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Hawaii Constitutional Convention, Question 1 (2008)

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A Hawaii Constitutional Convention Question to determine whether to hold a constitutional convention was on the November 2008 Hawaiian ballot as an automatic ballot referral where it was defeated.

The question before voters was, "Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?"

There are two ways this question can be on the ballot: if the Hawaii Legislature votes to place in on the ballot, or automatically if ten years have passed since the question was last submitted to the voters. The question last appeared in 1998, where it was defeated with 34.1% in favor, so it is automatically on the ballot in 2008.[1]

Election results

Hawaii Constitutional Convention
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No281,41865%
Yes 152,453 35%

Text of measure

The measure read as follows:

Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?[2]

Supporters

Supporters included:

  • Governor Linda Lingle[4]

Editorial support:

  • Honolulu Star Bulletin[5]

Arguments in favor

Dan Douglass, the Hawaii State Coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 PCC and HD31 Chair Hawaii GOP, has argued in favor of the Con Con as follows:

  • A constitutional convention can serve as a public audit, forum and session to correct where special interests have misled or harmed our state whether intentional or not.
  • A Con Con should address tax relief, create local school boards (currently, there are no local school boards in the state), and tort reform.
  • The judicial selection process should be amended. Article VI Sec. 4 states: "The deliberations of the commission shall be confidential." There must be openness in this commission for the sake of public trust. If we don’t amend our process to elect judges as other states do (after weighing out the pros and cons), we must at the very least change the judicial selection process to be transparent.
  • A Con Con would be beneficial for the entire state by allowing residents an opportunity to be more directly involved in the decisions that govern them. For neighbor island residents, the potential benefits are even greater. There is the desire for greater local control over neighbor island schools and health facilities. A Con Con would provide a platform for these desires to be heard and lead to their possible incorporation into the constitution.

Opponents

Opponents included:

  • The Hawaii Alliance, a newly formed organization made up of labor unions and business groups.
  • Former Governor George Ariyoshi
  • Anne Feder Lee, the author of The Hawaii State Constitution and a former University of Hawaii professor.[7]

Arguments in opposition

  • According to a resolution by the Democratic Party of Hawaii's central committee, there is no relevant need for a Constitutional Convention.
  • The resolution also states that the Con Con would be unnecessarily expensive.

1978 constitutional convention

The last time a constitutional convention was held in Hawaii was 1978. The convention established term limits for state office holders, provided a requirement for an annual balanced budget, laid the groundwork for the return of federal land such as the island of Kahoʻolawe, and created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in an effort to right the wrongs done towards native Hawaiians since the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1893. The event also created an ambitious project of preservation of the Hawaiian culture including the adoption of Hawaiian diacritical marks for official usage, use of Hawaiian names, etc. The Hawaiian language became the official state language of Hawaiʻi for the first time since the overthrow.

See also

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