In 2018 you will have the opportunity to vote whether or not Hawai'i should hold a Constitutional Convention.
What is a Constitutional Convention and why should you care? Well, just like the U.S. constitution is the supreme law of the United States as whole, the Hawai'i State Constitution is the supreme law of Hawai'i. This is a great opportunity because we as a people have been able to observe a great deal of flaws from within our state and federal government. By amending our constitution to try to adjust for these flaws, we can improve our lives and our government.
Section 2 of Article XVII of the Hawaii Constitution stipulates that a constitutional convention question must be submitted to voters automatically if a nine year period elapses without such a submission taking place already (i.e. without the legislature referring a constitutional convention question to the ballot), stating that "if any nine-year period shall elapse during which the question shall not have been submitted, the lieutenant governor shall certify a constitutional convention question, to be voted on at the first general election following the expiration of such period." Therefore, this constitutional convention question was automatically certified for the 2018 ballot, as the allotted nine year time period will have elapsed.
What we think
We all have complaints about our state government here in Hawai'i. The list of flaws is long and our governments shortcomings are well known. Imagine you had an old car. Our government is like that old car. It has it''s problems and issues, but it works and gets you from point a to b relatively safely. Then the opportunity came to fix the car and its design for free. Would you do it?
Our state constitution has things in it that our U.S. Constitution (USC for short) does not. For example, our state constitution guarantees the right to privacy whereas the USC merely alludes to this and does not specifically state it. This is one observable improvement that was made over the USC that has benefited the people of Hawai'i.
There is still much room for improvement. For example, both the state and USC talk about the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, but neither provides a specific process for those grievances to be properly heard and addressed.
Another example is how article 18 of the Bill of Rights states that private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation and yet no clear definition of just compensation is given.
Article 4 of the Bill of Rights states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of his civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry. In this, language is pretty much the establishment of equal rights for women. And yet women still are not treated equally as men in many regards. Adding some specificity to make things clear would go a long way in ensuring that women are treated equally without harassment due to lack of clarity within the law.