Election 2002


Questions offer
constitutional changes

Political residency, state help for
nonprofit schools and a new way
to start prosecution are up for a vote

Proposed amendments

By Pat Omandam

Hawaii voters must decide on three constitutional amendments that will likely require some additional concentration in the polling booths.

The three questions are proposed residency requirements for legislative candidates, state bond help for nonprofit private schools and a third way to initiate a felony prosecution.

The first question is whether the state Constitution should be changed to require a candidate for the state Legislature to live in the district for at least three months before that person can file papers to run for legislative office from that district.

A legislative candidate now has until the day of the general election to become a resident of the district he or she is seeking to represent.

The second question asks whether the Constitution should be changed so the state can issue special-purpose revenue bonds to help nonprofit private schools finance expensive construction and renovation projects.

Voters will be asked to decide the fate of three proposed amendments to the state Constitution at the polls this time around.

The change allows these schools to obtain funds through the state's tax-free bonds, which are at lower interest rates than that of commercial lenders.

The schools, and not the state, would be solely responsible for paying off the bondholders as well as the cost of initiating the bond offer.

Also, the change allows a group of private schools to share the costs of a bond issue, making it possible for smaller schools to participate.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association opposes the proposal, saying it makes no sense to help private schools with construction when public schools are saddled with a $600 million repair and maintenance backlog.

Private schools say it would give them access to lower-interest financing and stretch their capital campaign funds further, and the construction industry says it could use the work the bonds will generate.

The third proposed amendment asks whether prosecutors can initiate a felony prosecution through written information rather than the other two methods now allowed.

This written information document would be similar to a complaint that is supported by affidavits. If a judge finds probable cause based on the written information, a warrant is issued and the case proceeds to trial.

Currently, the state Constitution requires that felony prosecutions be started by either a grand jury indictment or upon the filing of a complaint following a preliminary hearing. Proponents of the amendment say the current methods are expensive, and the state would save money by allowing prosecutors to begin using written information.

Opponents, however, say the change increases a prosecutor's power by giving him the ability to start prosecution solely on uncontested documents. Also, it leaves too much discretion to law enforcement officers.


Proposed amendments

Here are the proposed amendments to the state Constitution that will appear on the general election ballot:

Question No. 1: "Shall a candidate seeking office in a senatorial or representative district be required to become a qualified voter in that district prior to filing nomination papers for the primary election?"

Question No. 2: "Shall the state be authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist not-for-profit private nonsectarian and sectarian elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities; and to combine into a single issue of special purpose revenue bonds two or more proposed issues of special purpose revenue bonds to assist not-for-profit private nonsectarian and sectarian elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities, separately authorized, in a total amount not exceeding the aggregate of the proposed separate issues of special purpose revenue bonds?"

Question No. 3: "Shall Hawaii's constitutional provision regarding the initiation of criminal charges be amended to permit criminal charges for felonies to be initiated by a legal prosecuting officer through the filing of a signed, written information setting forth the charge in accordance with procedures and conditions to be provided by the state Legislature?"

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