A Constitutional Convention In New York


Many are not aware that New York State has its own Constitution. Our last Constitutional Convention was held in 1967. This November, voters will have the chance to vote for a Constitutional Convention in 2018. Prior votes for a convention were rejected in 1977 and 1997. Every 20 years, voters are given the opportunity to vote for a convention which has the capacity to structurally change the form of government.

State government is inefficient, if not dysfunctional, but how will a convention help? A Constitutional Convention can address a number of important issues such as:
• Should we do away with a bicameral legislature or have one House of Delegates with 100 members? This may eliminate some of Albany’s gridlock which has a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democratically-controlled Assembly.
• Should the Governor be given authority to consolidate state agencies and reorganize them? Should New York’s school districts and special districts be consolidated?
• Should our court system be consolidated and should our judges be chosen on the basis of merit instead of being elected?
• What should be done to reduce the number of inmates in our jails or on post release supervision? What can we do to revise sentencing; provide alternatives to jail; and mass incarnation; provide for expungement of records and greater clemency; and, what can be done to provide more remedies for wrongful convictions and provide for resentencing based upon good behavior and the payment of restitution?

These are a few of the issues that can be addressed. There are others but change will not happen piece meal or by amendment. A Constitutional Convention is desperately needed.

Thomas F. Liotti is the village justice for the Village of Westbury.

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