It’s unclear exactly how the misinformation got out there, but state Rep. Chris Caruso, a Bridgeport Democrat was happy to dispel rumors that he supports a constitutional convention.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Caruso said Thursday in a phone interview. He said he believes in initiative and referendum, but believes it should be approved through the legislative process, not a constitutional convention.
Somehow proponents of the constitutional convention concluded that because Caruso supported initiative and referendum he must support a constitutional convention. Wrong.
He said proponents even tried to invite him to one of their press conferences. Caruso was quick to decline.
Many who support a constitutional convention have complained that the legislature is unresponsive to their agenda and see the constitutional convention as an opportunity to reclaim their voice in the political process.
Caruso said the legislative process and amending the constitution is supposed to be hard.
Caruso knows better than most how difficult the legislative process can be having fought for public campaign financing for almost two decades before seeing it implemented for the first time this year.
“All a constitutional convention does is open the door for abuse by special interests and lobbyists,” Caruso said.
Connecticut’s legislature has never embraced direct initiative, referendum or recall, however, Caruso said in the mid-1990’s he introduced legislation that would allow for direct initiative. He said it didn’t make it very far through the process, “but that’s why there is a process.”
There’s two ways to amend the state constitution. One is through the legislative process and the other is through a constitutional convention—a question about whether the state should hold a convention appears on the ballot every 20 years.
Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by any member of the General Assembly. If the amendment is approved by ¾ of the General Assembly it will appear on the ballot for the November election in the next even number year. If a majority of the voters approve the amendment it becomes part of the constitution.
If the General Assembly approves an amendment by a simple majority it has to be approved again by the General Assembly in the following year before it appears on the ballot.
The latter is what happened with an amendment that could give 17-year-olds the right to vote in a presidential primary if they’ll be 18 years old prior to the November election. If voters approve this question this November, the constitution will be amended to allow 17-year-olds the right to vote in a primary.