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Rhode Island Constitution

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Rhode Island Constitution
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Articles
PreambleIIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXV
The Rhode Island Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Rhode Island.

Features

The Rhode Constitution describes the structure and function of the government of Rhode Island. It consists of a preamble followed by 15 articles.[1]

Preamble

See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Rhode Island Constitution states:

We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government.[1]

Article I: Declaration of Certain Constitutional Rights and Principles

Article I of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled "Declaration of Certain Constitutional Rights and Principles" and consists of 24 sections.

Article II: Suffrage

Article II of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of "Suffrage" and consists of two sections.

Article III: Of Qualification for Office

Article III of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of "Qualification for Office" and consists of eight sections.

Article IV: Of Elections and Campaign Finance

Article IV of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of "Elections and Campaign Finance" and consists of ten sections.

Article V: Of the Distribution of Powers

Article V of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of the "Distribution of Powers" and consists of only one section.

Article VI: Of the Legislative Power

Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of the "Legislative Power" and consists of 22 sections.

Article VII: Of the House of Representatives

Article VII of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of the "House of Representatives" and consists of two sections.

Article VIII: Of the Senate

Article VIII of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled Of the "Senate" and consists of four sections.

Article IX: Of the Executive Power

Article IX of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled of the "Executive Power" and consists of 17 sections.

Article X: Of the Judicial Power

Article X of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled of the "Judicial Power" and consists of seven sections.

Article XI: Of Impeachments

Article XI of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled of "Impeachments" and consists of three sections.

Of Education

Article XII of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled "Of Education" and consists of four sections.

Home Rule for Cities and Towns

Article XIII of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled "Home Rule for Cities and Towns" and consists of eleven sections.

Constitutional Amendments and Revision

Article XIV of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled "Constitutional Amendments and Revisions" and consists of two sections.

General Transition

Article XV of the Rhode Island Constitution is entitled "General Transition" and consists of four sections.

Amending the constitution

Main article: Article XIV, Rhode Island Constitution

There are two paths by which the Rhode Island Constitution can be changed, the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and the constitutional convention.

Section 1 of Article 14 explains how the Rhode Island General Assembly can initiate the process of amendment:

  • Amendments may be proposed "by a roll call vote of a majority of the members elected to each house."
  • The proposed amendment "shall be published in such manner as the general assembly shall direct."
  • Votes on amendments take place only at general elections.
  • If a simple majority of voters approve the amendment, it goes into the constitution.

Section 2 of Article 14 is about constitutional conventions:

  • The question, "Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution?," can go on the ballot if approved by a simple majority of the members of both houses of the state's general assembly.
  • If the question hasn't appeared on the ballot at any time in a given ten-year period, the Rhode Island Secretary of State must place it on the ballot as an automatic ballot referral.
  • If the state's voters by a simple majority vote to hold a convention, then a convention shall be held.

Rhode Island has a unique provision about elections on the constitutional convention question. It is, "Prior to a vote by the qualified electors on the holding of a convention, the general assembly, or the governor if the general assembly fails to act, shall provide for a bi-partisan preparatory commission to assemble information on constitutional questions for the electors." This means that before the vote is held, a preparatory commission must be created to do some groundwork for a convention, if the state's voters choose to hold one.

History

On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first American colony to renounce its allegiance to King George III. Ironically, Rhode Island would be the last state to ratify the United States Constitution more than 14 years later on May 29, 1790.[2]

Rhode Island did not adopt a state constitution until November 1842, which become effective in May 1843. Prior to this time, the state was governed by the original royal charter granted in 1663. Rhode Island functioned as a parliamentary form of government, in which the legislature held all of the power. This remained in force until 2005.[3]

See also

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External links

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References