The Iowa State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse

This website provides news, pro & con, historical, and other information related to Iowa’s constitutionally mandated November 3, 2020 referendum on whether to call a state constitutional convention.

Evolution of Iowa’s Constitutional Amendment Rules 

Congress passed via statutes the Organic Act for the Wisconsin Territory in 1836 and the Organic Act for the Iowa Territory in 1838. Congress could also amend those acts via statute.  The relevant amendment rule is thus Article V of the U.S. Constitution as implemented by the relevant sessions of Congress.

Constitution of 1844 (proposed by convention but not ratified by the people so never holding the force of law)

ARTICLE 2.
Bill of rights.

2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.

ARTICLE XII.
On amendments to the constitution.

1. Any amendment or amendments to this constitution may be proposed in the senate or house of representatives;  and, if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each of the two houses, such proposed amendment shall be entered on their journals, with the yeas and nays thereon, and referred to the General Assembly then next to be chosen, and shall be published for three months previous to the time of making ·such choice; and if in the General Assembly then next chosen as aforesaid, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house, then it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people, in such manner aud at such time as the General Assembly shall prescribe; and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of all the qualified electors of the State voting for and against said amendment or amendments voting in their favor, such amendment or amendments shall become part of this constitution. When any amendment or amendments to this constitution shall be proposed in pursuance of the foregoing provisions, the same shall, at each of the said sessions, be read three several days in each house. The General Assembly shall not propose the same amendments to this constitution oftener than once in six years.

2. And if, at any time, two-thirds of the senate and house of representatives shall think it necessary to revise or change this constitution, they shall recommend to the electors at the next election for members of the legislature to vote for or against a convention; and if it shalt appear that a majority of the electors voting at such election have voted in favor of calling a convention, the legislature shall, at its next session, provide by law for calling a convention, to be holden within six months after the passage of such law, and such convention shall consist of a number of members
not less than of both branches of the legislature.

Constitution of 1846

ARTICLE 1.
BILL OF RIGHTS.

2. Political power. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.

ARTICLE 10.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.


1. If at any time the general assembly shall think it necessary to revise or amend this constitution, they shall provide by law for a vote of the people for or against a convention, at the next ensuing election for members of the general assembly. In case a majority of the people vote in favor of a convention, said general assembly shall provide for an election of delegates to a convention, to be held within six months after the vote of the people in favor thereof.

Constitution of 1857

ARTICLE 1.
BILL OF RIGHTS.

Political power.  SEC. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have the right, at all times, to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.

ARTICLE X.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.

How proposed — submission. SECTION 1. Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in either House of the General Assembly; and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each of the two Houses, such proposed
amendment shall be entered on their journals, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the Legislature to be chosen at the next general election, and shall be published, as provided by law, for three months previous to the time of making such choice; and if, in the
General Assembly so next chosen as aforesaid, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to, by a majority of all the members elected to each House, then it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people, in such manner, and at such time as the General Assembly shall provide; and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly, voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of the Constitution of this State.

More than one amendment. SEC. 2. If two or more amendments shall be submitted at the same time, they shall be submitted in such manner that the electors shall vote for or against each of such amendments separately.

Convention. SEC. 3. [At the general election to be held in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy, and in each tenth year thereafter, and also at such times as the General Assembly may, by law, provide, the question, “Shall there be a Convention to revise the Constitution, and amend the same?” shall be decided by the electors qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly; and in case a majority of the electors so qualified, voting
at such election, for and against such proposition, shall decide in favor of a Convention for such purpose, the General Assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such Convention.]*

*In 1964 this section was repealed and a substitute adopted in lieu thereof:

 

Amendment of 1964

[Amendment 22] Section three (3) of Article ten (X) of the Constitution of the State of Iowa is repealed and the following adopted in lieu thereof:

Constitutional convention. SEC. 3. At the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred and seventy, and in each tenth year thereafter, and also at such times as the General Assembly may, by law, provide, the question, “Shall there be a Convention to revise the Constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?” shall be decided by the electors qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly; and in case a majority of the electors so qualified, voting at such election, for and against such proposition, shall decide in favor of a Convention for such purpose, the General Assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such Convention, and for submitting the results of said Convention to the people, in such manner and at such time as the General Assembly shall provide; and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly, voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of the constitution of this state. If two or more amendments shall be submitted at the same time, they shall be submitted in such a manner that electors may vote for or against each such amendment separately.

Source: The Iowa Legislature. Available at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/statutory/constitution/constConventions?year=1844

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/statutory/constitution/constConventions?year=1846

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/statutory/constitution/constConventions?year=1857

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