Bills seek to organize ConCon
If voters this fall approve, Hawaii could be holding a state Constitutional Convention next year, but so far no one has drawn up the ground rules.
Legislators are proposing that if a ConCon is approved by voters this fall, the election for delegates will become a proving ground for several new ideas.
Sen. Les Ihara, who was a delegate to the last ConCon held in 1978, and Rep. Della Au Belatti, a freshman Makiki Democrat, are both introducing a bill package to organize a possible convention.
"The more the public knows about what this ConCon could look like, the better," Belatti said.
Both Ihara and Belatti support a convention.
"We want to encourage grass-roots organizing and having the community talk about broad constitutional issues," said Ihara (D, Kaimuki-Palolo).
"The purpose of the ConCon is to open up a statewide conversation about the constitutional principles underlying our government," Ihara said.
The ConCon proponents, however, disagree on who should run to be a delegate. Ihara says the ConCon delegates should not be incumbent politicians.
Belatti disagrees, saying that the ConCon should have a mix.
"It should be a good mix. In a ConCon, there is a need to include people who understand how government runs, so I don't think incumbents should be barred," Belatti said.
In fact, the lawyer and former member of the Campaign Spending Commission said she is considering running for ConCon if it is approved by voters in November.
"I have been asked if I would run for ConCon and I said I would consider it, because that is how important the ConCon is," Belatti said.
The bills the two are supporting include Senate Bill 2607, which would provide for full public funding for candidates to a ConCon, which means the candidates would not raise money from special-interest donors, in return for the state paying their campaign expenses.
"It would encourage competition," Ihara said.
"When you have competition, it excites the voters."
Another bill, SB 2616, would allow the election to be held by mail ballots only, which supporters say will save money and help lower the cost of the convention.