A bill to amend the Steamship Authority enabling act came under sharp criticism from county leaders on the Vineyard and Nantucket in a rare meeting between the two Islands early this week.

The legislation filed by state Rep. Dylan Ferndandes and Sen. Julian Cyr would impose term limits on board members and require a chief operating officer to be added to senior management.

The provision to hire a COO became a moot point last month when SSA governors voted to create the position.

At a hearing Monday hosted by the Nantucket and Dukes County commissioners, the chief complaint was around the process, since Island officials were not consulted before the bill was filed.

“I heartily agree that the process is flawed,” Nantucket county commissioner Melissa Murphy said. “And I frankly think there’s flaws in the legislation.”

Neither Mr. Cyr nor Mr. Fernandes attended the hearing held over Zoom, but legislative liaisons for Nantucket and the Vineyard represented Mr. Fernandes.

Kaylea Moore, legislative liaison for the Vineyard, said the bill was filed as a response to the 2018 SSA independent management study, commissioned after a string of spring ferry cancellations and breakdowns that year.

Ms. Moore said Representative Fernandes’s office has continued to receive complaints about the boat line following the study and report.

“This past summer we even received a petition,” she said.

But with the matter of hiring a COO now done, the remaining provision in the bill is to impose nine-year term limits for governors. Ms. Moore said that provision was added to the bill in order to curtail complacency.

Dukes County commissioner Tristan Israel pushed back against the term limits, saying the Islands should have the right to decide how long a governor stays on the board.

“The governor is our face, in some ways, to the outside world,” Mr. Israel said. He added that what’s left of the bill now that the SSA will install a chief operating officer has little to do with the ferry line’s failings in 2018.

Vineyard boat line governor James Malkin returned to the process.

“What most concerns me . . . is the manner with which this legislation has been handled,” he said, criticizing Representative Fernandes and Senator Cyr for filing the legislation without holding any forums or hearings for Islanders.

“Because the process is not democratic,” Mr. Malkin said. “I would say it’s autocratic.”

Nantucket SSA governor Rob Ranney echoed the sentiment. He said when the SSA enabling act was written, its framers intended for the Islands to have strong influence over the ferry line.

“The people who created it thought we should be in charge ourselves,” Mr. Ranney said.

Some at the meeting voiced support for the legislation. Dukes county commissioner Leon Braithwaite said he didn’t feel legislators overstepped any bounds.

Joy Robinson-Lynch, a longtime Island resident, voiced concerns that the SSA isn’t being adequately governed, describing frequent ferry cancellations and breakdowns as a recent phenomenon.

“All of you who are speaking about process today, where’s your process to keep the Steamship Authority accountable?” Ms. Robinson-Lynch said.

But elected leaders largely stuck to their positions, deciding to draft a joint letter of concern to Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Cyr.

“I don’t see why this legislation isn’t pulled at this point,” Mr. Israel said.