Proposal 1: Calling a State Constitutional Convention
Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?
Every 20 years, voters are given the opportunity to decide whether a convention should be held to revise or even entirely replace the New York State constitution.
If a majority of New Yorkers votes NO, there will be no convention.
If a majority votes YES, voters will elect delegates to a constitutional convention in November 2018.
The 204 delegates—three from each state senate district and 15 at-large statewide delegates—will assemble in April 2019 to review the state constitution and suggest amendments. Delegates can recommend changes to any part of the constitution, or even rewrite the entire constitution. They will vote on the proposed amendments. Amendments that are approved by a majority of delegates will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide after the convention adjourns.
Amendments approved by voters statewide will take effect on January 1st of the following year. Amendments that are not approved by New York voters will not be enacted.
Reasons to Vote Yes
- We need a constitutional convention because the state legislature has failed to act on the issues we care about. Our state constitution is badly out of date, and needs to be simplified and modernized for the 21st century
- It’s too difficult to change the constitution through legislation; it requires that a constitutional amendment be passed by two consecutive legislatures before the public can vote to adopt it. A convention is our best chance to enact the changes we need.
- The potential benefits outweigh the costs and the risks. Every amendment the convention proposes must be approved by a majority of voters before it takes effect, so unpopular ideas are unlikely to be enacted.
- We need a convention to amend the constitution to enact strong ethics reforms that will put an end to corruption in Albany and achieve a more open state government.
- Our election system is broken and outdated. Important solutions like no-excuse absentee voting, same-day registration, and other election reforms require changes to the state constitution.
- We must make changes to the constitution in order to reorganize and modernize our outdated court system, which would eliminate case backlogs and save money.
- All of our children deserve a great education, and we need the constitution to guarantee that public schools across the state are funded equitably.
- The constitution should reflect our priorities, such as protections for our environment and civil rights. We need an environmental bill of rights and stronger civil rights provisions in the constitution.
Reasons to Vote No
- A convention is unnecessary, because there is a process for the legislature to amend the constitution. In fact, while voters have approved over 200 amendments to the state constitution in the last 100 years, only six of them came from a constitutional convention; the rest were put before the voters by the state legislature. If legislators do not respond to our concerns, we should elect new legislators who will.
- A convention would be expensive, and it will be dominated by political insiders. Legislators can run to be delegates, and if elected they will be paid double. Delegates can hire staff, which will create patronage jobs for the well-connected.
- A convention will benefit special interests, not the public, because the delegate selection process is flawed. Candidates for delegate must collect a large number of petition signatures and raise funds to finance their campaigns. Lobbyists for special interests will target delegates at the convention to try to get good deals for their clients.
- Even though the proposed amendments have to be approved by the voters, we shouldn’t risk losing some of the important protections in our constitution.
- The constitution keeps our state forest preserves “forever wild.” If those protections are weakened, developers and energy companies could be allowed to build on lands reserved for forest and wildlife conservation.
- Our constitution’s commitment to a free public education for all our children and its promise to care for the needy could be subject to attack.
- The constitution’s protection of pensions for public workers could be threatened, and its protections for all workers, including benefits for injured workers and the right to organize and bargain collectively.
Statements Supporting Proposal
Mark H. Alcott, Lawyer
Our state government is corrupt, dysfunctional, undemocratic, an embarrassment. The only way to fix it is through a Constitutional Convention. But the very same entrenched political forces and special interests that benefit from this broken system are spending millions of dollars to convince you to reject the Constitutional Convention. DON’T FALL FOR IT.
They say a Constitutional Convention will undermine civil liberties, conservation protections, pension benefits, minority rights, etc. DON’T FALL FOR IT.
That will not happen. It cannot happen.
The Constitutional Convention cannot make any changes in our constitution. All it can do is propose changes. Those proposals will then be submitted to us, the people, in a referendum. Nothing proposed by the Constitutional Convention will be enacted unless we the people vote our approval.
