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Bills introduced in wake of molasses spill die

By Cathy Bussewitz

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:50 p.m. HST, May 08, 2014


A massive molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor last fall led state lawmakers to introduce legislation designed to prevent a repeat performance.

But the proposals they crafted failed to survive the 2014 legislative session.

Three bills were introduced in the state House and another two were proposed in the Senate. But all of those measures died in the Senate at various stages, according to the Legislature's website.

The spill in September killed more than 26,000 fish and other marine life, when about 1,400 tons of molasses dumped into the harbor. It had oozed from a section of pipe that was thought to be sealed off.

One bill (HB 2621) aimed to make government agencies and contractors report issues quickly by creating a maximum time limit for alerting authorities to problems. It also would have required government agencies and contractors to cooperate in investigations. It passed the House but it never got a committee hearing in the Senate.

Another bill (HB 2622) proposed to take money collected from fines imposed on those that violate marine life conservation rules. That money would then be spent on shoring up conservation efforts and protecting the health of coral reefs. It also passed the House, but didn't get a hearing in the Senate. A companion bill (SB 3017) in the Senate never made it to committee.

The proposal that made it the farthest (HB 2620) would have required the University of Hawaii to update a report laying out the state's emergency response to spills. The university had done such a report in 1996, but it has not been updated, lawmakers said. That bill passed both chambers but they couldn't agree on amendments, so the proposal died in a conference committee right before a deadline. Its companion bill (SB 3016) also stalled in the Senate.

Rep. Chris Lee of Kailua and Sen. Mike Gabbard of Kapolei, who introduced the bills, did not immediately return phone calls for comment.






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Jerry_D wrote:
Typical Hawaii legislative process...slow as molasses.
on May 8,2014 | 03:11PM
kauai wrote:
Notice that the bill which got the farthest was a "punt/kick-the-can" to another entity to perform a "study". Disgusting politicians. I wonder if the bill had appropriated funds to perform the "study", or was it a "dry punt"? Another concern is what sort of meetings and/or testimony occurred between Matson and the politicians leading up to the death of all those bills/proposals? Also, how much money in campaign contributions did Matson give to these politicians e.g. "follow the money trail"?
on May 8,2014 | 04:30PM
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