2014-10-16 / Around Town

Oct. 27 Public Forum on Ballot Question 3

Does Rhode Island need to update its own constitution? That is the issue raised by Rhode Island Ballot Question 3, a question overshadowed by referendums that involve millions of taxpayer dollars.

Area residents can learn about this ballot measure at a public forum called “Constitutional Convention: Good or Bad for Rhode Island?” to be held Monday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Newport Public Library.

Question 3 asks voters to decide whether the state should hold a convention to amend or revise the Rhode Island Constitution. The current state constitution requires that voters have a chance to consider proposed amendments at least once every 10 years. On Nov. 4, voters will decide whether the state should hold a constitutional convention, or "Con Con," to propose amendments or revisions. Any amendments proposed by the Con Con delegates would have to be approved by voters in a future statewide election.

If Question 3 passes, the General Assembly is responsible for determining the method of electing delegates to the convention. If Question 3 fails, there will be no Con Con to develop and propose changes to the constitution.

Some advocates believe that the convention will provide a pathway to “clean government” in a state suffering from a reputation for governmental corruption.

Question 3 opponents fear that special interests will push their own agendas on controversial issues like abortion and immigration.

A spokesperson for each side will present their case. Robert Benson, a member of Common Cause Rhode Island and Operation Clean Government, will argue in favor. Dr. Pablo Rodriguez of Citizens for Responsible Government and Chair of the Women & Infants Health Care Alliance will argue against.

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