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House moves to repeal gas cap

On the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that gas prices will climb 14 cents next week, the Hawai’i Legislature opened a conference committee Wednesday to discuss House Bill 3115, an outright repeal of the gas cap law proposed by the House of Representatives.

“We’re kind of taking a step back to work on transparency,” Rep. Hermina Morita (D-Kaua’i) said. “We’re hoping a watchdog approach to the market will help benefit the consumer.”

Rep. Morita is one of four House co-chairs on the 10-member committee.

In the interest of transparency in the oil industry, the committee is also proposing several changes to the Public Utilities Commission’s petroleum monitoring program. Most of the changes deal with a more frequent and open flow of information to prevent unfair profiteering and illegal pricing practices.

“One of the problems we’ve encountered is to know exactly who the players are and the appropriate margins,” Morita said.

Despite the action, Morita did lay the blame in only one place.

“People have to understand oil prices are sky high,” she said. “You’ve got to look at the supply side and the geopolitical side. You can’ t just blame the gas cap.”

In the end, however, committee members thought the system could not continue as is.

“If you’re going to regulate, you need the proper information,” Morita said.

The conferees are expected to discuss their differences on the gas cap law throughout the week.

Monday will mark the third significant increase in gas prices in as many weeks. Since April 10, gas prices have creased 41 cents.

Regular unleaded gasoline on Kauai should reach $3.55 per gallon next week.

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