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Hawaii voters reject Constitutional amendments

By Gary T. Kubota

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:20 a.m. HST, Nov 07, 2012



State constitutional amendment proposals allowing state court judges to serve temporarily after age 69 and making financing of repairs easier to high-risk agricultural reservoirs and dams were defeated in Tuesday’s general election.

After the fourth and final printout Tuesday night, the temporary judges proposal received 48.7 percent “yes votes” vs. 51.3 percent “no,” blank and overvotes. Blank and spoiled ballots are counted as “no” on constitutional amendment proposals.

The second proposal for reservoir financing was defeated 50.3 percent “no,” blank and overvotes vs. 49.7 percent “yes votes.”

State Land Board Chairman William Aila said he still believed it was a good amendment and planned to reintroduce it for another vote.

"We have to back to the drawing board," Aila said.

Aila said he thinks people mistakenly thought the state would be liable.

Dam and reservoir owners would allowed to obtain some state support through special purpose revenue bonds to finance repairs, under a constitutional change on today’s general election ballot.

The bonds would help the owners get financing for the projects, but the owners would be responsible for paying the debt.

Several other entities already are designated to use special purpose revenue bonds, including utilities.

Lawmakers of both chambers would be required to review each special purpose revenue bond authorization, with approval requiring a two-thirds’ vote.

The proposed amendment followed a 2010 report to the state Legislature calling for improvements and looking at 113 high-risk agricultural reservoirs, in light of the Ka Loko Dam break on Kauai that killed seven people on March 14, 2006.

The judges proposal would change a constitutional provision that required state judges to retire at age 70.

State Sen. Rosalyn Baker who introduced the proposed amendment said she thought people may have not understood the measure.

"I still think it's a good idea," she said.

Baker said she needed to review the proposal before deciding whether to re-introduce it.

The amendment would allow the state chief justice to select Hawaii judges age 70 and older for three-month appointments and to a level no higher than the position they reached before retirement.

Supporters said the temporary appointments would give the chief justice more flexibility to draw from a larger pool of judges and enable him to select more experienced judges to deal with a backlog of cases, including foreclosures.






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