So when the special interests and the political bosses tell you that a Constitutional Convention will wreak havoc, what they really mean is they don’t want us, the people, to decide. Their real fear is not about civil rights or conservation. Their real fear is that we the people will control the outcome, and they will not. DON’T FALL FOR IT.
Christopher Bopst, Co-Author, The New York State Constitution, 2d ed.
Every twenty years, New Yorkers decide whether the state should hold a constitutional convention. If voters approve a convention, delegates would be elected in November 2018 and the convention would meet in April 2019. Any proposals the convention makes will have to be submitted to voters for approval.
The New York State Constitution needs significant revision. It lacks controls to prevent legislative leaders from gaining unchecked power and promotes a system in which more state legislators leave office under criminal prosecution or investigation than by being voted out of office. It stifles voter participation by prohibiting same day voter registration and no-excuse absentee balloting. It creates a convoluted court system that results in a needless half-billion dollars per year in inefficiencies. It contains no right to clean air or clean water.
The legislature, over the last forty years, has been unwilling or unable to solve these and other problems plaguing our state, and there is no reason to believe a transformation will take place in the next twenty. A “yes” vote represents a decision to try another method of reform. Let’s not squander another generation!
Vote Yes & at the Convention RRNY will propose:
A. Regulated Adult Use Cannabis Market
- 700 lives saved from opioid overdose death/yr
- 50,000 high-paying union jobs w full benefits & worker protections
- worker W2's for banking & housing
- Union apprenticeship programs
- $500,000 new regulatory & tax rev/yr
- $138,000 new income tax rev/yr
- Underage access dramatically reduced
- New Yorkers protected from mold, mildew, pesticides & other contaminates
- Home growing allowed
B. Robust MMJ Program
- MMJ treatment for all ailments allowed unless adverse effect proven
- All forms of ingestion allowed
- Insurance coverage for MMJ
- Tax-exempt MMJ
- Doctors trained at no charge
- Unlimited number of dispensaries
C. Industrial Hemp as Commodity Crop
- Licenses to grow hemp no more restrictive than tobacco
- No FBI background checks to grow hemp or marijuana
- Hemp processing facilities established in rural NY
D. Remediation of Social Injustice
- Low level drug offenders released from prison
- Felony convictions erased for low-level drug offenders
- Community re-investment funds established for communities affected by war on drugs
- No asset seizures w/o conviction
Michael A. Cardozo, Attorney
A constitutional convention is needed to fix our broken New York State Government.
Corruption, evidenced by numerous scandals, highlights the need for a constitutionally mandated strong independent ethics enforcement agency.
Voter participation in New York is one of the lowest in the country primarily because the constitution prevents early voting on Election Day or on-line registration.
New York has 11 different trial courts (more than almost any other state). Consolidating those courts would save more than $600 million annually. New York has four intermediate appellate courts but requires that more than 60% of all intermediate appeals be heard only in the Second Department. The only persons who can serve on New York’s intermediate courts are Supreme Court judges, not other judges or lawyers. Supreme Court judges are neither appointed under a merit system nor selected by the voters; instead, they are chosen exclusively by political leaders.
The Legislature can impose unfunded mandates to spend on localities despite their objections and can overrule, on a simple showing of “state interest,” decisions reached by local governments.
The Legislature’s repeated failure to propose constitutional amendments to address these and other needed reforms demonstrates that only a constitutional convention can affect the necessary changes.
Citizens Union urges a YES vote for the state constitutional convention. The democratic process in New York is fundamentally broken, and this is our chance to fix it. Incumbents insulate themselves from challenge, voter turnout is abysmal and billions of public dollars are spent without accountability. A constitutional convention will give the voters a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overcome the corruption and paralysis in Albany and propose fundamental reforms like early voting, public financing of elections, effective ethics regulation, enhanced civil rights, authentic local home rule, and reasonable term limits. All measures the convention proposes are subject to voter approval. For the first time in history, the election of delegates will allow substantial representation of women and people of color as convention delegates, and Citizens Union will work to ensure that the most qualified delegates are elected. Opposition to the convention has been largely based upon false fears, like the threat of revoking current public pensions, which are protected by the US Constitution. Voters should reject such fears, and seek to rebuild a state government that works for all of us.
