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Wednesday, July 30, 2014         

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8 state and city proposals on ballot

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:



TV ads have familiarized Hawaii residents with two proposals on the general election ballot -- whether to switch to an appointed school board, and creation of a city rail transit authority -- but six other questions with much lower profiles also await Oahu voters.

In all, Oahu voters will be asked to decide two proposed amendments to the state Constitution and six proposed changes to the City Charter of Honolulu.

They play by different rules. For a state constitutional question to pass, "yes" votes must exceed all other ballots combined, which includes "no" votes, blank ballots and "spoiled" ballots (typically where a voter has picked more than one choice).

County charter rules are simple: If "yes" beats "no," the question passes.

Here are summaries of the ballot questions for Oahu voters:

STATE CONSTITUTION

Question 1: Appointed school board

To learn more

State Constitution
Click on "2010 Proposed Constitutional Amendments"

Honolulu Charter
Click on "2010 Proposed Charter Amendment Questions"

Star-Advertiser election guide (includes neighbor island charter questions)

This proposed amendment would change the state Board of Education from an elected body to one appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Supporters say an appointed school board would be more qualified and accountable. They point to low voter participation in BOE elections. Opponents say an appointed board would lose its independence from the governor's office and could become mired in partisan politics.

Hawaii has had an elected school board since 1966.

In a recent Hawaii Poll, respondents supported an appointed school board by 53 percent to 35 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

Question 2: Save budget surplus

The Hawaii Constitution states that if there is a budget surplus of more than 5 percent for two consecutive years, lawmakers must give taxpayers a refund or tax credit.

This proposed amendment would give the Legislature the option of saving that surplus in a special fund, to be tapped in times of economic hardship.

HONOLULU CHARTER

Question 1: Rail transit authority

This would create a semiautonomous transit authority to oversee the construction and operation of Oahu's planned $5.5 billion rail transit system.

Powers would include acquiring land via condemnation, executing contracts, issuing bonds and setting fares. There would be a 10-member board of directors, and an executive director chosen by the board.

Question 2: Conflicts of interest

This tightening of conflict-of-interest rules would restrict a newly appointed city department head's ability to make decisions using information gained from that person's previous employer.

Question 3: Liquor Commission dismissals

This is an attempt to strengthen the Liquor Commission's oversight, giving it more authority to hire or fire its administrator and deputy administrator.

Question 4: Clarify initiative provisions

This clarifies inconsistent language in rules governing the public initiative process for creating new city ordinances.

Question 5: Disposal of city property

This would liberalize the city's rules in selling off small items such as office supplies and equipment.

Question 6: City office of housing

This would create a city Office of Housing to address affordable, senior and special needs housing, and homelessness.

Neighbor island voters will have their own county charter amendments to decide, as well as the state constitutional questions.






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