Constituent Inquiries re Bringing Back the Superferry

Recently I received numerous emails and a petition from constituents requesting a referendum to bring back the  Superferry.

I understand fully the high price of interisland airfare, and I remember how much the Hawaii Superferry seemed to provide added competition to temper the cost of airfares and greater convenience to interisland travel.

First, there is no provision in Hawaii’s constitution or the Hawaii Revised Statutes to authorize a referendum process to put the issue to a vote of the people. All laws need to be passed by the Legislature.

Second, there are several bills from the 2011 Regular Session that relate to bringing back a Superferry system or an interisland water ferry system. These bills are still alive for consideration in the upcoming 2012 Regular Session, being carried over to the second year of a two-year biennium legislative period. In order to be enacted, article III, section 15, of the Hawaii  State  Constitution requires such a bill that is pending at final adjournment in an odd-numbered year to also pass at least one reading in the house in which it originated.

I would encourage all of you who are interested in this issue to view these bills online. They may be accessed at the  Capitol website (www.capitol.hawaii.gov) by tying the word “ferry” in the keywords search box on the left side of the webpage. The status of the bills can be accessed by typing in the bill number in the Bill Status/Measure Status search box on the left side of the webpage. The most recent draft of the bill will automatically turn up along with the  procedural history and the current status as the last entry.

Feel free to write or email the Chair of the particular committee, Senate or House, in which the bill is currently referred to, as reflected in the last entry on the bill status sheet. Regardless of the current wording of the bill, it can be amended (except for the title of the bill) by the committee in which the bill was pending.

I feel that while an interisland ferry system is desperately needed, there are large hurdles to overcome, such as costs, obtaining government and private financing, environmental issues, and “way-of-life” issues for some, to name a few. Also, we need to bear in mind that federal funding is being reduced. Therefore, obtaining an interested private party to attempt the undertaking of a project may be unlikely in the current economy.