Law­mak­ers mull alert task force

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

AP file photo

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.

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