By Beth Hillyer
HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Superferry clears another major hurdle Monday but still faces rough waters ahead.
During this special session, the Senate today votes in favor of allowing the ferry to operate while environmental concerns are addressed.
The Alakai remains docked here at Pier 19 in Honolulu Harbor, while a couple blocks away lawmakers continue debating its future.
Monday morning, 20 Senators voted to allow the Superferry to continue operations, but 14 voiced their reservations. Five neighbor island Senators voted no.
The Senate passes a bill allowing the superferry to operate while an environmental impact statement is completed. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa sums it up, "I would expect the House would probably pass the Senate version by the end of the Special session if the Superferry would be able to utilize the bill and operate as soon as conditions are set forth."
The Senate bill crosses over to the house, where a committee listened to testimony.
Kauai County Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura believes, "I think the responsibility for protecting the environment is even more crucial when it's contemplated for the EIS to be done while the Superferry is operating."
Hanabusa adds, "This bill in my opinion has been very carefully crafted and it will withstand a challenge."
It was another positive day in the eyes of Superferry executives.
President and CEO John Garibaldi says, "We are very happy to see the Senate passed over to House 20-5 vote, very strong endorsement of the Ferry."
Senator Hanabusa concludes, "I think once this bill is enacted it goes back to the Governor and Superferry operators and regardless that they have a bill in place, they must still reach out to their respective communities."
Garibaldi and lawmakers agree, it's time to smooth the waters with outer island opponents.