Lawmakers Inch Towards Superferry Special Session

Calvin Say
Calvin Say

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Hawaii lawmakers are inching towards a special session to save the Hawaii Superferry.

Members of the Senate met Tuesday afternoon in a caucus. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, (D) Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Waianae, said a special session is likely, but a final draft of the Superferry bill is still in the works.

The Hawaii Superferry may finally be able to resume service, if lawmakers end up following Governor Linda Lingle's lead.

"The majority of the Senate, I believe, is in favor of the special session in coming back to address the problem with the Superferry," said Hanabusa.

In the past week, the Senate and the House of Representatives have held meetings to discuss the Superferry dilemma. They have gone through several drafts of the proposed bill, and recognize the wording is crucial.

"We have some issues that we have to address in terms of potential Constitutional challenges," said Hanabusa.

Environmental groups have criticized lawmakers, saying a special session would undo the Hawaii Supreme Court's ruling.

"No one can have their cake and eat it, too," said Speaker of the House Calvin Say, (D) St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Maunalani. "The general public at large wants to see the ferry operate with the conditions that the state of Hawaii does the environmental assessment and the environmental impact statement."

Speaker Say's son used to work for the Hawaii Superferry as an account executive. He was laid off last week after the furlough announcement. Some wonder if this is a conflict of interest.

"My son has nothing to do with Superfery as far as the father," said Say.

So, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Say plans to take some action.

"What would happen is that when we go back to special session, I'll ask the vice chair to take my place and I'll sit on the floor of the House and raise that question of conflict of interest," said Say. "And at that point, the vice chair can rule for or against me in voting or not voting."

Another chapter unfolds, in the Hawaii Superferry saga.

Lawmakers hope the special session starts by the middle of next week. When it does, they expect it to last about six to seven days.

But before that happens, they hope to visit neighbor island residents either this weekend or early next week to get their input. Lawmakers expect to have a final draft of the Superferry bill by then.