RenewRI Forms to Advocate Holding a Constitutional Convention

- RenewRI encourages voters to say Yes on Question 3 this November -

Providence, RI, August 20, 2014 – A new organization has formed for the express purpose of encouraging Rhode Island voters to approve Question 3 on the November 4 election ballot in support of holding a constitutional convention.

The group, RenewRI, is comprised of a non-partisan coalition of diverse individuals and organizations (view member list). RenewRI believes that the Ocean State should hold a constitutional convention for the purpose of revising the constitution to move the state forward on issues that the legislature has demonstrated a reluctance to address via the legislative process.

View the full version of the Press Conference Video (15 minutes)

RenewRI believes that convening a constitutional convention is an indispensable step to restoring confidence in our democratic institutions, protecting basic rights, and ensuring fairer, more accountable and effective government in Rhode Island.

RenewRI will advocate for holding a convention by conducting an educational and informational public campaign to include media outreach efforts, social media community building, advertising and vigorous engagement in public discussions with constitutional convention opponents.

 

RenewRI believes that convening a constitutional convention is an indispensible step to restoring confidence in our democratic institutions, protecting basic rights, and ensuring fairer, more accountable and effective government in Rhode Island.

RenewRI will advocate for holding a convention by conducting an educational and informational public campaign to include media outreach efforts, social media community building, advertising and vigorous engagement in public discussions with constitutional convention opponents.

On November 4th RI voters will be asked to vote yes or no on the following question: “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution?” Voters must say yes or no to holding a constitutional convention once every decade, as called for in the state constitution. RI has not held a convention since 1986. Upon completion of its work, all resolutions recommended by the convention must be approved by voters.

RenewRI will not endorse a specific list of issues that a constitutional convention could address in its deliberations. Its mission is simply to encourage voters to vote Yes on Question 3. However, examples of important questions that could be considered by such a convention include the following:

  • Should the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction over the General Assembly be restored?
  • Should the judicial selection process be revisited to reduce the potential for cronyism in judicial appointments?
  • Should a constitutional process be established to provide for fair redistricting of the General Assembly?
  • Should a constitutional amendment be considered to give the governor line item veto power over appropriations?
  • Should the constitution be amended to guarantee all children access to an adequate education?

 

“At certain times in the past the legislature has addressed issues of a constitutional nature,” says H. Phillip West, Jr., former Executive Director of Common Cause RI and a member of RenewRI. “However, we recognize that in recent years the General Assembly has been unable or unwilling to do so. This failure leaves our state at a constitutional disadvantage that harms our economy, education and civic culture. We see a constitutional convention as a reasonable forum for deciding whether and how these questions should go before the state’s voters.

“We will also oppose with one voice any constitutional questions that might tamper with the civil rights of any persons or groups. Like our friends who fear that a convention might encourage vitriolic voices, we pledge to oppose any such proposals.”

RenewRI has established a website at www.renewri.org to provide a full range of additional information on RI constitutional convention issues to include:

  • history of the constitutional conventions held to date,
  • pertinent language in the RI state constitution providing for a constitutional convention
  • detailed explanation of the convention process
  • opinion articles, a list of FAQs and more.

 

There is a fundraising mechanism on the site for members of the public to make contributions in support of the mission and activities of RenewRI and also a volunteer sign-up page.