The Rhode Island State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse

Information on Rhode Island's constitutionally mandated Nov. 5, 2024 constitutional convention referendum, including news, opinion, and history

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

Government Milestones

November 5, 2024.  The referendum on whether to convene a constitutional convention.

June 13, 2024. Rhode Island’s Legislature passes both the constitutional convention call and preparatory commission resolutions.

June 4, 2024. H 8326, legislation introduced into the Rhode Island General Assembly: “JOINT RESOLUTION TO SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING QUESTION TO THE QUALIFIED ELECTORS OF THE
STATE AT THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION IN 2024I: “SHALL THERE BE A CONVENTION TO AMEND OR REVISE THE CONSTITUTION?”” Its legislative history and current status can be found here; type in 8326 in the bills field and then click on “enter.” The companion Senate bill is S 3137.

May 30, 2024. H 8324, legislation  introduced in Rhode Island’s General Assembly: “JOINT RESOLUTION PROVIDING FOR A BI-PARTISAN PREPARATORY COMMISSION TO ASSEMBLE INFORMATION ON CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS IN PREPARATION FOR A VOTE BY THE QUALIFIED ELECTORS ON THE HOLDING OF A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH ARTICLE XIV SECTION.” Its legislative history and current status can be found here; type in 8324 in the bills field and then click on “enter.” The companion Senate bill is S 3147.

Tentative Government Milestones Based on 2014 Precedent

November 5, 2024.  The referendum on whether to convene a constitutional convention.

October 1, 2024.  Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the date the Secretary of State is expected to announce the release of the 2024 Voter Information Handbook.

September 3, 2024. Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the date Rhode Island’s constitutionally mandated Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission is expected to release its Report.

August 26, 2024. Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the expected date of the fifth and final meeting of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission.

August 25, 2024.  Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the Secretary of State’s expected deadline for the the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission Report to provide it with its report so it can be incorporated in the Voter Information Handbook.

August 21, 2024.  Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the expected date of the Fourth meeting of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission.

August 19, 2024. Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the expected date of the Third meeting of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission.

August, 7, 2024. Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the expected date of the second meeting and first public hearing of the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission.

July 31, 2024.  Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the expected date of the 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.

July 30, 2024.  In 2014, the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission was to report its findings to the public by July 30. With no adverse consequences, the deadline was not met.

July 29, 2024. Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the date the Rhode Island General Assembly is expected to post on its website the names of the remaining two Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission members and post the public notice of its first public meeting (on July 31).  The law dictates that 48 hours public notice is necessary before holding such a public meeting.

July 24, 2024. Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the date the Bi-partisan Preparatory Commission is expected to post on its website the first 10 of 12 members appointed to the Bi-Partisan Preparatory Commission.

July 10, 2024.  Based on the last convention referendum in 2014, the date campaign finance reports are due to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

 

Constitutionally Required General Assembly Resolutions in 2014

Note: Rhode Island’s Constitution leaves the specific dates of the resolutions to the General Assembly’s discretion.

June 30, 2014.  Joint Resolution 8061 signed by the Governor.

June 23, 2014.  Joint Resolution 2537 signed by the Governor.

June 11, 2014.  Joint Resolutions 25388060 and 8061 passed by the General Assembly.

June 18, 2014.  Joint Resolutions 2538 and 8060 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.

Count down to polls closing

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2024 Preparatory Commission Cycle

Op-Ed

Snider, J.H., and Gary Sasse, It’s past time for RI to prep for Nov. 5 constitutional conventionProvidence Journal, May 12, 2024.

Letter

Conley, Patrick, Time is running out, Providence Journal, May 18, 2024. [J.H. Snider Note: The author drafted the periodic constitutional convention referendum as a delegate at Rhode Island’s 1973 constitutional convention.]

