Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Special Session: Day 1

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.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Great report. Thank you. Please tell us you'll have time to file those kinds or reports for the whole session. That was great.

Kim said...


Thank you. We'll certainly try!

Anonymous said...

When all previous Superferry-related bills have been sent through the environmental protection committee, when the Senate has sent all its superferry-related bills through its environmental protection committee, as well as the current superferry bill before it right now, and when the house superferry bill deals almost exclusively with Hawaii's environmental law, why is it that the Speaker of the House chose to keep the new superferry bill out of the environmental protection committee?

James Gonser said...

I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the purpose of the special session, the reason why the legislature supported coming back for a special session, is to pass a bill that would allow the Superferry to sail while the environmental review was being completed. Given that Rep Morita's (chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection committee) position is against allowing the Superferry to sail until the environmental review is completed, it appeared likely that the bill would die if it was sent to that committee.

As reported, Rep. Morita appealed the referral of the bill, but the majority of members voted against the appeal.

Anonymous said...

So the Leader of the House chose to purposely disregard proper legislative process by sending this bill not to the committee best suited to address the subject matter, but to his friends on committees he knew would pass it?

Committee structure and a proper legislative process exists for a reason, to ensure the laws put out by the legislature are transparent, just, fair and most importantly, created as the product of a legitimate process that goes back more than 250 years in the country.

So what's next? Will the House Leader purposely send other issues like death with dignity or gay marriage to his friends committees that will rule on the issue the way he wants?

How can you justify this?