"We, the people of the free and sovereign state of New Columbia, seek to secure and provide for each person: health, safety and welfare; a peaceful and orderly life; and the right to legal, social, and economic justice and equality.
"We recognize our unique and special history and the diversity and pluralism of our people, and we have determined to control our collective destiny, maximize our individual freedom, and govern ourselves democratically, guaranteeing to each individual and the people collectively, complete and equal exercise and protection of the rights listed herein.
"We reach out to all the peoples of the world in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, certain that together we can build a future of peace and harmony.
"Therefore, being mindful that government exists to serve every person, we do adopt this Constitution and establish this government."
Bill of Rights
The 24-section bill of rights:
* Guarantees freedom of association, assembly, press, religion, speech and "other forms of expression" and the right to petition for redress of grievances.
* Provides that all persons have a right to equal protection of the law and to be free from "historic group discrimination, public or private, based on race, color, religion, creed, citizenship, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, poverty or parentage."
* Emphasizes that affirmative action to correct historic patterns of discrimination against women and racial and national minorities "shall be lawful."
* Specifies that disabled persons have a right to be "treated as equal community members" and forbids discrimination against elderly persons "except that services limited to senior citizens may be provided."
* Prohibits state intervention in personal decisions on birth control, abortion and sterilization, stating that the right of the individual "to decide whether to procreate or to bear a child is inviolable."
* Bans police surveillance of political activity, except where "relevant for prosecution of past, present or imminent crime."
* Prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures" by police, establishes "probable cause" standards for the issuance of search warrants and court-ordered wiretaps and limits warrantless searches to those "incident to a valid arrest," emergency situations in which there is not enough time to get a warrant and similar circumstances.
* Requires police to inform criminal suspects of their right to have legal representation when arrested, and entitles them to an explicit statement of the charges and "all evidence possessed by the state" against them.
* Assures suspects of the right to have counsel present with them in grand jury proceedings, and of access to grand jury transcripts "in a timely fashion." The state also must provide "non-governmental counsel for independent advice" during grand jury proceedings.
* Specifies that bail may not be excessive and its "sole purpose" is to "assure the presence of the accused at trial."
* Guarantees criminal defendants the right to speedy and public trial before a jury of 12 persons. Jury verdicts must be unanimous.
* Abolishes the death penalty and forbids the state to impose "cruel, corporal or unusual punishment" or to imprison persons for inability to pay debts.
* Prohibits double jeopardy, specifying that a defendant may not be tried twice for the same offense in state court, or after being tried on essentially the same charges in federal court or the court of another state.
* Abolishes the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This means all state agencies and employes may be sued and held liable for their actions. State judges, however, may not be sued for court orders they have issued.
* Prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude.
* Guarantees that "every person shall have the right to employment, or if unable to work, an income sufficient to meet basic human needs." All workers are guaranteed "equal pay for equal work and equal pay for comparable work."
This article establishes a 40-member unicameral legislature called the House of Delegates. Each delegate would be the sole representative of his or her district and would serve a four-year term. The house would elect one delegate as president to preside over the legislature.
A delegate must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the state for at least three years and a resident of his legislative district for at least 18 months. While in office, a delegate would not be allowed to hold "any other federal or state elected or appointed public office, position of profit, or employment."
Delegates' salaries are to be set by law. A five-member commission appointed by the governor is required to assess the legislators' compensation every four years and recommend any "appropriate" changes.
The constitution calls for the House of Delegates to meet in regular sessions on a biennial cycle, with all unfinished legislation expiring at the end of each two-year period. All sessions are to be open to the public and press, with "adequate advance notice" of meetings and an official journal of proceedings made available to the public. The legislature and its committees have subpoena power to compel the appearance of witnesses for hearings.
For bills to become law, they must be approved twice in identical form by a majority of the legislature. The approving votes must take place at least 13 days apart, and the legislation then must be signed by the governor. The governor is to have line-item veto power over appropriations, but must sign or veto all other measures in whole. A bill becomes law if the governor either signs it or takes no action on it within 15 days of presentation. The House of Delegates may override a veto by a two-thirds majority of all delegates in the legislature, except appropriation bills, which require only a two-thirds majority vote of those delegates present and voting.
