Rhode Island's Nov. 2014 Referendum to Call a Constitutional ConventionAn Information Clearinghouse
Constitutional conventions. — The general assembly, by a vote of a majority of the members elected to each house, may at any general election submit the question, “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution?” to the qualified electors of the state. If the question be not submitted to the people at some time during any period of ten years, the secretary of state shall submit it at the next general election following said period. Prior to a vote by the qualified electors on the holding of a convention, the general assembly, or the governor if the general assembly fails to act, shall provide for a bi-partisan preparatory commission to assemble information on constitutional questions for the electors. If a majority of the electors voting at such election on said question shall vote to hold a convention, the general assembly at its next session shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such convention. The number of delegates shall be equal to the number of members of the house of representatives and shall be apportioned in the same manner as the members of the house of representatives. No revision or amendment of this constitution agreed upon by such convention shall take effect until the same has been submitted to the electors and approved by a majority of those voting thereon.Rhode Island's Constitution, Article XIV, Section 2
November 4, 2014. The referendum on whether to convene a constitutional convention loses by 163,749 (55.1%) to 133,445 (44.9%); the absentee ballot total was 6,724 (50.1%) to 6,684 (49.9%). Data is from the Rhode Island Board of Elections as of November 6, 2014; final certified results likely to vary. Voter turnout was 40.1%, down from 45.2% in 2010. See J.H. Snider’s blog post post-mortem.
October 30, 2014. Rhode Island Board of Elections hearing concerning allegations of campaign finance violations by Coalition for Responsible Government. See J.H. Snider and Beverly Clay’s blog post on the complaint that led to the hearing.
October 1, 2014. Secretary of State announces release of the 2014 Voter Information Handbook.
September 3, 2014. Release of the Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission Report.
August 25, 2014. Secretary of State’s Voter Information Handbook deadline for the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission Report
August 21, 2014. Fourth meeting and third public hearing of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission.
August 19, 2014. Third meeting and second public hearing of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission.
August, 7, 2014. Second meeting and first public hearing of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission. See J.H. Snider’s blog posts on the report and meeting, including links to the webcast and written testimony.
July 31, 2014. First meeting of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission to Assemble Information on Constitutional Convention Questions in Preparation for a Vote by the Qualified Electors on the Holding of a Constitutional Convention in Accordance with Article XIV, Section 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution. Covered in J.H. Snider’s blog post.
July 30, 2014. Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission was to report its findings to the public by this date (the deadline was not met).
July 29, 2014. The Rhode Island General Assembly posts on its website the names of the remaining two Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission members and posts public notice of its July 31, 2014 first public meeting. The law dictates that 48 hours notice is necessary before holding such a public meeting.
July 24, 2014. The Rhode Island General Assembly posts on its website the first 10 of 12 members appointed to the Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission.
July 10, 2014. Campaign finance reports due to the Rhode Island Board of Elections. According to the filings, the no campaign has raised $59,000 and the yes campaign $0 as of July 10, 2014. On July 19, 2014, the Providence Journal reported on the Board of Elections filing.
June 30, 2014. Joint Resolution 8061 signed by the Governor.
June 23, 2014. Joint Resolution 2537 signed by the Governor.
April 29, 2014. Hearing to consider proposed constitutional amendments that could serve as the basis of the Preparatory Commission.
April 16, 2014. Joint Resolution 8061 (creating a bipartisan preparatory commission) introduced in the Rhode Island House.
February 27, 2014. Joint Resolutions 2537 (creating a bipartisan preparatory commission) and 2538 (placing the constitutional convention referendum on the ballot) introduced in the Rhode Island Senate.
Launch of the Yes and No Coalitions
August 20, 2014. Launch of Renew RI, which seeks to “encourages citizens of our state to study the issues involved so they can make an informed decision on [the constitutional convention referendum] when they cast their votes on Nov. 4. ”
April 30, 2014. Launch of Citizens for Responsible Government, which describes itself as “a diverse and growing coalition of Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island organizations who are opposed to a Constitutional Convention.”
J.H. Snider profiles the two coalitions in his September 7, 2014 blog post: Citizens for Responsible Government vs. RenewRI
(As of October 18, 2014, this section will no longer be maintained. Use the menu system for the latest news, op-eds, etc.)
October 17, 2014
Op-ed in GoLocalProv by J.H. Snider satirizing the debate about the constitutional convention referendum currently taking place in Rhode Island.
Op-ed in the Warwick Beacon by Robert O. Flanders arguing that state constitutional conventions have served to enhance rather than diminish the people’s rights.
October 5, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Ken Block arguing that a state constitutional convention represents a rare opportunity to fix Rhode Island’s broken system of government.
October 3, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Steve Brown arguing that a state constitutional convention would be dominated by special interests and is, in any case, unnecessary.
September 29, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by George Nee arguing that a state constitutional convention would hurt Rhode Island unions.
September 28, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Philip West arguing for a state constitutional agenda based on democratic reforms that the General Assembly wouldn’t otherwise pass.
