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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 1195

Proposing an
Amendment to Article XVII of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor (JDL) - chair: Hee, vice chair: Shimabukuro

Monday, February 7, 2011, 10:00 a,m. Conference Room 016

Testifier: Jean Aoki, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view SB1195

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly opposes SB 1195 which would make it much easier to amend the Constitution of the State of Hawaii.

State constitutions are meant to provide the structure of government, express certain principles we hold important, and to reserve certain rights to all of the people of this state. Whereas the Federal Constitution gives certain rights to the federal government, rights that our original thirteen colonies were willing to cede to this new national government, state constitutions put limitations on state governments. This is important because otherwise, government would be too powerful.

The Federal Constitution is very difficult to amend as we all realized when we tried to pass the Equal Rights Amendment which would have given women rights equal to those which men enjoy. State Constitutions are easier to amend, and while constitutions are supposed to be brief without detailed provisions better left for legislators to enact in the form of statutes, some states have gone overboard until their constitutions are too long and restrictive which makes governance difficult for legislators and the executive branch. Some of them need revision very badly, but are facing difficulty in doing so.

Hawaii's constitution is somewhere in the middle as far as length is concerned in comparison to that of other states. More amendments easier to ratify would mean more restrictions or maybe the removal of some restrictions . Whichever, changes should be only be made after careful consideration, and the more votes required for the changes, the less the prospect of dreadful errors of judgement.

Please hold this bill in committee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify.


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