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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 1:28 a.m., Wednesday, November 6, 2002

All 3 ballot measures gain approval

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

The hotly debated constitutional amendment on private school bonds and two other statewide measures won approval yesterday.

Amendment No. 2 was the subject of debate among parents and teachers in private and public schools because it would allow tax- free special-purpose bonds to be used for private-school projects.

An amendment dealing with how defendants can be brought to trial (No. 3) and one on candidate residency (No. 1) also were approved.

But Brent White, American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i legal director, said yesterday he intended to challenge all three amendments.

Advocates of the private school bonds measure, such as the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools (HAIS), argued that no public money would go to build or repair private schools, and no public money would be taken from pubic schools, so the measure would benefit the state.

Opponents, particularly among the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association (HSTA), countered that private schools should not be considered a public benefit eligible for tax-free bonds because they are off limits to much of the general public.

“What this amendment does is that it takes the priority away from public education,” said HSTA President Karen Ginoza.

The amendment proposing a change to how defendants can be brought to trial pitted prosecutors and the state attorney general against defense attorneys and civil-liberties groups. With the passage of Amendment 3, prosecutors can present information to a state judge, who would decide after reviewing it whether a suspect would go to trial. Critics said that how this process works would have to be decided by the Legislature.

Under Amendment No. 1, candidates would be required to live in the district they want to represent when they file nomination papers.

White said last night that none of the amendments were presented to voters in accordance with the state constitution. The texts of all three were posted late, and some 100,000 absentee voters were not given a chance to see the texts at all, he said.

“This is an example of the state putting the cart before the horse,” White said. “This is the constitution, not some high school ruling. And the constitution requires that the text be available to the voters four weeks before the election so they can make up their minds.”

Reach Will Hoover at 525-8038 or whoover@honoluluadvertiser.com.