Supporters of the "Con Con" say the benefits are worth the cost - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Supporters of the "Con Con" say the benefits are worth the cost

Jon Van Dyke Jon Van Dyke
Peter Carlisle Peter Carlisle
Kahoolawe Kahoolawe

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Do we need a Constitutional Convention or con con? It's a question many have been asking as the election approaches and voters will decide the answer at the ballot box.

The state constitution is set up, so amendments can change things with the times. Action can be taken on issues important to people, by the people, as you will be the ones voting. To see what could happen for the future, it helps to look back at what has happened in the past.

The groundwork for the return of Kahoolawe from the military was laid out in the last Constitutional Convention held in 1978. Term limits for state office were also put in place. And one of the most important changes to come about, was the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Native Hawaiian rights.

"A new Con Con could review what was done in 1978 and review what has worked and what hasn't worked so well," said University of Hawaii law professor, Jon Van Dyke.

While the legislature can already propose amendments to voters, more of those amendments have come from the two previous Con Cons than in all the years of legislature. It is a quick, rapid fire process that puts the power in voters hands.

"People say its expensive, of course its expensive but its an investment. An investment in good government, getting people engaged in our government and getting new ideas in front of us," added Van Dyke.

And when it comes to cost, changes proposed by a Con Con could end up saving the state.

"We could save a lot of money, if you would go to having legislature meet every other year, like other states already do. You are going to save $38 million every other year," said Peter Carlisle, the Honolulu City Prosecutor.

Carlisle would also like to see Con Con create changes in our court system against criminals.

"We could undo years and years of cases thrown out, not based on evidence but on technicalities."

There is no set agenda for a Con Con, issues are brought up and discussed by delegates, then given to voters to decide if they should be passed into law.

Even the issue of how we vote on Con Cons could be taken up.

Right now, if you leave the question blank on your ballot, it counts as a "no" vote. Some in favor of a Con Con say only "no votes" should count as a no.

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