The bipartisan push for a Jones Act exemption for Hawaii and other non-contiguous states is starting to receive more attention, both in Hawaii and around the world. Local media outlets like Pacific Business News have carried the story of the growing movement, and an Associated Press account of the effort has been picked up by news outlets as far flung as the Washington Post and the New Zealand Herald.
From Huffington Post (click here for the full story):
Lawmakers from Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Guam are teaming up to pressure the U.S. government for relief from a maritime law passed in the 1920s.
The Jones Act was designed to protect the domestic shipping industry. It states that only ships made in the U.S. and flying the country’s flags can deliver goods between U.S. ports.
That means that a cargo ship filled with goods from China can only make one stop in the U.S. at a time. It can’t stop in Hawaii to exchange goods before heading to Los Angeles.
Hawaii state Sen. Sam Slom says the law punishes the people of Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam and Hawaii with high costs of living.
Representatives from the impacted states and territories met in a videoconference Thursday.
Rep. Gene Ward of Hawaii said the state isn’t asking for much, just a waiver from the rules. “Having something made, flagged, and owned by America is obsolete,” said Ward, a Republican.
The cost of building ships in the U.S. is five times higher than constructing comparable ships in Japan and South Korea, said Michael Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shipper’s Council, an association that represents the interest of cargo owners. There also are far fewer ships built in the U.S. than abroad.
“The extraordinarily high cost of shipbuilding and the artificial shortage or commercial ships in the U.S. creates a narrow and highly concentrated domestic shipping market,” Hansen said.
The group agreed to stay in touch and meet again to coordinate efforts.
“The general population is utterly ignorant of either the Jones Act or its implications for us,” Dyson said. “We have a job to do to explain what the savings would be.”