September 2007 Home   Newsletters

February 2008

Can Can we Con Con?
Kaua'i Path - advocates for access (Lisa Ellen Smith)
Kauai League Meetings Ahead
Con Con Consideration Capsule (Carol Bain)
Multi-Use Path Etiquette (Lisa Ellen Smith)
League Seeks Board Candidates
Scholarship Contestants Sought
League Welcomes New Members
Supreme Court Overturns OIP Decision (Carol Bain)

Con Con Consideration Capsule

Some of our voters may never have read our State Constitution (or our County Charter). Those who have access to the intemet may find the document: http:llhawaii.govilrbiconi It is Artde kill that actually defines the process of bringing the question of the Constitutional Convention forward, which states:

Section 2. The legislature may submit to the electorate at any general or special election the question. "Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?" If any nine-year period shall elapse during which the question shall not have been submitted, the lieutenant governor shall certify the question, to be voted on at the first general election following the expiration of such period.

This question will be on the fall 2008 General Election ballot. Hawaii is one of 14 states that periodically asks voters whether they want a constitutional convention, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The next section in Article XVII states that the legislature will decide how delegates are chosen. A likely way to select delegates is to allow one or two from each State House district.

BACKGROUND

-1998 Hawaii LWV Position:

The members of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii, after careful study and evaluation of information, have reached consensus that a state constitutional convention in 1998 is neither necessary nor desirable. Along with many members of the public, League members see many issues that might be addressed by a convention. However, our consensus is the arguments for holding one at this time are outweighed by the reasons for not having one.

-Excerpt from Mark Niesse, Associated Press article 1/26108:

"Hawaii previously held constitutional conventions in 1950, 1968 and 1978, when delegates formed the Office of Hawaii Affairs to promote the rights, language and culture of the islands' indigenous people.

Slightly more people voted -yes' than no fora convention in 1996, but the courts later ruled that blank votes counted as "no* votes, thus defeating the Measure. It failed again in 1998 at the urging of Native Hawaiians, unions and civil rights groups after the Legislature put the question on the ballot.

Creating a new constitution could invigorate voters in a state where turnout hit record lows in 2006, when about 53 percent of registered voters and only a third of state residents went to the polls, said state Sen. Les Ihara, D-Kahala-Palolo.

"A good segment of our community feels like they're not invested and do not have a sense of ownership of our government," said lhara. who was a delegate to the 1976 convention. They feel like they're outsiders."

Many are still concerned that civil liberties and native Hawaiian issues will be impacted. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was created at the 1978 convention.

Much as been written about the 1978 convention, and one of the best things that can be said is that leadership sprung forth from the event. Should a con-con be passed by Hawaii voters in 2008, the State Legislature will immediately begin to discuss how delegates will be chosen,

IDEA: To encourage new leadership, one idea is to have a "youth ticket" so one delegate chosen will be, perhaps, 35 years or younger, and another "experienced ticket" may be over that age

In 2008, interested groups are beginning to again meet and discuss the possibilities. Many think the time now has come for a major revision of our State Constitution. Besides the positive aspect of encouraging new leadership, here is an incomplete bullet list of Pros"

  • Potential of reforming the educational system toward decentralization (Hawaii is the only state remaining that still has a centralized system with stale control over budget)

  • Potential to bring government reforms resulting in a smaller state government and greater "home rule", i.e., requiring decision making closer to those affected, such as land use decisions, establishment of municipalities, and initiative, referendum and recall with adequate thresholds. etc.

  • Potential to highlight sustainability issues that can bring a greater stability and less vulnerability to Hawaii's economic system.

Incomplete list of Cons:

  • Business and management interests will take over and possibly force a 'right to work' clause that could impact the labor union members.

  • Under the guise of 'values', the civil liberties of individuals may be redefined by one dominating belief over others who may not share that belief.

  • Any restructuring of the constitution will give native right opponents an opportunity to alter the state created OHA. (Current constitution recognizes the rights of native Hawaiians to native lands.) SURVEY STILL UNDERWAY: Become involved and read all the opinions and ideas in circulation. The Honolulu League will publish the results of their survey soon.

    "Most of all please remember that with true dedication, committed citizens can work together to change our country and even the world." Jennifer Zappey winner of 2005 LWV Kaua'i Scholarship.

    Carol Bain

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