The growing dysfunction, gridlock and partisanship in Albany have become so damaging to New York’s economy, hurtful to taxpayers and poisonous to public trust in state government that bold action must be taken, which is why Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) today announced he is introducing legislation to call for the convening of a “People’s Constitutional Convention.”
Every 20 years, the question of whether New York State should convene a Constitutional Convention is placed before the voters. The question of calling a Constitutional Convention also can be provided by an act of the Legislature and then consequently submitted for voter approval. Constitutional Conventions in New York State have previously been called in 1777, 1801, 1846, 1867, 1894, 1938 and 1967, respectively. The question of calling a Constitutional Convention was last placed before the voters in 1997, when it was defeated.
Kolb is the only Legislative Leader in state government to call for, and introduce legislation that puts before voters the question of, convening a Constitutional Convention. In order to ensure it is truly a “People’s Constitutional Convention,” Kolb said he will publicly call on elected officials and registered lobbyists to not run as delegates.
Kolb’s legislation would allow for the question of convening a Constitutional Convention to be put before voters on the ballot in the 2010 elections, when all 212 state legislators and four statewide offices are up for election or re-election. Kolb outlined some of the issues for consideration and study as part of a reform agenda at a People’s Constitutional Convention:
- State spending cap
- Real property tax cap
- Debt reform and banning backdoor borrowing
- Requiring a 2/3 “Super Majority” for tax increases
- Recall of state elected officials
- Initiative and referendum
- Term limits for Legislative Leaders
- Non-partisan redistricting reform
- Establish a procedure to fill vacancies of Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller and any vacancies for either of New York’s U.S. Senators
- State budget reform
- Constitutional Convention reform to prohibit future delegates from holding public or political office
“An alarming collusion between the special interests and Albany’s entrenched status quo has drowned out the people’s voice from state government. It’s time the people were heard – one of the best ways to accomplish this is through holding a Constitutional Convention,” Kolb said.
“We need a Constitutional Convention that is 100 percent of the people, by the people, and for the people. This is why I will publicly call on elected officials and registered lobbyists to not run as delegates or serve in the Convention. In order to truly be a People’s Constitutional Convention, it should be non-partisan, representative of the diverse demography and geography of our state, and be comprised of citizen legislators who can bring Main Street values and common sense to fixing the problems plaguing state government,” Kolb stated.
“Our Conference has not been alone in calling for comprehensive reforms in how state government operates. Countless grassroots, good government groups have been advocating similar reforms, only to fall on Albany’s deaf ears. It has become clear the only way real change is going to happen is if the people make it happen – and enough New Yorkers raise their voices and demand it. Providing for a Constitutional Convention is an effective way we can help citizens take back their government from the special interests, lobbyists and political insiders,” Kolb said.
“Since the question of whether New York should call a Constitutional Convention was last rejected in 1997, I believe things in state government, and all across New York, have only gotten worse. Now, people of all political affiliations, in all regions of our state, are hungry for real change and a Constitutional Convention would have a legitimate chance of passage if placed on the ballot when all 212 state legislators and four statewide officials go before the voters next fall. A ‘People’s Constitutional Convention’ could be the spark we need to ignite a firestorm of real reform throughout state government,” Kolb concluded.