Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 3: House amendment offered by Rep. Morita

The House floor session ended just now with the Reps voting to pass HB1 unamended. The bill now crosses over to the Senate side.

On the floor, Rep. Hermina Morita rose to propose a floor amendment that would impose certain conditions on the Superferry's operation not currently in the House bill, such as speed limits in waters of a certain depth and measures to prevent invasive species from moving between islands via the ferry. The amendment also tasked the Public Utilities Commission, not the governor, with evaluating the efficiency of the regulations and gave the PUC the responsibility of imposing any other necessary conditions to further protect the environment.

This would also eliminate the need for a Task Force (proposed in the current bill) to monitor the Superferry's operations, Rep. Morita said.

The amendment to the current bill would give the legislature a chance "to sideswipe, rather than go full speed ahead" into the metaphorical iceberg that the Superferry situation has become, she added.

Several of her colleagues spoke in favor of the amendment, including Rep. Sylvia Luke, Rep. Lyla Berg and Rep. Della Au Belatti. Rep. Luke favored the idea of giving the duty of oversight to the PUC and said that even though the amendment would make the House bill look more like the current Senate bill, that would mean that the House and Senate were moving closer to finding a compromise on legislation that is acceptable to both chambers.

Rep. Caldwell, Rep. Souki, Rep. Ward and Rep. Meyer spoke in opposition to the amendment, but commended Rep. Morita for proposing the amendment. Rep. McKelvey also rose to oppose the amendment, but applauded Rep. Morita, saying "Ho'oponopono is about coming together in the spirit of compromise."

The House voted and the amendment was defeated, 11 ayes, 35 noes and 5 excused.

The House then voted to pass HB1 unamended and cross the bill over to the Senate. The motion passed with 9 reps voting no (Reps. Belatti, Berg, Carroll, Hanohano, Morita, Saiki, Shimabukuro, Takamine and Tokioka) and 5 excused.

Acting Speaker Blake Oshiro adjourned the House until noon on Monday.

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