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State Constitutional PoliticsGoverning by Amendment in the American States$
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John Dinan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226532783

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226532950.001.0001

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State Constitutional Amendment Processes and Practices

State Constitutional Amendment Processes and Practices

(p.11) Chapter One State Constitutional Amendment Processes and Practices
State Constitutional Politics

John Dinan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the processes for amending state constitutions, the origin and evolution of these processes, and the varying use of these processes across the 50 states. All states provide for legislature-generated amendments, whereby legislators can propose amendments, which in all but one case have to be ratified by voters. Every state also allows for constitutional conventions to be called to propose amendments or wholesale revision of state constitutions. Eighteen states permit citizen-initiated amendments, where citizens can place amendments on the ballot and then vote to approve them. In some states, constitutional revision commissions can also generate amendments. The chapter also shows that the 50 states vary in how often they make use of these processes, in that some state constitutions are amended once every few years, whereas in other states several amendments are adopted each year. These differences in amendment rates are attributable to various factors, including differences in the rules for amending constitutions and the prevailing state constitutional cultures.

Keywords:   constitutional convention, legislature-generated amendment, citizen-initiated amendment, constitutional revision commission, constitutional culture, amendment rate, amendment rule

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