Evan A. Davis, Committee for a Constitutional Convention
We need a Constitutional Convention to clean up and reinvigorate our state government.
A Convention is our only way to revise or amend the Constitution without the approval of the Legislature, and this chance happens only once every 20 years.
We all know there are needed reforms that year after year Albany law-makers have failed to approve. Corruption in Albany is a problem with numerous scandals involving both parties and both political branches of government. We need a strong, independent enforcement agency to punish ethics violations and breaches of the public trust by legislators and state officials.
Other states adopted voting reforms to make it easier to vote, but New York hasn’t. This particularly hurts New York City whose voter participation is far lower than that in the worst State in the country.
A Constitutional Convention can make these and other important changes such as guaranteeing the right to clean air and healthy water, strengthening the Constitution to guarantee a high quality public education, and protecting all marginalized and threatened people by insuring inclusive equal rights. Term limits can be debated.
State government in Albany has had its chance—and has failed. The time has come for us to act.
Forward March NY
New York law is not as progressive as some may think. Since our legislature is controlled by Republicans, necessary changes to our constitution—like the passage of the RHA—will not happen via the traditional route of legislative action. A constitutional convention is necessary if we want to make progressive changes to New York's laws. The changes that Forward March advocates for include:
- Equality for women under the constitution and protections against sex- or gender-based discrimination, particularly for trans people, which NY law does not currently include
- Protecting access to abortion by codifying Roe v. Wade
- Voting Reform, including the creation of early voting
- Environmental protections: making access to clean air and water a human right
- Providing for affordable healthcare for New Yorkers
- Education reform, including fair disbursement of state education funds
- Protections against corruption and gerrymandering
- Criminal justice reform: demanding accountability and transparency from our police
- Judicial reform to simplify our overcomplicated court system
Peter J Galie, Professor Emeritus, Canisius College
A New Beginning
New York’s Constitution:
- Is a 50,000 word bloated behemoth stuffed with obsolete phrases, unnecessary material, and provisions that have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
- Establishes a court structure that is so convoluted and complex that those who come before it are not infrequently required to endure the delay and expense of appearing before two or three different courts costing the state and the taxpayers millions in unnecessary costs.
- Sustains a legislature mired in a pay-to-pay culture that has caused a loss of trust among citizen, and made it highly unlikely that it will act on proposals such as term limits, an independent ethics and investigative commission, limits on outside income, an independent redistricting commission, and campaign finance reform.
- Promises home rule for New York City & and other local governments but permits the legislature to impose unfunded mandates that undercut local autonomy.
- Requires that the general obligation debt of the state be approved by voters in a referendum; yet 94% of all state debt has not been approved by the voters.
New Yorkers have an opportunity to change this on November 7th.
Priscilla Grim, Communications and Marketing, Citizens Union
I am writing today to encourage all to vote “Yes” this November to start the process of a State Constitutional Convention. New Yorkers secured protections from every previous convention, and with possibilities of modern transparency, we have everything to gain. The State Constitution guarantees many needed rights from pension to environmental protections that could be strengthened with a convention.
Those who want to squash this process, do not trust in New Yorkers. We can build a true convention of the people by innovating democratic process, with a modern state constitutional convention.
In 2017, the State Senate rejected 19 pieces of proposed legislation and spent 13 billion dollars in the shadows of state government. If Albany were up to implementing good government initiatives, this meeting would be unnecessary.
All in New York are looking for a concrete way forward. One of the best ways is with a convention representative of the people. New York is ranked top in the world for bringing together technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, where health is a public priority, and public transportation is paramount.
Vote Yes on the Nov. 7 ballot referendum to hold a New York State Constitutional Convention.
The League of Women Voters of New York State
The League of Women Voters of New York State is supporting a Constitutional Convention because we believe a 2019 Convention could bring change to benefit all New Yorkers. The League believes that democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens. Our current state Constitution does not allow for a truly representative government free of corruption and waste.
