A forum for critical analysis of international issues and developments of particular relevance to the sustainable political and socio-economic development of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
05 April 2013
Hawaii Senator calls for exemption to Jones Act
Sen Solomon Resolutions Urge Hawaii Jones Act Exemption
By Andrew Walden
Sen. Malama Solomon February 28 introduced two Senate Resolutions (SR20 and SCR42) with identical wording requesting Hawaii be exempted from the Jones Act. Here is the full text:
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 42
REQUESTING CONGRESS TO PROVIDE AN EXEMPTION OR A SUNSET WAIVER FOR HAWAII FROM THE JONES ACT TO LOWER CONSTRUCTION COSTS AND PROVIDE NEW TONNAGE.
WHEREAS, historically the United States has sought to protect its shipping industry through cabotage laws, such as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act; and
WHEREAS, the Jones Act strictly limits the shipping of merchandise between the United States and its territories to American-built and registered ships crewed by United States citizens; and
WHEREAS, eighty percent of the goods consumed in Hawaii are imported from the mainland or foreign countries, and ninety-eight percent of these goods come by ship; and
WHEREAS, while transpacific shipping costs are some of the lowest in the world, especially from the United States to Asia, the freight rates between the mainland and Hawaii are some of the highest; and
WHEREAS, much of the high cost of living in Hawaii can be attributed to unnecessarily high shipping costs caused by the Jones Act; and
WHEREAS, such excess costs present an immense and unfair burden on the people of Hawaii; and
WHEREAS, Congress already recognized the unique aspects of the Pacific region and the excessive burdens placed on it by the Jones Act when it exempted the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa from the applicability of the Jones Act; and
WHEREAS, the almost total dependence on sea freight services makes the economy of Hawaii extremely sensitive to even minor restrictions or disruptions in transportation; and
WHEREAS, any disruption in the delivery of oil, food, or other vital goods would severely threaten the health, safety, and security of residents of Hawaii; and
WHEREAS, an exemption from the Jones Act would protect the collective health, safety, and security of the people of Hawaii and would also foster shipping competition that will economically benefit consumers; and
WHEREAS, the federal Government Accountability Office by letter dated April 10, 2012, indicated that it would release a report by February 28, 2013, on its review of the Jones Act and its effect upon the economy of Hawaii, among other places; and
WHEREAS, it is anticipated that the report of the Government Accountability Office will recommend that a "sunset waiver" be created to provide an exemption for Hawaii from the Jones Act that would result in lower constructions costs and allow for new tonnage and more ships to serve Hawaii; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-seventh Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2013, the House of Representatives concurring, that this body respectfully requests the Congress of the United States to pass legislation granting an exemption or a sunset waiver from the Jones Act to Hawaii; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this body respectfully requests the President of the United States and his administration to support the Congressional legislation requested herein; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Hawaii's congressional delegation is urged to request Congress to exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, Vice President of the United States, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, and members of Hawaii's Congressional delegation.