Any executive official elected or appointed with the consent of the House of Delegates is subject to impeachment, and may be removed from office on conviction by a two-thirds majority of the House. All elected and appointed officials are to be subject to a conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure law to be enacted by the legislature.
The governor is the chief executive officer of the state, responsible for all government departments and agencies. A lieutenant governor elected on the same slate would succeed the governor in case of the governor's disability "as determined by the Supreme Court" of the state.
The governor shall appoint a state attorney general, subject to the advice and consent of the legislature, as his chief legal adviser.
The governor and lieutenant governor, who must be at least 30 years old and residents of the state for at least five years, may serve an unlimited number of terms, but no more than two consecutively. Their salaries are to be set by law.
The governor appoints the heads of all state agencies and departments (subject to legislative approval), submits periodic budgets to the legislature, serves as commander-in-chief of the state's national guard and has power to grant clemency to criminal defendants and to appoint judges
The governor also appoints members of all state regulatory boards and commissions, subject to legislative approval and a requirement that not all appointees be members of the same political party.
A "suitably furnished executive residence" may be provided by the legislature for the governor.
The constitution mandates the establishment of a Supreme Court and Superior (or trial) Court in the state, and permits the legislature to establish additional "inferior and appellate courts" as it deems necessary.
The Supreme Court is to have nine justices to hear all cases en banc, or as a group.
The Superior Court would have at least 44 judges. It would have initial jurisdiction over most criminal and civil litigation in the state, and review authority over cases appealed from any "inferior" courts established by the legislature.
Judges must be state residents, active members of the state bar and engaged in law practice for at least five years before appointment to the bench.
Under a "transition" provision, the judges of the present D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals are to become the judges and justices of the new state Superior and Supreme courts, respectively.
Thereafter, all judges and justices named to fill vacancies are appointed "for life" by the governor from a list of candidates compiled by a nine-member Judicial Nomination Commission. After initial appointment, however, they are subject to periodic "retention elections" by the voters--every 10 years for Supreme Court justices and every six years for Superior Court judges. If rejected by a majority of voters, a justice or judge must step down and the governor must appoint a successor.
The Judicial Nomination Commission would have six members appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the legislature, two appointed by the governing board of the unified state bar and one appointed by the legislature. Four of the nine members are to be nonlawyers.
A judge could be removed from the bench if convicted of a felony or found to have engaged in "willful misconduct in office, willful and persistent failure to perform judicial duties" or other similar conduct as determined by a state Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.
The commission has five members, two appointed by the unified state bar, two by the governor and one by the legislature. Two of the five are nonlawyers.
Persons are eligible to vote in the new state if they:
* Are at least 18 years old.
* Live either in the new state or in the federal enclave that will remain in downtown Washington with the establishment of the new state's boundaries.
* Have not been imprisoned for a felony or designated mentally incompetent by a court.
This article provides for compulsory education of all residents between the ages of 6 and 18, except for those who complete high school before 18. Educational standards established by the state will apply to all schools, public and private.
Public elementary and high schools are to be controlled by a nine-member state Board of Education. Eight members are to be elected from individual districts within the state; the ninth is to be a high school student elected by fellow students. The student member is to have full voting rights on the board.
The board shall appoint a state Superintendent of Public Instruction and determine his pay and powers.
The board is to prepare its own budget, which may be increased or decreased in total sum by the legislature "but not in a line-item manner."
A 14-member state Board of Higher Education would be responsible for the new state's university and "such other institutions of higher learning as may be established by law." Eight of the 14 members are to be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the legislature. One member each is appointed by the alumni, graduate students and undergraduate students of the university. The governor, president of the House of Delegates and Superintendent of Public Instruction would be ex-officio members with no voting powers.
The constitution prohibits the state from providing any financial support, "either directly or indirectly," to private or religious schools "unless earmarked for a program of public service."
