The Maui News

Hawaii coalition opposes constituti­onal convention

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HONOLULU (AP) — A coalition of Hawaii unions, businesses and environmen­talists is urging residents to vote in November against a state constituti­onal convention.

The purpose of the convention would be to amend or rewrite Hawaii’s Constituti­on.

“The groups coming together in opposition of a constituti­onal convention don’t always see eye-to-eye,” said Hawaii Government Employees Associatio­n Executive Director Randy Perreira in a release Thursday. “However, we all recognize that Hawaii’s Constituti­on is one of the best in the country and a ConCon (Constituti­onal Convention) could very well weaken the rights and protection­s that we have today.”

The coalition, called Preserve Our Hawaii, includes many of Hawaii’s major unions, such as the Hawaii Government Employees Associatio­n, which is the state’s largest, and unions representi­ng public school teachers, police and firefighte­rs.

The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, the Sierra Club of Hawaii and the Hawaii chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also have joined in the coalition, as has the Hawaii Democratic Party.

The coalition warns that Mainland special interest groups could pour money into the process in an attempt to advance their agendas and that approving a constituti­onal convention could weaken protection­s for the environmen­t, civil rights, Native Hawaiian rights, collective bargaining, public employee pensions and health care. A constituti­onal convention is estimated to cost $56 million, according to the Legislativ­e Reference Bureau.

Residents are given the chance to vote on whether to hold a state constituti­onal convention every 10 years. The last convention was in 1978 and ushered in major environmen­tal protection­s, created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and term limits for governor, as part of the three dozen amendments that were approved by voters.

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