You can’t reason with hurricane season, but the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii did its best to help when the state was threatened by a Category 5 storm. As Hurricane Lane headed toward the islands in August, the Grassroot Institute sent an anticipatory request to President Trump that a Jones Act waiver be granted for Hawaii if the worst were to occur.
Sending a preliminary waiver request was — in part — a recognition of the fact that the state’s political leaders are heavily supported by Jones Act interests. The Jones Act lobby has opposed waivers in the past, and some of Hawaii’s policymakers might have avoided a waiver request for political reasons.
Fortunately, the storm did not cause as much damage, though it did hit Hawaii Island and Maui. But the question of whether the state would be granted a Jones Act waiver highlighted the fact that the Act is a constant barrier for trade and business, even when it is not a time of crisis.
Highlighting threats to the economy and the cost of living has become a theme of this election season for the Grassroot Institute. In recent weeks, Grassroot has launched a campaign to educate voters about a disturbingly vague constitutional amendment to raise property taxes to fund public education. A ballot measure that will be decided in November, the proposal is heavily backed by the unions and various advocacy groups. Grassroot has become one of the few outspoken critics of the measure, warning voters of the possible effect on rents, the cost of living, and the potential for more tax hikes.