Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rep. Morita Debates "Con" on ConCon

Photo Credit: Kauai Garden Island. Left to right: Rep. Hermina Morita, Walter Lewis, JoAnn Maruoka, Hawaii League of Women Voters

Rep. Hermina Morita (District 14 - Hanalei, Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Waipouli) participated in a debate last Saturday on the pros and cons of convening a Constitutional Convention. The event was sponsored by the Hawaii League of Women Voters and was held at the Kapaa Public Library.

Rep. Morita represented the "con" position. Walter Lewis of Princeville represented the "pro" position.

Read the Kauai GardenIsland story here. Following is what I would consider the main points of both their arguments:

Morita disagreed the Legislature has not fulfilled its role of adapting the constitution, which was first ratified in 1950 as a way of showing America that Hawai‘i was ready and eager for statehood.

“It’s not as if the constitution has remained static since the 1978 Con-Con. There have been 36 amendments (in that time),” she said. “Just because we haven’t had a Con-Con for 30 years is not a good reason to convene one. They are convened to accomplish wholesale reform. What is so flawed? Show me where it is broken.“(A convention) puts at risk other important rights, privileges and protections that we now enjoy,” she said.

A major issue of the public discussion has focused on the price tag. Depending on who is asked, and a host of other factors, the cost to taxpayers has been estimated to be anywhere between $2 and $40 million.“You can never measure the quality of what can be achieved ... with a price tag,” Lewis said, noting the potential cost of a convention pales in comparison to the state’s $5 billion annual budget.

“If the constitution was flawed, I’d be the first to push for a Con-Con, no matter what the cost,” Morita said. “But that’s not the position we’re in. We should not be wasting our money.”

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