A Constitutional Convention could introduce voting reforms that will bring New York’s elections into the 21st century, as well as ethics reforms and effective enforcement to root out corruption and reduce the influence of money in our political system. Legislative redistricting could be completely removed from sitting legislators and an antiquated court system could be streamlined and modernized, making it more effective. We would also hope to see provisions to reinforce and strengthen our bill of rights to guarantee personal freedoms and ensure basic human needs are met.
Tristan Louis, CEO
NY State needs a constitutional convention to help our essential charter documents evolve in a new era. Since the last changes to the state's constitution (in 1938!), the rise of the Internet and digital technology, new environmental threats, and an expansion of civil rights have defined the new realities of the world we live in. As a result, it is high time for us to consider the impact of those fundamental shifts on our existing governance model and ensure that the societal changes we have witnessed over the last 80 years are properly reflected in our constitution.
Elizabeth Melas, Self-Employed
Disability rights are human rights. Growing up as a non-disabled person, I knew that. Now that I’m disabled, I’m wondering why my government has conveniently forgotten. Am I still a person? Of course, I am. I may use a walker or wheelchair, I may need the hormones from birth control, Medicaid, and elevators in a subway station, but I’m worth the extra trouble. If the Single Payer Bill, passed by the New York State Assembly in 2016 and blocked by the State Senate, were added to the NYS Constitution, I, and millions of others would see an improvement in our quality of life, nearly immediately. Vote yes on proposition one, for a New York State Constitutional Convention and vote for the future of all who live in New York State.
Amanda A Mustafic, Publicist
A Constitution is a living document, and has the strength to stand up under scrutiny and amendment. I believe it's important to go over our Constitution and ensure that it meets the needs of New Yorkers today.
New Kings Democrats
New Kings Democrats support a New York State Constitutional Convention. It is a rare chance for the people of New York to come together to transform a broken system, giving us the opportunity to:
- Enact meaningful campaign finance reform to get big money out of our state and local politics.
- Close the LLC loophole that allows corporations to evade campaign contribution limits.
- Keep corrupt lawmakers convicted of defrauding the public from receiving taxpayer-funded pensions.
- Protect the right to vote by guaranteeing automatic voter registration, allowing online registration, and creating oversight mechanisms for state and local Boards of Election.
- Restore the right to vote to people involved in the criminal justice system.
- Adopt strict disclosure requirements for public officials, campaigns, and lobbyists.
We know that our vision for a progressive government can not be realized without a government that is democratically accountable. All New Yorkers, whether we're Democrats, Republicans, or Independents agree that we need to clean up Albany.
New York State Bar Association, Sharon Stern Gerstman, President
New York’s Constitution is broken. A convention is the best way to fix it.
The Constitution was created with the intent that every generation have an opportunity to consider amendments or a new constitution. The last Constitution was written in 1894; the last major changes were adopted in 1938. Today, much of it is obsolete or was ruled unconstitutional.
A convention would allow for adding voting rights such as same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting or early voting.
The costly, complicated court system could be reorganized and simplified so courts are easier to navigate, more cost-effective and efficient. The current system operates under outdated provisions. Issues central to its functioning have not been adequately addressed by the Legislature, complicating the delivery of justice.
Regarding Home Rule, unfunded mandates and the Legislature needlessly involved in local issues like the NYC Transit System, or education, places burdens on local taxpayers.
Protecting rights to clean air and water and safeguarding parks and forests could also be provided for.
Our Legislature has not tackled any of these issues. Only a convention can effect the real change we need.
If we vote to convene a Constitutional Convention on 11.7.17, it will allow New Yorkers to begin to fix some nagging, persistent problems in our government. These include, Campaign Finance Reform in Albany, Term Limits for state legislators, Voting Reform so that we can have Early Voting and No Excuse Absentee Voting and District Lines that are drawn in an impartial way. We must not let fear get in the way of this tremendous opportunity.
