Do we need a ConCon? Let's count the whys
T IS 18 months away, but it is not too soon to start hoping.
How many reasons do we have for needing a state Constitutional Convention?
First, there are 17 state departments and the University of Hawaii. How are they doing? Could they stand to be reorganized, streamlined or changed?
How many times have you thought the state's ethics regulations could be tighter, how many times have you thought corporations shouldn't be able to lock up the votes of a politician, or, if you are a politician or are related to one, how many times have you thought our ethics laws need to be trimmed?
So what is it going to take to get you into this fun-to-run, 2010 Constitutional Convention?
The framers of Hawaii's Constitution figured out that voters should be asked every 10 years whether they want another ConCon.
So start thinking about it now. One of the questions on next year's ballot will be, "Should the state hold a Constitutional Convention?"
As the 2007 Legislature clunks to an ending next week, now is the time to start hoping for change.
The cracks in state government have been showing up since we last had a ConCon in 1978.
In 1996, the voters said "yes" to another convention. But the courts ruled that constitutional questions had to win by a majority that counted blank votes as no votes.
Back then the call for a ConCon won by only 3,000 votes, so a simple majority was not good enough. Unions, fearing that a ConCon might, among other things, hurt public employee members, fought the majority victory in court and won.
Mark Bennett, now our attorney general, had argued for the simple majority and also lobbied for a bill calling for a second ConCon vote.
State issues that were up for discussion then have changed. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a viable part of Hawaii's political landscape and is not as threatened as supporters felt a decade ago.
Ten years ago those on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue were spoiling for a fight and a ConCon looked like a vicious battle ground.
Today there are other issues to resolve. How should our public education system function, do parents and taxpayers have enough input?
What about taxes, how should they be assessed? And what about our elections, clean enough?
ConCon can't come soon enough.