Posted at 4:49 p.m., Friday, April 21, 2006
House told senators won't accept full repeal of gas cap
Associated PressSen. Ron Menor told House lawmakers today that senators will not accept a full repeal of the gas cap.
"We cannot support a complete repeal of our gas pricing regulation," said Menor, D-Mililani, who has been the gas cap's strongest legislative advocate.
House and Senate members met in a conference committee for the second time this afternoon to work out their differences over legislation to deal with the islands' petroleum industry.
During their last meeting, House conference committee members had proposed a complete repeal of the law, which went into effect Sept. 1. Earlier, the House had supported a temporary repeal with the expectation it would become permanent later.
Menor had agreed to that idea.
But he told House members today that while the Senate still supports suspension of the law that puts weekly caps on the wholesale price of gasoline in the state, the government needs some type of safeguard in case prices get too high in comparison with the rest of the nation.
Since the gas cap, which sets limits only on wholesale prices, Hawai'i consistently has had the highest pump prices in the nation. The average retail price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Hawai'i was $3.17 today, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The Senate remains open to considering what form that safeguard might take, Menor said.
In the Senate conferee's latest draft of the legislation presented to House committee members today, the gas cap would be suspended but the Public Utilities Commission would continue to calculate a theoretical gas cap each week.
The cap would kick in automatically if wholesalers' prices exceeded the prices calculated by the commission for four consecutive weeks.
Previous Senate drafts had put the threshold at two weeks.
Rep. Hermina Morita, D-Hanalei-Kapaa, said House members would review the Senate's newest version. The conference committee is set to meet again on Monday.