Julia Rogawski, Attorney
New York law is not as progressive as some may think, and there are changes that need to happen in New York that are not possible without either constitutional amendments or legislative action. Since our legislature is controlled by Republicans, and because constitutional amendments in the absence of a constitutional convention require legislative action, a constitutional convention is necessary if we want to make progressive changes to New York’s laws. The changes that I hope to see include:
Codification of Roe v. Wade—New Yorkers need to have control over their reproductive rights in the event that the Supreme Court case ever gets overturned.
Creation of early voting and no-fault absentee voting—we need to improve voter turnout in New York, which is currently ranked the 49th lowest in terms of voter turnout in the country.
Fair disbursement of state education funds and other educational reform—the New York constitution requires only that the State teach basic skills and educational funds are not fairly distributed among the State’s schools.
Today’s progressives can use this tool to bring our constitution and NY into the 21st century by voting yes on the referendum on Nov 7th. We can insure equality for women and trans people, we can allow early voting and same day registration, which our constitution currently prohibits. We can improve labor standards by including a right to paid sick leave for all full time workers, and cost of living increases to our state minimum wage. We can update and codify reproductive rights, we can mandate ethics reform, fully non partisan redistricting, we can create a full time legislature with no outside income. We can insure cases where people are killed in police custody are given state jurisdiction, we can reform cash bail and streamline our courts, we can legalize recreational marijuana. We can even, like bold progressives of the past, create an even greater safety net in our state by including a right to healthcare. We can make our state a place where many of Trumps harmful policies stop at our borders. Our state can be a progressive sanctuary if we remake the constitution to reflect who we are.
Statements Opposing Proposal
A convention unnecessarily risks weakening or eliminating the current “Forever Wild” clause (Article 14, Section 1) of the constitution. Forever Wild is the strongest forest protection law in the world. It remains strong because it cannot be repealed or weakened by the Legislature. Only the voters may alter it.
Forever Wild protects drinking water and more than 3 million acres of Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve from logging, lease, sale, development and destruction. It safeguards nearly all of the motor-free wilderness and never-logged, ancient forest remaining in the Northeast.
There is corruption in Albany. Special interests that block needed reforms and support weakening “Forever Wild” will control the convention. Delegates are elected by NYS Senate districts. Campaign finance laws leave reformers and Forever Wild supporters at a distinct disadvantage. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United ensures that corporations may make campaign contributions. New York’s “LLC loophole” means limited liability companies can make virtually unlimited contributions. Out-of-state corporations can exert enormous influence over who is elected and why.
Adirondack Mountain Club
The Board of Directors of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) have voted to oppose the holding of a constitutional convention in 2019. The primary reason for our opposition was deep concerns that the “forever wild clause” of the state constitution, Article XIV, section 1, which preserves the wilderness, waters and forests of the Adirondacks and Catskills would be greatly weakened by the delegates to the convention, particularly all-terrain vehicle and motorized recreation adherents. We also fear that a proposal to allow changes that would permit the placement and operation of “Hut to Hut” lodging facilities on these precious public lands. Moreover, all recent amendments to the “forever wild” clause have needed enabling legislation in order to properly describe the constitutional change. The constitutional convention schedule and process does not provide any opportunity for the legislative passage of necessary enabling legislation. ADK leadership was also deeply concerned about the selection and make-up of constitutional delegates would be dominated by traditional politicians and special interests.
Jennifer Baratta, Office Clerk, Helen Keller Services for the Blind
My friends and family are worried about the pensions. Specific if they go away and never return.
Citizen Action of New York
Citizen Action of New York strongly opposes a Constitutional Convention. A convention grants a handful of delegates enormous power to rewrite our State Constitution. It opens the door for CEOs and billionaires to bend the rules in their favor.
If the convention passes, delegates will be elected from gerrymandered state senate districts, giving wealthy corporate interests the opportunity to elect delegates who want to take away the rights and values enshrined in our Constitution.
The New York State Constitution provides a progressive foundation for our state. The document protects our natural environment, our rights as workers, and the rights of our children to receive a quality, basic education. A convention threatens to weaken and undermine these vital protections.
