YES TO CONCON
It is always healthy to reexamine our governing structure periodically.
After 30 years, it is time to involve our public in reevaluating our priorities and making improvements to our governing system.
In 30 years, our values have changed.
It is time to do a comprehensive review holistically instead of amending it piecemeal by legislatively
Each generation should have the chance to revise the constitution based on their own understanding of the role of government.
We need to rewrite the entire constitution.
Many people are not even aware of our state constitution. This is a good opportunity to educate the public on our governing document and our government structure.
ConCon would introduce a new group of citizens into the governmental process and encourage new faces in the Legislature.
ConCon would be a source of new leadership.
Issues coming before the legislature not always resolved. We need longer sessions and fewer bills introduced each session to allow for better deliberation of policies.
Despite increased risk of having more departments and agencies adopted (OHA in last ConCon), and risk that special interest groups will dominate the convention, it is still important to have one.
We need to review the roles and powers of the executive and legislative branches and strike a balance of powers between them.
We need an elected Attorney General.
The number of senate districts should be reduced to 12, with two senators elected from each district with the Lieutenant Governor serving as tie breaker. This will implement the policy of the House members representing the local precincts and the senators taking a broader view on state issues.
We need to move to multi-member districts.
There is a need for structural changes in the legislative branch such as term limits and a change to a unicameral legislature.
The legislative process is not very transparent. The legislature does not meet long enough, so it is difficult for the public and the media to keep track of legislative bill changes and outcomes. A longer session would help increase transparency. This could be addressed without a ConCon, but a ConCon may be seen as a more likely route to more transparency.
We should allow smaller and more locally autonomous governing bodies.
We need to review the roles of state and counties giving stronger home rule authority to the counties.
Too many decisions affecting the neighbor islands are being made in Honolulu, which becomes a barrier to citizen participation in the enactment of policies.
The neighbor islands are growing in population and require greater decision-making authority by those most affected by those decisions. The county governments should be able to determine the future of their respective counties according to their vision of what the future should hold.
We need to give greater taxing authority to counties.
Formation of smaller government entities with their own taxing abilities should occur in order to release creativity, responsibility and authority necessary to bring local accountability.
ConCon is the only way we can achieve public funding of election campaigns – the reform that makes all other reforms possible. Right now we have legalized bribery and 99% of us are not playing the game.
Recently adopted amendments, such as the marriage amendment, need review.
Current provision in our Bill of Rights giving the legislature the right to ban same sex marriage should be removed. Civil unions should be recognized.
A Department of Aging needs to be established.
We need provisions for universal health care, including long-term care.
We need to address affordable housing.
Need to review independent boards and commissions created by the legislature.
We need provisions for initiative and referendum. The Legislature will never support this.
The structure and functions of DOE and BOE need to be reviewed.
The structure and functions of the State Department of Transportation should be reviewed.
A total reorganization of the Department of Education is needed. There is a need for local school boards. The people in the school districts are most familiar with their problems and needs.
We need adequate support and funding parity for charter schools.
Articles X, Section 6 needs to be amended to remove the word “exclusive” from the sentence
“The board (Board of Regents) shall have the power, as provided by law, to formulate policy, and to exercise control over the university through its executive officer, the president of the university, who shall be appointed by the board; except that the board shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management and operation of the university.”
There needs to be a degree of oversight by the legislature as well as an appeals process.
There is a need for a more independent Reapportionment Commission. Different appointing authorities should be considered.
We need to secure the permanency of the Office of Information Practices by codifying it in the constitution. Included should be enforcement powers.
There is a need for the power of optional referendum -- the right of the people to overturn laws just enacted they deem unfair and/or unwise, by gathering required numbers of signatures of citizen and placing the question on the ballot in the next election or special election.
We need to provide for the restructuring of OHA through privatization.
The structure and functions of the State Department of Transportation should be reviewed.
The Akaka bill will probably be signed in 2009, and in place and our constitution needs to anticipate and allow for native Hawaiian rights negotiations.
NO TO CONCON
The constitution needs to be a set of principles and not require constant revision. It should be broad enough to allow for flexibility on the part of legislators to meet changing demands.
There are no glaring deficiencies or problems with the constitution and the alternative process of working through the legislature seems to be working fine.
Our constitution is well-written and except for bio-prospecting issues, there have been no other issues that have arisen causing a need for change.
There are no urgent problems with our constitution and the cost in dollars will be too great.
Our constitution is an instrument that defines our state and provides for the operation and functions of our government. The constitution should not be used to legislate on issues.
No issues of constitutional importance are pending. If we have one [a ConCon], people with their own agendas will try to make changes for their own purposes.
Have little confidence in members of the public getting elected and getting actively involved in the process.
I have no confidence that ConCon delegates might not support terrible though popular recommendations.