Finance and Taxation
Fiscal, accounting and budget matters are based on biennial, or 24-month, cycles. The governor is required to submit to the legislature a balanced budget estimate, specifying anticipated expenditures as well as revenues for each 24-month period.
The state may incur indebtedness "only by authorization of the House of Delegates and only by issuing general obligation bonds for capital projects, revenue notes in anticipation of revenues, and negotiable notes to meet appropriations." Long-term debt service may not exceed 14 percent of revenues in any biennial fiscal period.
The House of Delegates has the power to levy taxes but is prohibited from taxing "retail groceries and prescription drugs and other medicines."
Also, tax exemptions may not be granted to private properties, except when they are used exclusively for "nonprofit, religious, educational or charitable purposes." The state additionally may not appropriate funds or donate property to aid any private or religious organization, including "any private school, academy, seminary, college [or] university."
Banking and Corporations
The government shall establish:
* A state Banking Commission, to regulate state-chartered financial institutions.
* A state Depositors Insurance Fund System.
* A state Economic Development Bank to make loans to individuals unable to obtain them through conventional lending institutions.
* Laws to reglulate corporations, credit unions, unincorporated enterprises and other business entitites in the state.
Land and Environment
Every 10 years, the governor must submit to the public a "comprehensive land use plan" containing objectives "consistent with the public welfare." The plan requires the recommendations of a gubernatorially appointed Citizen Advisory Planning Commission.
The state shall establish a Zoning Commission and may acquire land through eminent domain "to control future growth, development and land use."
It is the policy of the state to "provide convenient access to effective means of public transportation at reasonable rates." Also, other public utilities--electrical, gas and telephone services--are to be regulated by commissions established by the legislature and must provide adequate services at the "lowest reasonable rates." Unreasonably high rates based on "excessive capital investment" are forbidden."
The state "may acquire, own or operate public utilities and provide their services to consumers."
Health, Housing and Social Services
The legislature shall provide a "network of comprehensive health facilities," including hospitals and clinics, to be supervised by a state Board of Health. Also, the legislature must provide for care and treatment of persons suffering from mental illness, physical disability and retardation.
The state must provide day-care centers and prisons, including facilities for youthful offenders. In addition, it "shall have the power" to care for the elderly, maintain unemployment and workers compensation and "create jobs and . . . provide transfer payments for the purpose of meeting basic human needs."
The right of persons in both private and public employment to bargain collectively and to strike is guaranteed. The right of government workers to strike "shall not be abridged unless the abridgement serves a compelling governmental interest and is narrowly drawn so as to serve that interest, and it is clear that no alternative form of regulation is possible."
Local Government Units
Neighborhoods and other local areas within the state may incorporate themselves as semi-autonomous jurisdictions with their own locally elected officials. They may obtain appropriations from the state legislature for local services, but will not have the authority to tax, zone or enact laws.
The present Advisory Neighborhood Commission system remains intact.
A five-member Reapportionment Commission must reapportion the state's 40 legislative electoral districts within a year after each decennial census, making certain that no district varies by more than 3 percent from the average population of all districts.
Reapportionment Commission members are appointed by the governor from lists of three persons each provided by the president of the House of Delegates and the three political parties that received the most votes in the most recent gubernatorial election.
Initiative, Referendum and Recall
The constitution provides standards for mounting voter efforts at initiative, referendum and recall.
The boundaries of the new state, subject to the approval of Congress, are to be the same as those of the present District of Columbia, except for a small federal enclave to include the Capitol, House and Senate office buildings, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Federal Triangle, Independence Mall and the White House.
Amendment and Revision
The House of Delegates may propose an amendment to the constitution by a two-thirds majority vote of all its members. Thereafter, the proposal must be circulated to the public for at least 90 days before referendum. An amendment must be approved by a simple majority of voters.
Every 10 years after the new state's admission, a constitutional revision convention must be held, if a majority of voters call for it in an election specifically required to make that determination.
The constitution provides for an orderly transfer of authority and administration from the present D.C. government to the government of the new state. Current laws and regulations not inconsistent with the new constitution would remain in effect. Litigation and other actions in the courts "shall continue unaffected."