The legislative session is just around the corner and our partners at Civil Beat have been doing some polling.
Island News' Paula Akana talked with journalist Chad Blair to discuss some surprising results.
Paula Akana: When did you do the poll, how many people are we talking about?
Chad Blair: The poll was conducted in late November, and we surveyed more than 800 registered voters statewide. About two-thirds were on landlines, about one-third with cellphones.
The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.
Paula Akana: The first poll that surprised me was the support for a constitutional convention, or con con. The last one was in 1978.
Chad Blair: The support was solid for a new con con - 67 percent in favor. Only 14 percent said no. What we heard is that people want to be able to take control and assert their own opinion into state law, rather than having to rely on the Legislature. Next November, the con con question is again on the ballot.
Paula Akana: You asked voters if there should be term limits for state legislators, which lawmakers have failed to pass. I recall state Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran telling me, "We already have term limits — it's called a voting booth." How did people respond in the poll?
Chad Blair: Nearly 70 percent say state lawmakers should have term limits. We already have them at the county level and for governor and LG, so why not the Legislature? Voters would also like initiative and referendum at the state level, meaning they could directly or indirectly put policy questions before voters. Nearly half of all states have some form of that already.
Paula Akana: Medical aid in dying bill was deferred. Do those polled support it?
Chad Blair: Yes, and by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio. Every time we poll this issue, sometimes called death with dignity or physician-assisted suicide, the numbers have been pretty steady. The state Senate approved a bill medical-aid-in-dying bill earlier this year, but the House Health Committee held it, saying it did not have enough safeguards.
Paula Akana: Recreational marijuana was another item polled. The outcome was interesting but not unbelievable.
Chad Blair: It's the only question we polled that got a negative response: 55 percent don't want to legalize pakalolo. People over 50 especially feel that way, but it's the other way around for younger folks. State Sen. Will Espero says it's just a matter of time before Hawaii decriminalizes or legalizes pot and that's because it could be a big revenue stream for the state.
Paula Akana: What's next from the poll?
Chad Blair: Tomorrow we wrap things up with our survey on having a statewide lottery, or joining multi-state lotteries like Powerball. I'll give you a tease on the results. We like going to Las Vegas, right? I'll leave it at that.