Citizen Action is committed to passing progressive reforms through the existing legislative process. A state convention is yet another opportunity for the wealthy to profit at the expense of our basic rights. New Yorkers must stand up and say “no” to a Constitutional Convention.
Conservative Party of NYS
The New York State Conservative Party has been a longtime outspoken organization against the idea of holding a Constitutional Convention. The Convention held in 1967, which Chairman Michael R. Long participated in, was a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and if one was held now, it would cost taxpayers even more money and be controlled by the same special interests that already have a strong presence in the legislative process.
The fact that two additional proposals are on the ballot, reinforces our position that there is a process in place that allows the NYS Constitution to be amended, when necessary, without the added immense cost of holding a convention.
Anthony M. Figliola; Author, Patronage, Waste and Favoritism - A Dark History of Constitutional Conventions; Vice President, Empire Government Strategies
Unlike in years past, there is no pressing issue that is creating a wave of support for the taxpayers to spend over $100 million on another government boondoggle.
Pay no attention to the proponent’s ruse, which uses voter cynicism of politics to make false promises that the people will run the convention. History proves these conventions are nothing more than carbon copies of a typical legislative session, where special interests and the political establishment control the process. During our last convention in ’67, 80 percent of the delegates were politically connected and 45 percent were current/former public officials who collected a second salary allowing them to double dip, boosting their state pensions.
What’s at stake for city residents should we hold a convention: reduction in public education aid; rollback of environmental laws that protect NYC’s drinking water; elimination of public pensions; abolition of public housing and care for the indigent.
Public referendums are a less costly and proven alternative to a convention. The constitution has been amended 200 times using this process, including a vote this year on stripping pensions from pols convicted of a felony.
Jerry H. Goldfeder, Election and Campaign Finance Attorney/Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
Neither disappointment with Albany nor unrealistic optimism should persuade voters to support a convention.
Instead, a clear-eyed analysis and healthy skepticism compels a No vote. Two reasons override all else.
(1) The manner by which delegates to a convention would be selected is inherently flawed—three from each state senate district, the totality of which skews to suburban and upstate communities; and fifteen at-large state delegates, who may represent institutional interests inconsistent with New York City voters’ needs.
(2) A wholesale revamping of the constitution, especially in this uncertain political time, could undermine if not eliminate reproductive, environmental and worker protections.
Sure, at the end of the process, all voters would have to adopt any convention proposals. But we cannot afford a three year process, at untold cost to taxpayers, that may engender fierce divisions. A convention with unbridled authority poses too many risks.
A better solution? More efficacious efforts to persuade the legislature to enact the kind of election, campaign finance and ethics reform New Yorkers need.
Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition; Michael Feinberg, Director
We oppose a Constitutional Convention as unnecessary and potentially open to undue pressure and abuse by special interest groups which could undo some of our most important state guaranteed rights and protections.
Helen Hershkoff, Professor of Law
Vote no against holding a state constitutional convention. A convention opens up the State Constitution to complete revision. A convention could gut all of the constitution’s existing rights and protections. These include the right to a free basic education, the state’s duty to provide assistance to the poor, basic worker protections, and the state’s obligation to maintain some public land “forever wild.” In the current climate—with no checks on outside money—a convention could dial back rights, and not enlarge or extend them. A convention could harm the very people it is supposed to protect: low-wage and middle-class workers who don’t have health insurance and can’t pay the rent; public workers who could lose pensions; non-citizens who are hungry or homeless; and, low-income LGBTIQ New Yorkers who need services. Of course, New York needs reform: we need to make the state more efficient, less corrupt, and more attentive to problems of economic insecurity. But a convention is the wrong approach during a time of federal cutbacks and political uncertainty. We should organize and seek positive changes through referendum or legislation. Vote no: don’t put your rights at risk.
Arthur Jerry Kremer, President, Empire Government Strategies
I strongly oppose a yes vote. A convention would be a carbon copy of a legislative session. Same lobbyists, same issues and over $100 million in cost. In 1967 over 80 per cent of the delegates were elected officials so there is no chance of any real change. There are many out of state groups that are anxious to spend money influencing a convention. This could be a disaster.
