Introduction and Articles Summaries

The Hawaii Constitutional Studies 1978 were undertaken at the direction of the legislature and are an attempt to present in understandable form many of the possible issues and the arguments on both sides of such issues that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1978 may wish to consider.

Constitutional Convention Organization and Procedures

The Constitution of the State of Hawaii in section 1 of Article XV provides two methods for initiating amendments to or revising the constitution.

One method is through amendments proposed by the legislature.

The second way to initiate constitutional change is through the constitutional convention method. The same number of delegates to the convention, who shall be elected from the same areas, and the convention shall be convened in the same manner and have the same powers and privileges as nearly as practicable, as provided for the Constitution of 1968.

Article I: Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is one of the “core” areas found in all state constitutions, as well as the U.S. Constitution. Traditionally, the purpose of the Bill of Rights has been to protect individuals and minorities against the excesses of government, in other words, to act as a restraint upon government action. In the twentieth century, particularly since the 1930’s, the government has been increasingly viewed as a provider of services and economic security, and there has been a concomitant demand for new social and economic rights–to medical care, housing, education, and employment. However, the Bill of Rights in Hawaii, as elsewhere, has remained largely a source of negative claims against government interference rather than a source of positive claims upon the government.

Article II: Suffrage and Elections

The right of suffrage (also called the right of franchise) is, simply stated, the right to vote. In a democratic society, a citizen’s main check on government is through the voting process. The voting process is commonly termed an election. It is here that one may directly participate in the selection of those who exercise the power of government.

Article III: The Legislature (Volume I)

State legislative authority is residual; legislatures possess all powers not denied by the national constitution nor denied by the individual state constitutions. Most state constitutions contain numerous restrictions on legislative authority. Limitations are inserted not only in the legislative article but are also scattered throughout the constitution. This is not the case in Hawaii.

Article III: Reapportionment in Hawaii (Volume II)

The problems involved in reapportionment are basic to the character of democratic government. The method of apportioning the number of elected officials and dividing political units into districts provides the framework for the selection of legislative representatives.

Article IV: The Executive

Current discussions in the literature and recent state constitutional revision indicate that the major issue relating to the executive branch is the increasing executive power and centralizing of authority in the office of the governor. Markedly different historical experiences have produced a difference in perspective on this issue between Hawaii and most mainland states.

Article V: The Judiciary

A fundamental function of every state is to preserve itself and its citizens from internal danger. The state must protect itself from internal breaches of the peace such as assault and battery or treason. It must also prevent the undermining of the social order by keeping open the avenues of social progress, including the adjudication of disputes between citizens. It is in this process that the courts play a prominent role.

Article VI: Taxation and Finance

Compared with provisions in other state constitutions, Hawaii’s constitutional article on taxation and finance is a model in simplicity. By and large, it deals with fundamental questions and is free of detailed prescriptions and restrictions, thereby providing the executive and the legislature with substantial latitude and flexibility in formulating taxation and finance policies.

Article VII: Local Government

Throughout the United States local government is a recognized necessity for effective democracy. It is necessary for 3 reasons. First, it serves as a government arm, administering the laws and directives of the state and federal governments. Second, it is responsible for handling local community problems and providing local services. Third, local government works with other government agencies to consolidate traditional government functions.

Article VIII: Public Health and Welfare

Public attention and debate have focused on social services programs during the last 10 years. This attention reflects the direct or indirect impact of social programs on a significant number of individuals in this state and the nation. Reports on program increases, cost overruns, and ultimately, program ineffectiveness have left public officials and private citizens questioning governmental responsibility in this area.

Article IX: Education

What are the state’s responsibilities for education and how are they to be carried out? Since the U.S. Constitution contains no explicit statement on education, authorities believe that education is a state responsibility. This belief is based on the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The responsibility for education is considered to be within the “reserved powers” of the state. Within the limits of other U.S. constitutional requirements, each of the states are sovereign in educational matters.

Article X: Conservation and Development of Resources

In the face of abundance, there is little incentive for prudence. But inevitably, when demand approaches supply, there is a sober reevaluation. Management of that supply, and control of the demand, become crucial. Hawaii is just beginning to face the dangers of a growth rate that may soon overtake the capacity of limited resources. The competition for water, land, open space, minerals, the fruits of the ocean…delivers the ultimatum: manage it wisely or lose it.

Article XI: Hawaiian Home Lands

Article XI involves two distinct sets of concerns. First, is the historical background of the use and ownership of land in Hawaii, and its relationship to the Hawaiian People. Related, is the decline in numbers of Hawaiians, and their unfavorable position on the socio-economic ladder. Historical injustice and the obligation to correct it is a continuous theme.

Second, are the measures adopted to deal with the aforementioned situation. Here the focus is on legality, the constitutionality of certain provisions in Hawaii’s Constitution, the ability of the state to effect changes in policy, and the need for continued federal approval.

Article XII: Organization; Collective Bargaining

The purpose of this report is to provide delegates to the 1978 Constitutional Convention with background materials related to employee organization and collective bargaining; special emphasis is placed on developments in the public sector in light of the current attention directed to this area.

Article XIII: State Boundaries, Capital, Flag

The boundaries of Hawaii contain 8 principal islands plus a number of small islands, atolls, shoals, and reefs. A principal question concerning the boundaries of the State has centered around the seaward boundaries. It has been judicially rules that the seaward boundaries extend only to a 3-mile belt around the islands.

A constitutional provision respecting the location of a state capital, in addition to fixing the site, may set forth means whereby the capital may be changed should the need or desire to do so arise. Heed must be paid to the forced relocation of the seat of government during emergency situations.

The precise origin of the Hawaiian flag is unknown; however all accounts have the following points in common. The Hawaiian flag dates from the reign of Kamehameha I. The 8 stripes represent the 8 major islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. The designer of the flag was an Englishman, which explains, in part, the incorporation of the British Union Jack in the flag.

Article XIV General and Miscellaneous Provisions

Of the 50 states, 37 have a general or miscellaneous article as part of their constitution. The diversity of subject areas covered in such an article is extensive. It is without a doubt, the rug of the constitution under which all the disparate and distinctive provisions are swept. Such an article contains all of those diverse and unrelated subjects whose arrangement in a single catch-all article is preferable to inclusion in the constitution of a number of separate articles consisting of only one or two relatively short sections.

Article XV: Revision and Amendment

This volume addresses itself to the basic question concerning what constitutional changes mean. Related issues arise concerning (1) whether there are any meaningful patterns of constitutional change that link the states together; (2) whether state constitutions are becoming more attuned to the needs of twentieth century urban life as opposed to remaining anachronistic as some political scientists have argued; and (3) whether the people are acquiring more or less control over their destinies through changes in their state constitutions.