Bill putting constitutional convention question on ballot signed
STATE HOUSE – The governor has signed into law legislation sponsored by Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Glocester, Burrillville, North Smithfield) and Rep. Cale P. Keable (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) putting a question on November’s ballot asking voters whether they wish to call a convention to consider revisions to the state’s constitution.
If voters approve the question posed under the legislation (2014-S 2538, 2014-H 8060), the constitutional convention would study the document that serves as the state’s guiding framework and come back with recommended changes. Any changes proposed by the convention would have to be approved by voters on another statewide ballot before they would become part of the constitution.
A constitutional convention entails the election of delegates from across the state who come together to examine the state constitution and recommend changes to the voters. Under the state constitution, voters are required to be asked every 10 years whether they’d like to have a convention. Rhode Islanders were asked the question on the 2004 ballot, but rejected it, 48 percent to 52 percent. The question was also rejected in 1994, although little preparatory work was done that time. Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention met in 1986.
Additionally, the governor signed into law legislation (2014-S 2537A, 2014-H 8061), also sponsored by Senator Fogarty and Representative Keable, to establish the constitutionally required 12-member preparatory commission to hold public hearings to discuss potential issues that might be addressed if the state were to hold such a convention. The bipartisan preparatory commission would conduct public hearings before voters are asked the question at the November general election. The commission, made up of four representatives, four senators and four members of the public, would then be required to issue a public report about the issues that were raised during the hearings. That report would be included in the voter handbook that is mailed to all registered voters before the election.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903