Many spoke in support, but with reservations. Rep. Angus McKelvey, described the bill as a "very imperfect measure," but added that he believed the public good that would come from its passage outweighed the negatives.
The debate continued for several hours with reps rising both in support and in opposition. Acting Speaker Blake Oshiro kept each speaker to his or her five minutes. He was applauded for his 6-day term as Speaker by all the members after taking his seat after the final vote. Rep. Calvin Say then reassumed the position of Speaker of the House.
In the end, after all the excitement and late hours over the last week, just a handful of die-hard legislature-watchers, several reporters and camera crews, a few legislative staff members (two in costume), some curious members of the public, and Superferry CEO John Garibaldi and ferry supporters watched from the gallery as the Special Session came to a close. The bill will now go before the Governor, who is expected to sign it into law.