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Constitutional Convention (ConCon): To Have or Not to Have? That’s the Nov 08 Ballot Question for Hawaii Voters JoAnn Maruoka League of Women Voters of Hawaii 28 May 2008. BRAVA!. We applaud and encourage your interest in public service.

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Constitutional Convention (ConCon):

To Have or Not to Have?

That’s the Nov 08 Ballot Question for Hawaii Voters

JoAnn Maruoka

League of Women Voters of Hawaii

28 May 2008


We applaud and encourage

your interest in public service

The League of Women Voters (LWV)strictlyNon-Partisan


  • National + 900 state & local Leagues

  • Original grassroots citizen network,

    consensus of women & men members

  • LWV-HI is statewide, comprised of county

    Leagues: Honolulu, Hawaii Is., Kauai, & Maui

LWV-HINeutral on ConCon

  • Input from Interviews, Surveys of various external

    leaders (pros & cons split)

  • Members have strong but differing views, so no

    LWV-HI consensus

  • Rather than position advocacy, our focus is educating

    & informing electorate: forums, debates on wide media

  • Constitution, background, pros/cons on our website

    Add Your Voice(website or email)

So… ConCon

So What?

Why a ballot question?

What’s all the buzz?

Why should I care?

Am. federal system rests on 2 constitutional pillars:

the 50 state constitutions & the U.S. Constitution

U.S. - supreme law of the United States of America

State - governing document of that U.S. state

Constitutions are fundamental law

Constitutions and Law

  • Constitutional Law isbased on a formal document that defines broad powers

  • Federal originates from US Constitution

  • State originates from individual state constitution

  • Statutes & Ordinances are legislation

  • passed at the federal, state, or local level

Constitutional v. Statutory Law

State Constitutions

Limit the powers of the state government

Contain much more detail (id specific limitations

on otherwise virtually unlimited gov’t power)

Contain long articles on taxation and finance, 2 of

the most important functions of any government

Allow for more citizen involvement in their drafting

& amendments; they are easier to amend

Hawaii constitution 18 articles
Hawaii Constitution: 18 Articles

I Bill of Rights

II Suffrage & Elections

III The Legislature

IV Reapportionment

V The Executive

VI The Judiciary

VII Taxation & Finance

VIII Local Government

IX Public Health & Welfare

X Education

XI Conservation, Control & Development of Resources

XII Hawaiian Affairs

XIII Organization; Collective Bargaining

XIV Code of Ethics

XV State Boundaries, Capital, State Flag, Language & Motto

XVI General & Miscellaneous Provisions

XVII Revision & Amendment

XVIII Schedule

Constitutional Change

In democracies, constitutional change occurs 2 ways, by altering:

Meaning of the document thru interpretation, or

Text of the document thru amendment or revision

U.S. Constitution: change thru interpretation


State constitutions: formal change (amendments,

revision) far more frequent than at national level

State Constitutional Change

All state constitutions permit amendments to be formally

proposed by state legislatures – this is most common

method of constitutional change

25 state constitutions expressly provide amendment

methods to be proposed without legis participation, by:

popular petition (constitutional initiative); state

constitutional commission; or constitutional convention

Hawaii’s is 1 of 14 state constitutions providing for

automatic periodic placement on ballot of whether

ConCon should be held (HI every 10 yr, others 16-20 yr)

What is a ConCon?

A convention of delegates elected to examine, discuss & propose to voters amendments to the state Constitution

Constitutional convention (ConCon) is the oldest & most traditional method for extensive revision

Changing Hawaii’s Constitution

Amendments may be proposed to voters by legislature or by a ConCon

  • To pass an amendment or convene a ConCon = “majority of

    ballots cast,” which means ‘yes’ votes at least 50% of all

    ballots cast (including ‘no’ votes, blank & spoiled ballots)

  • Article XVII: ConCon question to the people every 10 years

  • Legis may submit to voters at any gen. or special election

  • Because last election when question submitted to voters

    was 1998, it will be on the ballot in Nov 2008

Hawaii’s Constitutional Changes

Legislature-proposed constitutional amendments:

  • 68 since Statehood, 49 of which were adopted

    Hawaii has had 3 ConCons (1950, 1968, & 1978); of

    ConCon-proposed constitutional amendments, voters:

  • ratified Constitution ppsd by 1950 ConCon

  • adopted 22 of 23 amendments ppsd by 1968 ConCon

  • adopted all 33 amendments ppsd by 1978 ConCon

Hawaii Constitution & ConCons

1950: Produced State Constitution to demonstrate to Congress & the nation that citizens of Territory of Hawaii ready to be full members of the union of states (63 delegates)

1968: Primarily needed to address apportionment problem of Legis because of “1 person - 1 vote" ruling by U.S. Supreme Court; add’l outcomes (82 delegates, McKinley High School)

1978: No compelling legal reasons, “good gov’t” advocates felt many issues needed review, 74% passage; many outcomes (102 delegates, Old Federal Bldg)

1986, 1998voters rejected a convention

To get estimated costs of convening a ConConin case of affirmative vote: Legislature passed resolution authorizing Legis Ref Bureau (LRB) to conduct a study; results by Sep 1Governor announced separate 11-member ConCon Cost Task Force chaired by Lt Gov to consider a range of factors in determining cost; it will hold a series of public meetings & release findings by Aug 1LWV-HI view: if ConCon passes, imperative that ConCon be adequately funded, given enough time to do thorough review, be open to ensure full public access & participation

Costof ConCon

Review our Constitution, see Pros & Cons, Info Forums, DebatesConsider what you think is important:Fatal flaws in current? Something needed but missing?Constitution responsive to changing world? Need to modernize it? Need to re-examine fundamental structure of state, local govts? Need to relook balance of power among exec, legis, judic? Other issues?State constitutional politics dominated by 3 crucial issues: distribution of power among groups & regions within state; scope ofstate & localgovernmental authority; relation of state to economic activity(G.A. Tarr)

On the Question of a ConCon

Must be the People’s Convention DebatesMany Actions, Also OpportunitiesLegislature responsible, subject to ground rules Election of DelegatesPreparing Delegates for the TasksConvening ConConResults voted on by the people

If ConCon Question Passes

If concon question passes
If ConCon Question Passes Debates

Work of next legislature will be very important

  • Legis decides # delegates, areas from which elected

  • Legis provides convention funding (salaries, facilities, equipment)

    Vital that public get involved, express their views

    For ConCon itself, citizen participation,

    by running for delegates or being active

    observers, is critical to ensure it truly be

    the People’s Convention

We wish you the best of luck as you get ready to run tm
We Wish You the Best of Luck Debatesas YOU get Ready to Runtm

Please join us in making a difference we re the league of women voters of hawaii
Please Join Us in DebatesMaking a DifferenceWe’re the League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Questions? Debates