Changes to Hawaii fuel-cap bill still pending

| Friday, April 16, 2004

The Hawaii House of Representatives has given final approval to a proposal that would delay the start of the state’s unique fuel price cap law for another year to further study its impact and make any additional changes.

House lawmakers passed the measure April 9, sending it back to the Senate to consider changes. It will likely then head to Gov. Linda Lingle for final approval.

Sen. Ron Mercer, D-Mililani, introduced the amended price-cap formula to ease Hawaii’s inflated fuel prices by tying the prices to a weekly national average instead of a West Coast benchmark, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported.

The new cap was brought before the Legislature in response to a gas cap law approved by lawmakers in 2002, but doesn’t go into effect until July of this year.

Last summer, prices in the Western United States rose above Hawaii’s average, meaning the law would have driven prices up had it been in effect.

The new version would take a less volatile national spot price, as reported by the Oil Price Information Service. Mercer’s proposal – SB3193 – also removes the cap on retail gas and extends the wholesale price ceiling to all grades of gasoline and diesel fuel, not just for regular unleaded, as currently provided.

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