Time is running out

“As the drafter and principal sponsor in the 1973 Constitutional Convention of present Article XIV of the Rhode Island Constitution that mandates periodic 10-year referenda to allow the voters to decide whether or not there exists a need to review or revise our state’s basic law, I strongly concur with the opinion essay by J.H. Snider and Gary Sasse (“Give priority to prep for constitutional convention,” Commentary, May 12) regarding not only the need but also the constitutional obligation for its General Assembly to create a non-partisan citizens preparatory commission with an expert research staff.

Time is running out for such a required commission to present a meaningful report to the voters ahead of this November’s periodic referendum. Semper Paratus.”

–Patrick T. Conley, Former Delegate,
1973 Constitutional Convention

2014 Preparatory Commission Cycle

RhodeIslandConCon.Info Blog Coverage

News Coverage

Morse, Carroll Andrew, Interview with Steve Frias, on the Work of the Constitutional Convention Preparatory CommissionAnchor Rising & The Ocean State Current, September 3, 2014.

Edgar, Randall, Committee issues report on possible topics, cost for RI Constitutional ConventionProvidence Journal, August 25, 2014. Broken link.

Edgar, Randall, Those who support, oppose Rhode Island Constitutional Convention air viewsProvidence Journal, August 22, 2014.

Bogdan, Jennifer, Agenda for possible Constitutional Convention starts to take shapeProvidence Journal, August 8, 2014. Broken link.

Bogdan, Jennifer, Constitutional Convention Commission To Host Public Meetings Throughout Rhode Island, Providence Journal, August 1, 2014.

 Op-Eds

Snider, J.H. and and Beverly Clay, R.I.’s poor preparation for convention, Providence Journal, August 2, 2014.

2014 Voter Information Handbook

RhodeIslandConCon.Info Blog Post

The Master Puppeteers Behind R.I.’s 2014 Voter Information Handbook, Oct. 11, 2014.

Op-Eds

R.I. handbook shows blatant bias, Providence Journal, Sept. 25, 2014.

Rhode Island Con-Con Histories

  • Coleman, Peter J. 1963. The Transformation of Rhode Island 1790-1860. Brown University Press. 
  • Conley, Patrick T. 1977. Democracy in Decline : Rhode Island’s Constitutional Development, 1776-1841. Rhode Island Historical Society. 
  • ———. 2002. Rhode Island in Rhetoric and Reflection: Public Addresses and Essays. First Edition. East Providence: Rhode Island Publications Society.
  • Conley, Patrick T., and Robert G. Flanders Jr. 2011. The Rhode Island State Constitution. Oxford University Press.
  • Cornwell, Elmer E., and Jay S. Goodman. 1969. The Politics of the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention. National Municipal League.
  • Dennison, George M. 1976. The Dorr War: Republicanism on Trial, 1831-1861. Lexington University Press.
  • H. Philip West. 2014. Secrets and Scandals Reforming Rhode Island, 1986-2006. H. Philip West Jr.
  • Moakley, Maureen, and Elmer E. Cornwell. 2001. Rhode Island Politics and Government. U of Nebraska Press.
  • Oline Carmical, Jr. 2012. “Constitution Day: Reflections by Respected Scholars.” Journal of Southern History 78 (3): 700–702.
  • Phillips Memorial Library. 1986. “The Rhode Island Constitutional Convention of 1986; 1984-1987.” Providence College.
  • Raven, Rory. 2010. The Dorr War: Treason, Rebellion & the Fight for Reform in Rhode Island. Charleston, SC: The History Press.

See also https://rhodeisland.concon.info/ under its history menu.

 

 

Democratic leaders, who have blocked the creation of an inspector general for at least 14 years, held firm, denying the amendment on a 61-to-11 vote.

Rep. Evan Shanley, a Warwick Democrat, suggested an inspector general is an “excellent” idea, but one that is better addressed in a Constitutional Convention than in the budget.

Rep. Evan Shanley

Warwick Democrat, Rhode Island General Assembly