Proposal to Make Gas Cap Work Better for Consumers

(KHNL)  Some say with just a few changes, Hawaii's gas cap could save consumers an extra 16-cents per gallon.

"While our gas pricing law has been working, we believe it can be improved and strengthened for the benefit of consumers," said Sen. Ron Menor, Senate Consumer Protection Chairman.

Senate Democrats want to eliminate the state excise tax on gasoline sales. Instead, they want to charge a flat tax of 8-cents per gallon.

Supporters say that way consumers won't have to pay higher excise taxes when gas prices go up.

Democrats in the Senate also want to add Singapore to the list of markets used to calculate the state's gas cap. That list currently includes Los Angeles, the Gulf Coast and New York.

They also want to make one more change. Each week they want to throw out the market with the highest price. So the state's gas cap would only be based on the three markets with the lowest prices.

"These amendments had they been in place earlier would have also moderated the price increases that occurred after hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Menor said.

Critics say the best way to change the gas cap is to get rid of it.

"It's been a fiasco from day one," said Bill Green, a consultant with Kahala Shell. "We knew it would be, we said it would be, it's just driving everyone crazy. Customers and dealers.

"The idea of all of this legislation is what can we do to hurt the oil companies, particularly Chevron," Green said. "And that's a poor way to do anything."