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5/31/2024 Chairman Craven’s bill will prepare for constitutional convention ballot question
STATE HOUSE – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert E. Craven has introduced a bill that would give voters the opportunity to update the state’s constitution.
The legislation (2024-H 8324) would put in place the constitutionally required 12-member bipartisan preparatory commission to hold public hearings to discuss issues that could be addressed by the convention, and then put a question on the 2024 statewide ballot on Nov. 5 that would ask voters whether they want to the state to have a constitutional convention. If voters approve the question, the convention would study the constitution and come back with recommended changes. Any changes would have to be approved by voters on another statewide ballot before they would become part of the constitution.
Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention met in 1986.
“Times change and so do the issues that the public deeply cares about over time.  We are living in a very different state than we did in 1986 when the last constitutional convention was held and it is vitally important that the public has the opportunity to decide whether or not our state constitution needs to be updated,” said Chairman Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).
A constitutional convention entails the election of delegates from across the state who come together to examine the constitution and recommend changes to the voters. Under the state constitution, voters are a required to be asked every 10 years whether they’d like to have a convention.
If the General Assembly approves Chairman Craven’s bill, a bipartisan 12-member preparatory commission that would be in charge of conducting public hearings before voters are asked the question would be created. The commission, made up of four representatives, four senators and four members of the public, would then be required to issue a public report by Sept. 1, 2024, about the issues that were raised during the hearings.
“Rhode Island’s constitution is a living and breathing document that charts the course of our daily lives.  We are fortunate that it requires the public’s input every 10 years because that is what true democracy looks like, giving the people a voice to affect significant change.  I don’t know if the residents of Rhode Island will vote to have another constitutional convention, but it’s their right to have the opportunity to make that choice,” concluded Chairman Craven.
The legislation was cosponsored by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket), House Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton), Democratic Caucus Chair Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), Deputy Speaker Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence), Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly), and House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown).

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903