Thursday, October 18, 2007


Legislators can pass a bill but they can't pass the buck

by Larry Geller

The current draft Superferry bill and recent press coverage indicate that the Legislature might leave it to the Governor to set criteria for monitoring the Superferry's passage through our whale-rich waters.

I spent some time at the Capitol this afternoon and heard over and over again that it's up to the Governor to set the operating conditions for the ferry to sail.

Maybe that's why politicians hold caucuses—so they can all repeat the party line.

But it won't work. Regardless of what the gov does, the responsibility for any new law intended to bypass environmental protections and overrule the courts rests not with the Governor but with the legislators who vote for it.

If anything happens, for example if there's a whale incident, legislators may quickly learn that the blame won't be placed on the Governor. It will be legislators' fault that the whale gets hit. Nor will the law protect the state if the feds are involved.

If a new invasive species threatens a Neighbor Island, it will be blamed on the legislators representing that place if they voted for this unfortunate bill.

Really, our state legislators are proving that they can pass almost anything, but they can't pass the buck.

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