On Nov. 7, voters will have three ballot proposals to consider as well as selecting candidates for various offices. Proposal #1 deals with whether the state should convene a Constitutional Convention to propose and consider various changes to the New York State Constitution.
Proponents of this measure cite the need for various reforms, including, for example, changes in campaign finance laws, a proposal for term limits for state legislators and for changes in voting procedures that encourage voter participation as just some of the issues that a Constitutional Convention could address. Many of the proposals could be beneficial to the residents of our state.
However, opponents say that procedures are already in place for the Legislature to consider these and other changes to the Constitution without the need for a Constitutional Convention.
They also point out that there are a multitude of measures in the Constitution that protect the citizens of the state that could be changed at a Constitutional Convention by those with special interests and regressive agendas.
If Proposal #1 passes, there would be an election in 2018 for delegates to the Convention, with the Convention convening in 2019 to consider all of the possible changes. Those proposals would then be brought to the voters for their approval or disapproval. There is a fear that there may be delegates elected who would be backed by special interests, many of which have huge financial resources.
Those delegates would then have sway over what is ultimately decided to present to the voters and those issues may reflect the wishes of the special interests who backed those particular delegates.
It has been suggested that there could be changes brought forward that would undermine measures that are already in place in the state Constitution that protect workers, tenants and others. Changes to our educational system may also be under consideration by proponents of those who do not support public education. It even has been suggested that those state employees who have retired with pensions could face changes in benefits as a result of a Constitutional Convention.
Some environmental groups fear that the “Forever Wild” clause in our state Constitution that protects our state forests and natural areas could be up for change or repeal by special interests which wish to use public protected lands for their own benefit. This proposal for a Constitutional Convention is a Pandora’s Box!
The cost of a Constitutional Convention also is problematic. I have heard estimates that it would cost from $47 million up to $300 million to pull off this project. Wouldn’t that taxpayer money be better spent on programs that benefit our young people, our seniors and those less fortunate? Or how about a tax break for everyone?
When you consider all of the pros and cons of holding a Constitutional Convention, it would seem that a “No” vote for Proposal #1 wins the contest. Remember to turn over your ballot to find the three proposals on Election Day.
©2017 Community News Group
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