June 9, 2005

By Tom Burkindine
The Kaselehlie Press

On June 1, during the 17th plenary session day, the Kosrae Constitutional Convention adjourned having completed its business. Four proposals had passed both first and second reading as well as their final reading, for translation and style. These proposals will appear on a ballot for public consideration. As per State Law Section 8-79, Section 14, the Governor must set the date for referendum within 90 days of the convention's adjournment.

The proposals to be voted upon are Constitutional Proposal 01, which defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman; CP 02, which defines a legal residency required to hold public offices in the state; CP 07, which would ban disposal of "recognized harmful pollutants"; and CP 25, which would limit those holding the office of lieutenant governor to two terms in office.

CP 01 would amend Section 4 of Article II of the Kosrae Constitution to legally define marriage in the state. The proposition would make homosexual marriage illegal and says the definition of marriage as proposed is pursuant to Kosrae tradition. The proposal also states "The lawful authority to perform marriage ceremonies shall not be vested in those individuals who hold public office, including the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker, vice speaker, or any state court justices."

The second proposal, CP 02, would amend Section 6(3) of Article VI to clearly define the terms of residency necessary and other requirements for senators and the governor in the state. The proposal would require those running for senator to have been an FSM citizen for no less than 10 years, a resident of Kosrae for no less than five consecutive years immediately preceding the election, and a resident of his electoral district for no less than one year immediately preceding the election. The amendment would also require senators to be 25 years of age and have the ability to read and write. Those convicted of a felony are not eligible unless they have received a pardon restoring their civil rights at least five years prior to election or appointment.

The proposal would also require those running for governor to have been a resident of the state for 10 years immediately preceding filing for office, be at least 35 years of age, a citizen of the FSM, a Kosraean by birth, and a qualified voter in the state. The governor must also have no felony convictions on his or her record unless they have been pardoned at least five years prior to the election date.

CP 07 states there may be no "nuclear, chemical, gas, or biological weapons, or radioactive material hazardous to public health or safety within the state." The proposal refers specifically to the disposal of recognized harmful pollutants, hazardous waste, or other substances which might be deemed dangerous.

The final proposal to be included on the ballot is CP 25 defines the necessary qualifications for the lieutenant governor as the same as the governor. The lieutenant governor would also be limited to two consecutive terms in office.

Virtually none of the proposals requested through the pre-convention municipal meetings were passed. The only exception is CP 01. Several of the pre-con proposals reflected voter dissatisfaction with current government structure and function, proposals for reduction of size of legislature, prohibition on representative funds, establishing office of independent prosecutor, need for more powerful municipal governments, among other. The proposals listed are among 86 which were introduced at the beginning of the Kosrae Con-Con in April. Because the proposals did not pass the required readings, they will not appear on the upcoming ballot.