Oppose HB1499 (Deceptive Constitutional Amendments)

(Links: Bill Status | Bill Text | FIN Hearing NoticeHB1499 FIN PrimerHB1499 FIN Testimony )


Rep. Karl Rhoads proposes a constitutional amendment that will have no practical legal effect.  While Chair Rhoads indicates that HB1499 is symbolic, it is another example of how the Legislature proposes meaningless and deceptive constitutional amendments like the 1998 ConAm on same-sex marriage.  This exercise in government waste and state-sanctioned deception is not in the best interests of people of faith.

Hearing Information

Written Testimony Submission (Late testimony accepted until hearing time)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014 @ 3:00PM


Bring two copies to Room 306 at the State Capitol




Neighbor Island: 1-800-535-3859 (For Oahu, please use the website)
In-person Testimony (Please submit written testimony 24 hours in advance)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 3:00PM


Room 308, State Capitol


Capitol Basement (Metered) or Ali’I Place (Diamond Head side of Alakea Street, between King and Hotel Streets, just past the Manadalay Restaurant)

Supplemental Information

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on HB1499, the Attorney General said the following about the proposed constitutional amendment:

“Unfortunately, the proposed constitutional amendment, if ratified, cannot have any practical legal effect. … Therefore, even if this proposed amendment passed and was ratified, the State of Hawaii would Lill be subject to this ruling from Buckley, as well as the ruling from Citizens United that corporations are entitled to make unlimited independent expenditures regarding elections. …  The Department also has concerns that this measure, if placed on the ballot, may confuse the public. If placed on the ballot, this measure may create the impression that it would be legally effective to address and overturn the unpopular Citizens United ruling. Because the proposed amendment would not have such a legal effect, this impression would be misleading.”

HB1449 would not be the first time that the Legislature has wilfully mislead the people of Hawaii about the practical effects of a constitutional amendment.  In 1998, the people of Hawaii were misled to believe that the constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage would have a meaningful, practical effect.  However, during the 2013 special session the Legislature argued that it still had the authority to grant same-sex marriage.  In McDermott v. Abercrombie, Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled that the 1998 constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage was deceptive, even as both the Legislature and Governor Abercrombie insisted that the constitutional amendment was valid.

Additionally, thousands of emails and pieces of testimony to legislators during the 2013 special session asked them to hear a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage rather than passing SB1, but refused to do so.  Strangely, the legislature has the time and energy to pass a constitutional amendment via HB1499 that has almost no support whatsoever.

This measure is yet another example of how the Legislature intends to deceive the people of Hawaii by putting forth measures that do not have any legal standing, and a measure that the Legislature itself has no intention of obeying.  If the Legislature truly wishes to waste its time on “symbolic gestures”, their time would be better spent hearing measures like HB1624 that would ensure that the First Amendment rights of people of faith are protected.

Following the 1998 constitutional amendment, the Legislature has forfeited any and all public trust in any constitutional amendment.  If both the sponsor (Rep. Karl Rhoads) and the Legislature believe an issue to be worthy of a constitutional amendment, the only appropriate forum for this would be a constitutional convention.

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