Vote NO to the State Con-Con

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Why Hawaiians should oppose another State Con-Con

by Mililani Trask

Recently the old debate about the value of a State Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) has arisen. This occurs every 10 years because our State Constitution provides that the State can sponsor a Con-Con every 10 years to amend the State Constitution. The Constitution does not mandate or require that a Con-Con be held, it is up to the State & its voters to decide.

The question is…. Should the State approve another Con-Con. Do we really need to amend our State Constitution? There are many reasons we should oppose another State Con-Con.


1. There are many other ways to make law. Every year the State Legislature meets for several months to make, amend & repeal laws. The legislative process is much more “democratic” than the State Con-Con. Voters & residents can all participate in the Leg. Session. We can send in our testimony, lobby our elected representatives and ensure our voices are directly heard through testimony we submit electronically. In a Con-Con, a few elected representatives make all the decisions on Oahu with little or no direct participation by residents & voters.

2. When a Con-Con occurs, the entire State Constitution can be changed. Existing protections and rights, now enshrined in our Constitution can be deleted, diminished and changed. If you review the history of our past State Con-Cons, you will see that there is strong language in our State Constitutiont that recognizes and protect Hawaiian cultural practices and Wahi Pana (Sacred Places). These protections could be deleted in another Con-Con. We should be working to protect and enforce our cultural rights. Today, Hawaiian rights to worship, gather and assemble are being challenged and our people are being arrested and charged as criminals for exercising the cultural rights guaranteed in our existing State Constitution. We need to defend our rights, not delete them from the Constitution!

3. Hawaii’s Constitution has strong protections for our public workers. These protections ensure that all State employees have the right to “collective bargaining”, i.e. to bargain with the Administration for a fair wage, a safe workplace and the ability to ensure equity and fairness in the workplace. Do we really want to run the risk that these protections and rights of hundreds of State workers (and the families they support with their wages) could be deleted?

Kakoo Graphic

4. Hawaii’s existing Constitution is remarkable because it provides a strong environmental regime and policies that recognize that “ Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment….including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources”, and that any person can go to court to challenge & protect these rights. In Hawaii we have many cases brought by residents including Hawaiians to protect our islands from pollution, commercialization and degradation. These provisions in our Constitution have been successfully used in many areas to preserve our beautiful islands. We cannot afford to lose these protections in another State Con-Con.

5. Finally, a State Con-Con is costly. The cost for the last Con-Con was $47 million and the next Con-Con is estimated to cost $105.4 million! Where is this money coming from? Because of the Oahu rail fiasco, our tax payers are now saddled with a huge debt that will be passed on to the next two generations of residents…….our children & grandchildren.

The only folks pushing a State Con-Con are those supporting the creation of a State Hawaiian Nation! They want to pass the buck (literally the costs) on to the US through their “Federal Recognition” effort. We need to say no to them and all others who want to
get rid or the environmental, public worker and cultural protections in the existing State Constitution. We need to make change through our existing legislative process that provides a more democratic and inclusive process for law making.

Mililani TraskMililani Trask is a Kanaka Maoli attorney and an expert on Kanaka Maoli rights, entitlements, and self-determination.  She served as the first elected Kia’aina or Governor of Ka Lāhui Hawai’i, from 1988 to 1998 making it the largest grassroots Hawaiian sovereignty organization under her leadership.  Ms. Trask also helped to draft the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and served as a the second elected Vice-Chair of the Underrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

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Mililani Aole Con Con

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