There are two state Constitution amendments, and one County Charter amendment on this November’s ballot. (Review your ballot here: https://olvr.hawaii.gov/2016GeneralElectionBallots/English/0704EN.pdf)
The State Legislature and the County Council propose various changes to the state's constitution and county charter. These proposed changes vary year to year, but each change to the constitution and county charter require public approval. In essence, this is direct democracy in action - every vote counts.
The amendments on this year's ballot have long-term, and far reaching impact on the future of our state and county. Read up on what they mean below.
Check out the West Hawaii Today article for a more in-depth look at what each amendment means (http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/charter-amendment-word-only-officials-disagree-general-plan-impact). See below for a quick synopsis based on the article.
State Constitutional Amendments:
“CON AMEND: Relating to Jury Trials in Civil Cases
Shall the threshold value in controversy requirement for jury trials in civil cases at common law be increased from $5,000 to $10,000.”
Yes or No
A yes vote: “lessens the burden on circuit courts [state trial courts] for matters not involving large sums of money.” Makes the court system more efficient in reaching decisions, and more cost effective for all parties involved because trials are expensive. A yes vote could possibly limit more individuals from a jury trial.
A no vote: Ensures that people have the right to be heard by a jury of their peers, rather than only a judge. A no vote keeps the threshold that the court uses to determine whether a person has a right to be heard by a jury at a lower value, which means more people have the chance to be heard by a jury.
“CON AMEND: Relating to the Disposition of Excess Revenues
Shall the legislature be provided, when the state general fund balance at the close of each of two successive fiscal years exceeds five percent of the general fund revenues for each of the two fiscal years, the additional alternatives of appropriating general funds for the pre-payment of either or both of the following:
Yes or No
A yes vote: A yes vote allows the state legislature to allocate excess funds for two new uses. A yes vote allows legislature to use excess funds from the budget to be used for the prepayment of bond debt and prepayment of employee pensions and post-retirement benefits.
A no vote: Prevents the legislature from using excess funds from the budget for the prepayment of bond debt and prepayment of employee pensions and post-retirement benefits.
Hawaii County Charter Amendment:
“Hawaii: Expending Scope of the County of Hawaii General Plan
Shall the County Charter be amended to change the scope of the County of Hawaii General Plan, which currently sets forth policy for ‘the long-range comprehensive physical development of the county’, to include long-range policy for matters related to the economic, environmental, and socio-cultural wellbeing of the County; and, additionally, expand those matters which the General Plan promotes to include the health of the people of the County?”
Yes or No
A yes vote: Amends the governing document of the county government to change the scope of the General plan to focus on the creation of county policies surrounding economic, environmental, and socio-cultural wellbeing of the County.
A no vote: Does not change the scope of the county charter.
Check out a more in-depth look at each of the amendments here: http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/charter-amendment-word-only-officials-disagree-general-plan-impact