1986 Constitutional Convention


November 6, 1984–Referendum on ballot.  Results: 159,801 yes votes; 137,096 no votes.

June 27, 1985–Enabling act passed.

November 5, 1985–Delegate election.  Election of 100 delegates from 558 candidates; 96,536 votes cast.

January 6, 1986–Convention convenes

June 26, 1986–Convention adjourns after proposing 14 constitutional amendments, most notably a rewrite of the constitution. 11 public hearings were held throughout the state with more than 1,000 members of the public testifying.

November 4, 1986–Convention proposed amendments placed on the ballot.  Eight approved; six rejected.  The rewrite of the constitution is one of the approved amendments.


$891,000 (1986 dollars)

Approved Amendments

  1. Rewrite of the present constitution*
  2. Ethics in government
  3. Budget powers and executive succession
  4. Rights of people
  5. Shore use and environmental protection
  6. Felon office holding and voting
  7. Libraries
  8. Bail

Rejected Amendments

  1. Judicial selection and disclosure
  2. Legislative pay and mileage
  3. Four-year term and recall
  4. Voter initiative
  5. Home rule
  6. Paramount right-to-life (102,633 for; 197,520 against)


Common Cause Rhode Island compiled some noteworthy good government documents related to Rhode Island’s 1986 convention.

Annotated Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation; DONE IN CONVENTION
AT PROVIDENCE ON THE FOURTH DAY OF DECEMBER, A.D. 1986, Office of the Secretary of State, 1988.

* The most important amendment.