Rep. Marcus Oshiro turned up the heat in the icebox, aka Capitol Auditorium, this afternoon. In a tense exchange with Governor Lingle, Chair Oshiro questioned the governor on why the legislature should pass a bill specifically to save the Superferry. The governor explained that she doesn't believe that the purpose of the bill is to save one company; it's about saving the service that the Superferry provides for the people of Hawaii.
Oshiro also had questions on the relationship between the Superferry legislation and the Supreme Court decision on the interpretation of the environmental review statute (chapter 343). He pointed out that the bill before the legislature does not address the Supreme Court decision, and that there is still uncertainty about the application of the law. The governor agreed that the legislature should review the statute next session, but that it was not necessary to make changes to that section of the law in order to save the Superferry service.
Oshiro's hard line of questioning led up to his final point which was to question why the Superferry needed to be "saved" when the Hawaii Superferry is not a "mom and pop" operation; indeed, it is a company with great political and financial resources. "I'm not convinced that this company needs to be saved," said Rep. Oshiro. "This is a company that is well-heeled, well-financed, well-connected that does not need the Hawaii state legislature to save it." Speaker Emeritus and Transportation Chair Joe Souki called a recess when it became apparent that Rep. Oshiro and Governor were going to continue to be in disagreement on that point.
Late this evening, Chair Oshiro expressed appreciation that the governor appeared today after receiving his letter, as did OEQC Acting Director Larry Lau. As the chair of Finance, he recommended that the committee vote aye with reservations, but also encouraged members to vote their conscience on the issue.