New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Vincent Alvarez, President
A New York State constitutional convention (Con Con) is bad news for working people. The Con Con is being pushed by unaccountable insiders – lobbyists, moneyed special interest groups, and others, seeking to amend the constitution to help pad their pockets and push their own agendas. Allowing these groups to open the constitution for revisions could affect retirement security, environmental preservation, and even the ability to provide free, public education to our children. The benefits that today’s workers have fought for, and those won by the working men and women who came before us, could be gone with the stroke of a pen.
There is already an open and democratic process in place to make needed changes. Simply put, these amendments can and should be made legislatively.
A Con Con would be a waste of time and taxpayer dollars, and it would add an additional, unnecessary layer of governmental red tape. Working people in NYC are united against a Con Con, a process we believe would waste hard-earned tax dollars on an unnecessary pet project put forth by lobbyists and others who are looking out for themselves.
New York State AFL-CIO; Mario Cliento, President
Mario Cilento, President
New York State AFL-CIO
Today, more than ever, the freedom of working men and women to have a voice in the workplace is under attack by the corporate right wing that seeks aggressive deregulation and an agenda to drive down wages. A Constitutional Convention would be the perfect vehicle to achieve their goal of silencing working people.
Our Constitution guarantees a long list of protections and rights including prevailing rate on construction projects, collective bargaining, pensions, education funding and care and benefits for injured workers.
Opponents of the labor movement are misleading voters with false claims that this will be a “people’s convention.” The entire process would be controlled by well-funded special interests and their lobbyists who would take advantage of the system to rewrite the state constitution to weaken workers’ rights and protections. Further, elected officials including state legislators can run to be delegates, collect double their salary, and in past conventions, earned additional pension credits. So, the same political leaders and party insiders ultimately will control the process
Vote “no” on proposal 1 to stop those who want nothing more than to take away our rights.
NY State Conference Chair TWU of America AFL-CIO
The delegate system as proposed will have the potential to line the pockets of those who already have the power, but not the desire, to change the political climate in Albany. A Constitutional Convention will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in annual delegate salaries of $80K. Any changes are not guaranteed and are only empty promises for change.
New York State Right to Life Committee
Governor Cuomo's support for late term abortion is a consistent and central theme of his administration. Governor Cuomo has made repeated and pointed statements on the issue. In the event a Constitutional Convention is convened, NYSRTL committee has no doubt Governor Cuomo will work to codify late term abortion on demand into law. He will make it available anytime up till and including on the day of an "unwanted" live birth. Given these realities we cannot support a constitutional convention at this time.
Cara Noel, Communications Director
Simply put, a NYS constitutional convention would hurt working people. Allowing moneyed special interest groups and lobbyists to push their agendas, at the expense of working people, is a disaster waiting to happen. Workers and our rights are under attack all over the country—just ask Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and even Donald Trump. There is a better way to make changes to the state constitution, and it’s called the New York State legislature. Let’s not create a bureaucratic nightmare, and further hurt working people in the name of faux transparency. Let’s let the folks who have been hired to do the work, do it, and act in the best interest of working men and women—the people who put them into office.
Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts
We recommend voting no on Proposal Question 1 because it jeopardizes New Yorkers’ rights and health.
Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts believes in empowering all New Yorkers and supports a process that has checks and balances and cannot be manipulated by special interests. A constitutional convention by-passes our legislative process and leaves our hard-won reproductive health care and rights at the mercy of big-pocketed special interest groups with regressive agendas and conservative outsiders with big wallets that can drag our state backward.
In these perilous times with extremists bent on rolling back our access to reproductive health, we do not see the constitutional convention as a safe way to protect our reproductive rights because we could easily lose more than we gain. We believe the legislative and constitutional amendment process is the safest and most inclusive way to strengthen our laws and protect all New Yorkers, especially those who are underrepresented.
Vote no on Proposal Question 1
Protect the Adirondacks; Peter Bauer, Executive Director
Here are the reasons to VOTE NO on Proposal 1 on the question of holding a Constitutional Convention.
