Majority of Hawaii constitutional amendments get voters’ support

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Hawaii election ballotHONOLULU – Hawaii voters turned down two of five constitutional amendments, including one that would have allowed the use of taxpayer funds for private preschool education.

The preschool initiative, opposed by the Hawaii State Teachers Association and some key Republicans, only garnered 43 percent of the vote.


Another amendment that would have allowed judges to remain on the bench until 80 years old instead of retiring by their 70th birthday as the constitution now requires, was soundly defeated with 73 percent of the voters opposed.

What did get voters’ approval:

An amendment requiring the state’s judicial selection commission to disclose the list of judicial nominees presented to the governor and chief justice passed by a large margin.

The issue arose when Gov. Neil Abercrombie was first elected to office in 2010 and refused to disclose the list of nominees given to him by the judicial selection commission. His policy contrasted sharply with Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald who was transparent with the public and made the names of the nominees he’d consider public. The Star Advertiser took the governor to court over his secrecy and won, forcing the governor to change his policy.

Another amendment that would allow the state to issue Hawaii’s dam and reservoir owners special purpose revenue bonds to improve their facilities to protect public safety and provide important water sources for the community, also passed with 63 percent of the vote.

It is likely that the March 2006 Ka Loko Dam breach on Kauai’s North Shore, which killed 7 people and an unborn child, contributed to the popularity of that amendment. The owner, James Pflueger, was convicted of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree and sentenced Oct. 15, 2014 to 7 months in prison. His company, Pacific 808, pleaded no contest to 7 counts of manslaughter. Although Pflueger is one  of the wealthiest men in Hawaii, his dam and reservoir still have not been repaired.

Finally, the constitutional amendment to allow the State to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist agricultural enterprises on any type of land, rather than only important agricultural lands, narrowly passed.

Proponents ran a public relations and media campaign toward the end of the election, which may have given them the momentum they needed to get the amendment through.

Some 185,531 people voted in support and another 152,222 opposed the measure. However, the blank votes, which tallied 31,543, count as “no” votes under Hawaii law, giving opponents 183,765 votes or just 1,766 votes less than what they needed to kill the measure.





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