September 25, 2014
September 16, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Jack Partridge, delegate to Rhode Island’s 1973 constitutional convention and former chair of Common Cause Rhode Island, providing an account of the discrepancy between the intent of the Framers of the Bi-partisan Preparatory provision in Rhode Island’s Constitution and its implementation in 2014 by Rhode Island’s legislature.
August 18, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Pablo Rodriquez arguing that the General Assembly is a better institutional vehicle for democratic reform because of the high cost of a state constitutional convention and the risk that it would be corrupted and serve to restrict social rights such as a woman’s right to choose.
August 14, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Mike Stenhouse observing that anything passed by a state constitutional convention must be approved by voters and arguing that the people are not the enemy.
August 7, 2014
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity issues a blueprint for how the constitutional convention process should work and what issues a constitutional convention could address.
August 2, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by J.H. Snider and Beverly Clay reviewing the history of Rhode Island’s bi-partisan preparatory commissions and arguing for a better method of information the public about issues a state constitutional convention could address.
July 7, 2014
Op-ed in GoLocal Prov by Moore, Russell arguing for a Rhode Island state constitutional convention by describing the opposition, its arguments, and the types of issues a constitutional convention could address.
June 13, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by J.H. Snider and Beverly Clay reviewing the history of Rhode Island’s constitutional convention campaign finance disclosure and making the case for better disclosure.
June 12, 2014
June 4, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Timothy Murphy, a Brown University Professor, arguing that a constitutional convention is the only likely mechanism by which Rhode Island’s General Assembly will become subject to meaningful ethics reform because the General Assembly has consistently refused to pass such reform itself.
May 22, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by Jack Partridge, delegate to Rhode Island’s 1973 constitutional convention and former chair of Common Cause Rhode Island, providing a first hand account of Rhode Island’s successful 1973 constitutional convention and arguing that fears of a future convention don’t gibe with that experience.
April 25, 2014
RhodeIslandConCon.info launches FAQ to address questions about state constitutional conventions.
March 29, 2014
Event at the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership, Bryant University, “A Constitutional Convention for Rhode Island?,” 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. J.H. Snider reviews the conference, including providing conference links.
March 21, 2014
Op-ed in the Providence Journal by J.H. Snider and Sage Snider providing a historical, political, and democratic functional analysis of Rhode Island’s November 4, 2014 referendum to convene a constitutional convention.
March 20, 2014
Launch of RhodeIslandConCon.info.
January 31, 2013
Public Policy Polling releases a public opinion survey concerning propositions on the November 2014 ballot. The question on the upcoming constitutional convention referendum finds 40% in favor, 25% opposed, and 35% undecided.
Count down to polls closing
On November 4, 2014, the referendum to convene a Rhode Island state constitutional convention lost by 55.1% to 44.9%. On October 23, Brown University’s Taubman Center published a poll, the results of which were reported in the Providence Journal and Governing...
On Monday, October 27, RenewRI, the coalition leading the yes campaign on the constitutional convention referendum in Rhode Island, filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Board of Elections concerning the campaign finance disclosures of The Coalition for Responsible...
In seemingly every daily newspaper in Rhode Island (e.g., see Providence Journal, GoLocalProv, Valley Breeze, IndependentRI.com, and Warwick Beacon; for links, go to Rhode Island'ConCon.info's op-ed page), the Rhode Island ACLU's Steve Brown has argued that another...
In early October, Rhode Island’s Secretary of State mailed at taxpayer expense to hundreds of thousands of registered voters a printed copy of the 2014 Voter Information Handbook. The Handbook includes what is supposed to be an impartial explanation of all the...
On November 4, 2014, Rhode Islanders will vote on a referendum for or against convening a state constitutional convention. On April 30, 2014, Citizens For Responsible Government was publicly launched to support a no vote. On August 20, 2014, RenewRI was publicly...
On August 26, 2014, the Commission met for the fifth and last time. The purpose of the meeting was to approve the Commission’s Report, which it did (well, sort of). The Commission Report was publicly released on September 3—eight days after the wording had...
On August 19 and August 21 the Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission wrapped up its public testimony with its 2nd and 3rd public hearings. The Commission has scheduled a meeting next Tuesday at 3:30 pm to discuss its draft report. No public comment will be allowed. A...
The Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission met on August 7. It made two important announcements before beginning with public testimony. The first was that the Commission’s report would be published by August 25. This date was premised on the need to get the...
At today’s hearing of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity released a report, The Path to a Constitutional Convention, which provides a well packaged addition to the discussion of why and how to convene a...
On July 29, 2014, one day before its report was due, the General Assembly’s legislative leaders appointed the final two members of the Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission to Assemble Information on Constitutional Convention Questions. Two-thirds of the Commission...
RhodeIslandConCon.info has launched an FAQ to address questions about both Rhode Island's upcoming state constitutional convention referendum and state constitutional conventions more generally. State constitutional conventions are a subject on which popular...
Patrick Conley has joined RhodeIslandConCon.info's Advisory Committee. Dr. Conley was a delegate to Rhode Island’s 1973 Constitutional Convention, where he drafted and championed Article XIV, Section 2, providing for a periodic, self-executing constitutional...
J.H. Snider’s reflections on the March 29, 2014 conference at Bryant University, “A Constitutional Convention for Rhode Island?”