December 18, 2001
Release #2001-20
Contact: Senator Sam Slom
Phone: 586-8424/396-1724



HONOLULU—Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom today congratulated Gov. Ben Cayetano on supporting an exemption to the 1920 federal Jones Act that would allow foreign-based ocean liners to operate interisland cruises in Hawaii.

"We congratulate the governor in his decision to approach Senator Dan Inouye for legislation supporting an exemption for cruise ships operating in Hawaiian and Alaskan waters. This has been our position for nearly a decade. We have to work together now to help expand the economy in traditional industries, as well as new and expanding opportunities such as the cruise industry. Hawaii needs to have a free, competitive business climate for the future," Slom said.

The governor changed his position on the Jones Act after American Classic Voyages shut down its Hawaii-based cruise operations when it filed for bankruptcy in September.

Last Sunday, the Norwegian cruise liner Norwegian Star, began the first of weekly cruises to the Hawaiian Islands. Owners of the ship say it will pump $90 million a year into the local economy. Currently, the 2,200-passenger ship must stop on Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati because U.S. law does not permit foreign vessels to carry passengers to U.S. ports unless they are connecting with a foreign port.

The Jones Act stipulates that only U. S. built, owned, and crewed ships can take on cargo between U. S. ports. The International Trade Commission estimates that consumers pay at least $4.2 billion more for goods annually because of higher shipping costs related to the Jones Act.

"Modifying the impact of the Jones Act is an excellent bipartisan opportunity reflecting bold, decisive action that will enhance Hawaii's job creation, industrial diversification, and economic stimulation for the present and in the future. It is the right time to do the right thing," said Slom.