The Hawaiʻi

State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse

Information Related to Hawaiʻi's November 6, 2018 State Constitutional Convention Referendum

Opeds

Yes

De Gracia, Danny, We Don’t Need Our Political Leaders Hovering Over Us, Civil Beat, October 1, 2018. The author also very briefly endorses a convention in Want To Pay Teachers More? Let Private Donors Pitch In, Civil Beat, October 8, 2018.

Palmer, Jesse, How To Fix Hawaii’s Broken Democracy, Civil Beat, May 21, 2018.

Orden, Tim, Who’s Afraid Of A Constitutional Convention?, Civil Beat, January 4, 2018.

Higa, Sterling, Calling For A Constitutional Convention, Civil Beat, May 18, 2017.

Chang, Kendrick, The Legislature Has Forgotten Hawaii’s Constitutional Values, Civil Beat, June 25, 2014.

No

Perreira, Randy, Don’t let outside special interests ruin Hawaii’s Constitution, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, October 18, 2018.

Chang, Kendrick, When Voting On ConCon, Consider Today’s Political Climate, Civil Beat, October 16, 2018.

Lee, Anne Feder, Say no to constitutional convention, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, October 14, 2018. J.H. Snider provided the following comment to Ms. Feder’s op-ed:

As she did before the last ConCon referendum in 2008, Anne Feder Lee has provided us with an excellent summary of the no coalition’s talking points, including that of her own former government employee union. If the past is a reliable guide, millions of dollars will be spent promoting these talking points between now and Nov. 6, including in ads featuring Ms. Lee.

“The estimated cost of a Hawaii Constitutional Convention (ConCon), if approved by voters at the Nov. 6 election is $56 million. Yes, that’s right: $56 million.”

Hawaii’s last ConCon in 1978 cost $2.03 million. In current dollars, that sum would be $7.7 million. Ms. Lee appears to be extrapolating from the Legislative Reference Bureau’s 2008 report requested by the Legislature’s leadership to provide ammunition to ConCon opponents. That report estimated that in 2012 dollars a ConCon would cost between $7.5 million and $48.8 million. The $56 million figure appears to be an extrapolation from the upper bound $48.8 million figure. Even then, Ms. Lee is only quoting LRB’s upper bound. A competing 2008 report published by a workgroup organized by Hawaii’s Lt. Governor found LRB’s cost estimates wildly inflated.

ConCon opponents refuse to acknowledge the costs associated with Hawaii’s deficient democratic accountability mechanisms. For example, polls show that the public believes a large fraction of Hawaii’s $7.2 billion annual operating budget ($72 billion over the ten-year period between ConCon referendums) is wasted. For example, consider public views of waste associated with Hawaii’s rail project, now estimated at ~$10 billion. In this context, a ConCon’s cost is a mere rounding error.

“We should not wait until a ConCon takes place to discover what issues rise up…. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

For a discussion of the many legislative bypass issues that have been proposed—none of which Ms. Lee has acknowledged–see The Hawai’i State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse’s Legislative Bypass Issues page.

Hooser, Gary, A Constitutional Convention? If in doubt, vote no, The Garden Island, October 10, 2018.

Perruso, Amy, Hawaii doesn’t need a Constitutional Convention, The Garden Island, October 2, 2018. The Garden Island published a letter on October 7 with a factual correction provided by the Grassroot Institute: “The guest commentary ‘Hawaii doesn’t need con con given political climate’ (Oct. 2) recently published in The Garden Island erroneously stated that the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii ‘is pushing for a ConCon (Constitutional Convention).’ The Grassroot Institute has not taken a position on the proposed Constitutional Convention, slated to go before Hawaii voters Nov. 6.”

Coffman, Tom, State Constitution doesn’t need change, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, September 30, 2018.

Hooser, Gary, I’m Voting No On The Con Con, Civil Beat, September 24, 2018.

Mason, Janet, Some Issues Don’t Require A Constitutional Convention, Honolulu Civil Beat, January 8, 2018. A mixed point of view, but mostly emphasizing the downsides of a constitutional convention.

Lanier, Albert, Why A Constitutional Convention Is Unnecessary, Honolulu Civil Beat, December 22, 2017.

Other

Viotti, Vicki, A constitutional convention could spark visionary policies,but lackluster citizen demand dampens urgency for one now, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, October 21, 2018.

Yamachika, Tom, How the general income tax credit became history, The Garden Island, October 14, 2018.

Shapiro, David, Putting school tax on ballot lets unions sidestep debate, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, October 14, 2018.

Blair, Chad, I Read Hawaii’s Constitution So You Don’t Have To, Civil Beat, October 5, 2018. HawaiiConCon.info comment:

“Here’s another unusual feature of the state constitution: In 1998, Hawaii voters gave the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples (Article 1, section 23). The Legislature soon followed suit, essentially writing discrimination into our sacred text. In 2013, the Legislature finally made same-sex marriage legal through statute. But the Hawaii Constitution was not amended. The U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land in 2014.”

I would call this an interesting but not unusual feature. Obsolete provisions in state constitutions are quite common. One reason is that federal law trumps (no pun intended) state law, including state constitutional law. Thus, when the U.S. Supreme Court made its same-sex ruling, it invalidated that section of Hawaii’s Constitution.

Another reason is that it usually doesn’t seem to be in anyone’s interest to remove such obsolete and misleading sections from a state constitution. An exception is a state constitutional convention, where such language is routinely cleaned up.

Borreca, Richard, Much to discuss in Constitutional Convention — if voters can muster hope and engagement, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, September 23, 2018.  HawaiiConCon.info comment:

“Every 10 years since then, voters are asked if they want another convention and not once has it passed.”

Not quite. It passed in 1996 with a majority voting yes on the question and was initially certified by the elections office as having passed. The opponents then challenged that certification and won before Hawaii’s Supreme Court. For a discussion of that highly politicized ruling (Hawaii’s Supreme Court may have been even more politicized than the U.S. Supreme Court), see The People v. Hawaii Supreme Court.

Adler, Peter, and Jenna Leigh Saito, Political Volatility Could Affect Hawaii Constitutional Convention Question, Honolulu Civil Beat, June 8, 2018.

Adler, Peter, and Jenna Leigh Saito, What A Constitutional Convention Might Cost Hawaii Taxpayers, Honolulu Civil Beat, June 7, 2018.

Adler, Peter, and Jenna Leigh Saito, Before Deciding On A New Constitutional Convention, Consider Those Held Before, Honolulu Civil Beat, June 6, 2018.

Adler, Peter, and Jenna Leigh Saito, Should We Open The Door To Changing How State Government Runs?, Honolulu Civil Beat, June 5, 2018.

Craft, Victor, Group Puts Constitutional Convention Question Under A Microscope, Honolulu Civic Beat, April 9, 2018.

Borreca, Richard, Holding new ConCon would be prime opportunity to hold high-spending OHA to its mission, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Feb. 18, 2018. Also published in Hawaii Free Press.

Lowenthal, Ben, The State of Aloha, The Maui News, December 29, 2017.

Yamachika, Tom, What’s At Stake In A Hawaii Con Con, Honolulu Civic Beat, December 24, 2017. Also published as Yamachika, Tom,  Constitutional Convention, Hawai’i Free Press, December 24, 2017 and Yamachika, Tom,  Constitutional Convention, Hawaii Reporter, December 25, 2017.+

Palmer, Jesse, Let’s Stop Voting For The Lesser Of Two Evils, Honolulu Civic Beat, December 8, 2017.

Borreca, Richard, Unlike watershed Con Con in 1978, complacency is today’s attitude on political activism, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, September 3, 2017.

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