By PETER SUR
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Voters defeated two constitutional amendments up for consideration after both measures failed to get the required 50 percent of votes in favor for approval.
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
The first amendment voters considered would have allowed the state to issue special purpose revenue bonds for the purpose of assisting dam and reservoir owners to make their facilities compliant with current safety standards.
Currently, special purpose bonds are authorized to assist certain manufacturers, utilities, health care facilities, low-income housing, early childhood education, private schools and universities, and agricultural enterprises.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources supported passage of this amendment, because the owners of the dams and reservoirs, not the state, would be responsible for making debt payments.
The amendment was proposed in response to the failure of an earthen dam on Kauai in 2006 that resulted in the deaths of seven people.
With all precincts reporting, the final tally was 48.7 percent in favor and 40.3 percent opposed. An additional 11 percent of voters left the ballot blank. Blank votes are counted as “no” votes. By the numbers, there were 210,402 voting in favor and 174,046 opposed, with 47,559 leaving the ballot blank or spoiled.
The other amendment would have allowed the chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court to appoint judges emeriti who have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 years to courts no higher than the court level they reached prior to retirement for terms no longer than three months.
Had this measure been approved, for example, assuming 3rd Circuit Judge Glenn S. Hara retires as a circuit judge, he may be appointed as a judge emeritus to District Court or Circuit Court, but not the Intermediate Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
Existing language in the state Constitution allows retired judges to be appointed temporarily to courts, but there was no exception for judges who have reached the age of 70.
Results released at 11 p.m. showed this amendment was defeated by the narrowest of margins. It gathered 49.7 percent approval, with 39.9 percent opposed and 10.4 percent not voting. Late-night returns showed that 214,567 voted in favor, 172,359 opposed it and 45,081 left it blank.
COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Meanwhile, five of the six Hawaii County Charter amendments were approved and one was definitively rejected:
Proposal 1 seeks to amend the contents of the County Charter’s open meeting notice requirements to bring them in line with the requirements of the state of Hawaii. Approved by a vote of 39,129 in favor to 15,613 opposed, or 62.1 percent to 24.8 percent.
Proposal 2 raises the minimum required contribution into the Public Access Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund from a minimum of 1 percent to a minimum of 2 percent of real property tax revenue. Approved by a vote of 34,622 to 20,828, or 55.0 percent to 33.1 percent.
Proposal 3 is a companion amendment to Proposal 3 in that it requires 0.25 percent of real property tax revenue to be deposited into a separate fund for the maintenance and preservation of land acquired by the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. This fund is capped at $3 million. Approved by a vote of 35,595 to 19,551, or 56.5 percent to 31.0 percent.
Proposal 4, had it been approved, would allow for the creation or abolition of special funds by the County Council without the recommendation of the mayor. This was the only amendment that had more “no” votes than “yes” votes, indicating that it was headed for defeat. Defeated by a vote of 40,854 opposed to 14,835 in favor, or 64.8 percent to 23.5 percent.
Proposal 5 prevents members of all future county Redistricting Commissions from running for office in the first election after the approval of any such redistricting plan. Two members of the previous commission, Valerie Poindexter and Dru Kanuha, ran for the County Council this year; Kanuha was elected in August after running unopposed. Approved by a vote of 39,537 to 14,005, or 62.8 percent to 22.2 percent.
Proposal 6 creates a Game Management Advisory Commission that would advise county, state and federal agencies on matters relating to the preservation of subsistence hunting and fishing, the protection of traditional gathering rights and the conservation of fish and game. Approved by a vote of 36,926 to 19,491, or 58.6 percent to 30.9 percent.
Email Peter Sur at firstname.lastname@example.org.