It's "Opening Day" here at the legislature for a special session to consider legislation to allow the Hawaii Superferry to sail while an EIS is conducted.
A Senate hearing on the Senate bill is currently underway in the Capitol auditorium at the Chamber level. The House will hold its public hearing on the House bill tomorrow at 9 a.m. (See our previous post for info on how to submit testimony.)
Some things from the floor session this morning:
After a recess, Speaker Say let the members know that Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu had submitted his letter of resignation from the Vice Speaker position. Instead of accepting the resignation, Speaker relieved Rep. Karamatsu from his duties until Opening Day of the 2008 session. Rep. Karamatsu may or may not reassume the Vice Speaker position during the 2008 Legislative session, depending on his court proceedings scheduled for late December and, ultimately, the feeling of the majority caucus as to whether he should continue to serve in that capacity.
Speaker also announced that he will not be presiding as Speaker during the special session because he felt that discussion about his son, an entry level account executive with the Hawaii Superferry, had become a distraction from the real issues the House is being asked to consider. The House later decided that Speaker does not have a conflict of interest because of his son, meaning that he'll be allowed to vote on any actions on the Superferry legislation.
Because neither himself nor Rep. Karamatsu would preside over the special session, Speaker requested Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell to act as Speaker. Rep. Caldwell, however, declined, wishing to stay on the floor and debate the issues with his colleagues. Majority Floor Leader Blake Oshiro was then asked to preside over the special session. He accepted and stepped up to the rostrum to finish the House's business for the rest of the session.
On the floor, Rep. Hermina Morita, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, requested that the Superferry bill be heard before the House Finance, Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection committees, instead of just the House Finance and Transportation committees as is scheduled right now. The motion was defeated, 29 nays to 17 ayes, 5 excused.
Rep. Oshiro, presiding as speaker, adjourned the House.
The House will hear public testimony tomorrow on both the Superferry legislation (9 a.m., State Capitol auditorium, Chamber level) and a bill to address the state's extended sentencing law (4 p.m., Rm. 325) before reconvening at 8 o'clock tomorrow night.