Council Edition 2000 Home   Newsletters

Fall 2000

First Quarter Edition 2000

Proposed Constitutional Amendments
President's Message (Maile Bay)
Hawaii Elections Project (HEP) Has a New Executive Director
League's DV Studies Makes Headlines
Lighting the Candles to Peace
Millenium Anniversary to Remember (Anne Stokely)
On the Home Front (Honolulu)
On the Home Front - Big Island
On the Home Front - Kauai
Constitutional Amendment to Eliminate Unfair Provision
National Coalition Launches Campaign
Membership Directory

Constitutional Amendment to Eliminate Unfair Provision

Special Legislative Session Corrects Error

It took a great deal of commitment and hard work, but a loose coalition of various organizations and individuals managed to convince the reluctant top leadership of both houses of the legislature that a provision in the state constitution which is unfair to challengers in post-reapportionment elections must be corrected before the 2002 Elections.

To complicate matters, or maybe to the mutual benefit of both causes, as decision crunch time was a few days away, complaints about problems with the Privacy of Health information law enacted in the 2000 session surfaced. It didn't take much discussion to determine that this needed to be addressed immediately, not with the path for a special session paved by supporters of the constitutional amendment. Could this have been beneficial for the legislators themselves? The citizens had already accepted the need for a special session, so the Legislators were spared the public criticism that they undoubtedly would have had to endure under other circumstances.

On August 7, the Special Session of the Legislature convened to address the two issues. League and Common Cause were invited to testify before a pre-session briefing together with the Attorney General's Office and the Elections Office before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Then on August 7, hearings were held separately by both Judiciary Committees and the bills went through the normal legislative processes and culminated in the final reading on August 22.

The effort put into the call for a special session to correct the problem was a good example of democracy in action. What started with a small group representing a few organizations attracted active supporters and showed how a mobilized. public can persuade our decision makers to act. It was an effort that spanned several months. We held many meetings to discuss the problem, develop strategy, to assign responsibilities, etc. We spent May, June and July sending speakers to Neighborhood Boards to get their support in adopting a resolution calling for a special session. We talked to senators to get their signatures on support statements. We wrote letters to the newspapers, held press conferences, wrote letters to neighborhood board members to counter arguments advanced by the leadership of both houses against a special session. Many neighborhood chairs and other members wrote individual letters to both the House Speaker and the Senate President plus their own representatives. We received the advice and help of several attorneys who specialize in constitutional law. Senator Ihara was able to get the help of three renowned mainland attorneys.

Now our task is to motivate our voters to ratify this amendment. I don't expect voters to vote against it, but because the affirmative votes must equal at least 50% of all ballots cast in the election, we need to remind voters not to neglect voting on the question on the ballot. Remember that a blank ballot means a "no" vote.

Council Edition 2000 Home   Newsletters First Quarter Edition 2000