Ballot to ask Constitution question
Hawaii voters will decide next year whether a constitutional convention should be held to change the state Constitution.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona is endorsing the idea of changing the Constitution. According to the current Constitution, the question of whether to hold a convention to review the Constitution must be put on the ballot every 10 years. It falls to the lieutenant governor to direct the question be included.
"We need to take a fresh look at how we operate government," Aiona said yesterday during a news conference at the state Capitol.
Noting that Hawaii has not held a constitutional convention since 1978, Aiona said that voters younger than 30 have never known the experience of changing the Constitution.
"Our local community should have more say over the quality of their children's education and the type of services they receive.
"Our use of natural resources and open space should be managed so that future generations can raise their children in the same Hawaii that you and I grew up in," Aiona said. "And our citizens must be given more options to hold our government accountable."
The 1978 constitutional convention called for many changes to state government that are now considered the political norm, including limiting the governor and lieutenant governor to two consecutive terms, creating the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, creating a judicial commission to screen candidates for judgeships, requiring an annual balanced budget, establishing the tax rebate when the state runs a surplus and setting up a state water commission to control water use.
Speaker of the House Calvin Say called the state Constitution "a sacred document" that should not be changed easily. But Say added that he thinks it is a good idea to let the public vote on whether a change is needed.
"Either way I will be happy because the public will have spoken either for or against it," Say said.
The Senate's former president, Sen. Robert Bunda (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea), endorsed the idea of another convention, saying, "It is about time we had the issue on the ballot for a vote."
Bunda said Hawaii has changed much in the past 30 years and that many of Hawaii's laws need to be updated. "As a society we have gone from paper to digital and some laws are no longer applicable," he said.