1. A constitutional convention is a threat to the 3-million-acre public "forever wild" Forest Preserve that is protected under the state constitution. A strong effort will be made to start logging the state’s wildlands with disastrous consequences.
2. If a constitutional convention is held, convention delegates will be elected based on heavily gerrymandered State Senate districts. The delegates to the convention will look like the conservative State Senate and not like New Yorkers.
3. Big money will overwhelm the election of delegates who will serve special interests, not the people.
4. Current state legislators will dominate convention delegates. Because it will be very expensive to run for election of convention delegates, the current crop of elected representatives will enjoy a special advantage.
5. Governor Andrew Cuomo disbanded his own ethics commission; do you trust him to write a new constitution? State legislators are incapable of passing comprehensive ethics legislation; do you trust them to write a new constitution?
Vote No on Proposal 1.
Public Employees Federation (PEF)
The Public Employees Federation is adamantly opposed to a NYS Constitutional Convention. A Constitutional Convention would give delegates unbridled power to change longstanding policies and programs. What’s at stake:
- the right to unionize and bargain collectively
- public pension protections
- public education
- voting rights
- the environment
- a social safety net
A Constitutional Convention could cost up to 100 million dollars, at the taxpayers’ expense. A process already exists to amend the state constitution that doesn’t cost a thing. The last time a convention took place it was a complete failure; voters rejected every proposed constitutional change.
Edward Santos, Community Activist
I do not support a Constitutional Convention in NY State. Currently, the State Constitution protects workers through a myriad of measures. Our Constitution protects the middle-class individual, tenants and children. Our Constitution provides safeguards our education system, it ensures our public pension, and it promotes a safety net. A Constitutional Convention could lead to rolling back protections that support and lift up New York’s working class. Constitutional conventions lend itself to radical modifications, which could result in a completely changed rewrite. Our current system has a mechanism to make amendments and changes. Right now, at a time of uncertainty, we do not need to completely change the rights and expectations that every New Yorker has.
Teamsters Joint Council 16
A Constitutional Convention is a bad idea for anyone who cares about our rights as New Yorkers. If a convention happens, all the rights currently protected by the constitution will be on the table, as will a host of new restrictions pushed by moneyed interests. As workers, as women, as people of color, as immigrants, as New Yorkers, we need to defend our rights by voting “no” on a Constitutional Convention.
Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 764 IATSE; Patricia A. White, President
Voters should oppose a Constitutional Convention, and vote NO on Proposition 1. Our legislators are already able to amend the Constitution by passing amendments and submitting them to voters, as they did successfully five times in 2013 and three times in 2014. Furthermore, proponents of the “Con Con” have not put forth any concrete plan for how to elect good delegates and keep bad elements, moneyed interests, and regular Albany insiders from controlling the process. The potential harm to workers—union and non union alike—from loss of protections for labor rights is not a risk worth taking. In fact, it is difficult to even predict what issues would dominate a Constitutional Convention. Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars in this risky and irresponsible way? Vote NO on Proposition 1.
TWU Local 100
TWU Local 100 Says Vote ‘NO’ on Nov. 7th to a NY State Constitutional Convention. Here’s why:
Our Pensions: The State Constitution guarantees that pension benefits for everyone currently in a public pension fund CANNOT be diminished.
Our Union Contract: The Constitution guarantees the right to collective bargaining for public sector unions. A Constitutional Convention would almost certainly do away with this crucial right to good jobs and wages.
Civil Service: The Constitution provides that all workers have equal access to public sector jobs, including transit jobs. A Constitutional Convention will open up a Pandora's Box to discrimination, favoritism and nepotism hiring.
Our Children's Education: The NY State Constitution guarantees the right to a free public education.
Having a Constitutional Convention threatens Workers Compensation: This is especially dangerous to transit workers and employees that face serious on the job injuries.
Election of Judges: A Constitutional Convention opens our judicial system to many levels of corruption.
A Convention would cost taxpayers more than $300 million.