Rhode Island Debates a Constitutional Convention Vote

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email: mcurtis@abc6.com 

The Governor’s race and all its drama, and the combative Providence Mayor’s race, are grabbing all of the political headlines this year.

But, there will be another important item on the ballot.

Rhode Island voters will say “yes or no” on a Constitutional Convention that could lead to many changes.

“From ethics reform, to educational provisions, to restraints on tax and spending so that we can have a better business climate. There are many things that can be taken up in a Constitutional Convention, that our political class refuses to discuss,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

A convention could eventually lead to a line–item veto for the Governor, or term–limits for members of the General Assembly.

That’s something organized labor opposes.

“I think your term limits are at the ballot box. People are elected and unelected all the time in Rhode Island, and if people are so motivated, they can go vote someone out,” said Jim Cenerini, from labor union, AFSCME Council 94.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, “The last time Rhode Island held a Constitutional Convention was in the 1980s. In fact, that was the last time any state in the nation held such a convention.”

Supporters say a new constitutional convention here is crucial; critics call it too expensive.

“A constitutional convention right now – in the last report – is estimated to cost, well over $2 million dollars. We respectfully believe that money can be spent in a better manner,” said Cenerini of AFSCME.

“The unions and the various other special interest groups around the state want to shut down the voice of the people. They want to protect their turf,” said Stenhouse from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Voters will decide on Election Day, whether or not to call a Constitutional Convention.

The vote is November 4.