Lawmakers mull alert task force
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers have approved a resolution calling on the state Department of Defense to assemble a task force to review issues surrounding January’s mistaken missile alert, which sent the public into a panic.
The state House adopted the concurrent resolution Thursday, prompting Democratic state Rep. Matt LoPresti to remind his colleagues that the Legislature’s response to the false alarm has been lackluster so far, the Honolulu StarAdvertiser reported.
A state Emergency Management Agency employee sent the alert Jan. 13 to cellphones and broadcasters, warning of a ballistic missile about to hit the islands. He believed a real attack was imminent but other workers understood it was an exercise.
A number of bills and resolutions related to the false alert have since entered the state Legislature, though several have failed to advance.
LoPresti took to the House floor to remind lawmakers of the legislation that failed, including a House bill that would have required businesses to allow people to take shelter on their premises during emergency warnings. The bill also would have provided liability protection to the businesses.
LoPresti said the legislation would have protected the businesses
from frivolous lawsuits while ensuring people are not forced into the streets during a shelter in place emergency.
“Those were really needed, and now they’re not going to be addressed,” LoPresti said. “There was a sense of urgency about all of this not too long ago, and now what are we left with? A resolution requesting that they maybe do something about these things and maybe form a task force. I mean, it’s really disappointing, and I think the people should expect more of their government.”
Democratic State Sen. Brian Taniguchi said legislation related to the alert should be addressed thoughtfully and not rushed.
“There isn’t a time limit on it,” Taniguchi said. “So, I think these are things that we should probably consider over a longer period of time.”
A screen grab from a Hawaii cellphone on Jan. 13 displays the false alarm ballistic missile alert sent out to more than a million people in the state.