12 May 2015

Living Hawaii: The Jones Act Pays Off — in Politics

Civil Beat

The state’s delegation in Washington, D.C., enjoys outsized donations from maritime lobbyists, but several members told Civil Beat this doesn't affect their stances.

People have argued over the impact of the Jones Act — a 95-year-old piece of protectionist maritime legislation — for many years.

Is it good or bad for the economy? National security? Or jobs? The answers often seem to depend on who you talk to and which data they cherry pick to make their points.

Remarkably, there has been no definitive, objective study on the Jones Act’s impact on prices in America’s most expensive state, as three of Hawaii’s representatives in Washington, D.C. — Sen. Brian Schatz and Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai — noted in recent interviews with Civil Beat.

So there is no way to know whether people in Hawaii pay a reasonable price for the Jones Act, or whether the state should ask Congress for permission to grant these remote islands an exemption from the law’s cost-boosting requirements for cargo transportation.

In at least one way, though, the Jones Act is a moneymaker. Supporting it is good business — for politicians.


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