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League of Women Voters of Hawaii

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Initiative and Referendum


Action to support direct initiative for statute law, and petition referendum to give citizens the right to affirm or overturn laws passed by the legislature.


Citizens should have the power of direct legislation to affect the laws which govern them. Toward this end, we support the direct initiative to propose statute law. We support retaining the compulsory referendum for constitutional amendment, and favor the petition referendum to allow citizens to affirm or reject laws passed by the legislature.

Laws governing the use of the initiative and referendum should be made difficult enough to discourage frivolous use, but not so restrictive as to be too formidable. There should be adequate constitutional safeguards protecting the enabling mechanism.

We further believe that the veto power of the governor should not extend to laws passed by initiative or referendum, and that it should be difficult for the legislature to overturn or amend a measure passed by direct legislation.

(Consensus, November 1977)


At its 1975 state convention, the League began gearing up for the 1978 Constitutional Convention (Con Con) by adopting a resolution on program priorities which called for widening the areas of study under the national Representative Government position, to include those items that might be considered for the constitutional convention. Study was initiated on initiative and referendum and on unicameralism; and a position was reached in support of direct initiative and petition referendum.

The League lobbied for initiative and referendum at the 1978 Con Con. We participated with other community organizations in a petition drive for the initiative, and appeared on a television panel and radio talk show on the subject. When it became obvious that direct initiative would not carry, the League gave its support to indirect initiative. However, the Con Con voted by a small margin not to put initiative and referendum on the ballot.

During succeeding legislative sessions, the League has continued to urge the legislature to place an initiative measure on the ballot. When it became clear that direct initiative had no chance, we gave our support to a Common Cause proposal for indirect initiative. However, it has always failed to pass in one house or the other.

In 1983 the League started to work with a coalition, The Initiative Committee, whose goal was the placing of an initiative measure on the ballot. As yet our efforts have not been successful. In 1985 the worst of several initiative bills under consideration was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee by initiative supporters who felt it would be worse than nothing.

Facts and Issues: Initiative and Referendum. League of Women Voters of Hawaii 1977


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