The last convention was a success because except for a handful of legislators, there was an agreement that the politicians who were already in office would not run for delegate to the ConCon. As a result, there was a chance for new ideas and new politically interested candidates to come forward. Indications are that this will not be the case this time. So if you have a ConCon with the present set of politicos, not much would change.
Voters elect legislators to represent them, so constitutional issues and amendments should be initiated by the legislators.
While it may be true that a ConCon will identify people with leadership qualities who will go on to other elective offices, that is not the purpose for convening a ConCon. It should not be deliberately used as a path to political advancement. For a successful convention, egos should be checked and everyone be committed to a real review with all delegates participating actively to reach consensus on any one issue as much as possible.
People are too polarized. Too many hot button issues will probably be introduced -- issues that willpolarize the body and lead to permanent division of the delegates which would present difficulty in reaching consensus on the other issues.
Too much money will be used advocating or supporting certain amendments, and disproportionate amounts of money spent by one side on any given issue would probably determine the outcome.
Concon will be used to include statutory laws into our constitution, cluttering it with detail, and limiting the legislature's ability to creatively solve some of our problems. Too many people do not understand that you do not legislate through the constitution.
Issues of concern to commercial organizations can best be addressed in statutes.
Issues of concern to our company (writer’s company) may be properly addressed at state and city executive and legislative levels.
Term limits which many people propose are not a good idea. It has kept too many good legislators from continuing to serve. People should have the right to keep people in office or to vote them out.
Term limits deprive the institutions of institutional memory which might give critical insight to deliberations on policies.
A ConCon could be used to overturn the basic nature of an independent judiciary.
A ConCon could lead to rejections of a bicameral legislature which is designed to impede the passage of unwise legislation.
There are far too many mischievous or dangerous issues which unfortunately may have considerable public appeal, and if adopted, could make our situation much worse than it is.
The provisions in the constitution are broad enough to allow changes. Issues before education are mostly operational and not necessarily in need of constitutional amendment.
No Child Left Behind may be leading to the neglect of gifted children.
Afraid that clean elections funding and expenses associated with the administering of the program are not well thought out.
The 1978 ConCon produced important protections for civil liberties. I fear the erosion or even elimination of gains made in 1978.
Our rights enshrined in our constitution have come under serious threat. Constitution should enhance, not diminish fundamental rights.
The climate is currently hostile to civil liberties on the local and federal levels, and we should be very concerned about attempts to diminish rights through constitutional amendments.
Constitution needs to protect minority rights and ConCon could impose popular will and threaten important protections.
The threats to Hawaiian rights are too great to open up the issue.
Our natural resources provisions have to be constantly affirmed because of powerful interests trying to wrest control of Hawaii.
The Code of Ethics might be eroded. We need to keep it intact.
Since Hawaiians are not united on the issue of Hawaiian governance, having a ConCon would raise the risk that OHA could be abolished by the activities of a small group of people with nothing being put in its place.
The problem is not with existing laws. The problem is that they are not being enforced. We don't want to open up a process that will allow existing laws to be weakened and eliminated.
I would not want to see the militarization of law enforcement.
Initiative & Referendum, which is sure to appear on the agenda, does not work. Too many are introduced by special interests, and too much money used to confuse voters. Too often, money determines the winner.
Monied interests would have undue influence. Our present system is a good model of representative democracy.
Changes to the constitution need to be assessed in terms of their larger ramifications and I'm afraid ConCon would not provide or assure that such broad assessments would occur.
When so many amendments are placed on the ballot in any one election as a ConCon might, a balanced discussion on all proposals become impossible. The public will probably not give each proposal the attention it needs, and we will be focusing on the more controversial issues. It works better when we have only a few proposals on the ballot at any one time.
ISSUES OFF THE TABLE ???
When asked, “What issues would you not want reviewed by ConCon?”, quite a few felt that all issues should be on the table. Said one individual, “The closing of topics for consideration would be an unwarranted restriction on the prerogatives of the delegates.”
Others valued certain provisions be it in land conservation, environment, civil rights,
employee rights and many others , and would prefer that these be off the table.
OTHER ISSUES THAT MIGHT ARISE AS TOPICS FOR REVIEW
Renew and define our commitment to universal education
The need to expand Article I (Bill of Rights), Section 5. It now protects race, religion, sex, and ancestry. Add color, age, sexual orientation, marital status, and disability.
Ethics reform for legislators . More transparency in the legislative process. Conflicts of interest issues involving legislators.
Changes in sentencing so victimless crimes do not fill our prisons.
Provisions for universal health care, including long-term care.
Government’s role in providing affordable housing.
We don’t know yet the extent of fallout from current federal administration’s policies, but Hawaii’s continued strategic importance for national security requires us to maintain the strongest shield against federal power during times of crises.
The Court system and the way judges are selected
Internal federalism of a state with different islands -- whether and how much weighting is adequate or results in over-representation on boards and commissions.