We will vote on November 7 to help decide who will be on our County Legislatures and Town Boards. We will elect Town Clerks, Town Justices, and Highway Supervisors and other public officers.
After you vote on the front of the ballot, turn it over; there are three Proposals that you are asked to approve or disapprove. One proposal is a question, two or amendments to the New York State Constitution.
Often voters report that have not heard much about the questions on the Proposals on the ballot. We may have heard about the question of if we should have a constitution convention but don’t know much about the Pros and Cons of it.
The Proposals are listed below in italics as they will appear of the ballot. The “Details” were summarized from the NYS Board of Elections website. You may want to go there to for more unbiased information.
Please remember that in order to be placed on a ballot for us to consider, an amendment to the NYS Constitution needs to be approved by both chambers of our legislature in two consecutive legislative terms.
Fun Fact: Twenty years ago 929,415 voted to hold the Constitutional Convention. 1,579,390 voted not to hold the convention. The convention was not held. What is seldom reported is that 1,693,788 New Yorkers who went to the polls in November, 1997, did not vote either way on the proposal. The fact that more people decided not to vote on the question than for it or against it can not be blamed on they forgot to turn the ballot over. In 1997 we used the old lever machines. The proposals were at the bottom of the ballot. You can see how your county voted in 1997 here.
PROPOSAL NUMBER ONE, A QUESTION
Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?
Trying to find articles that either support or are against a Constitutional Convention without pointing to Special Interests is difficult. For example, some conservation groups are for the convention and some are against it. That can be said for almost any issue. I did find the following:
An unbiased summary of reasons to vote either way.
PROPOSAL NUMBER TWO, AN AMENDMENT
Allowing the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer’s pension if he or she is convicted of a certain type of felony
The proposed amendment to section 7 of Article 2 of the State Constitution would allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Details: The purpose of the proposed amendment is to allow a court to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s duties. A court would determine, after notice to the public officer and a hearing, if a public officer convicted of such a felony would lose part or all of his or her pension. In reaching this determination, the court must consider the seriousness of the public officer’s crime, the proportionality of a reduction or revocation to the crime, whether forfeiture would result in undue hardship or other inequity to dependent children, spouse, or other dependents, and any other factors required by the Legislature.
PROPOSAL NUMBER THREE, AN AMENDMENT
Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes
The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Details: New York State’s Constitution protects the State’s forest preserve as wild forest land and generally prohibits the lease, sale, exchange, or taking of any forest preserve land. The proposed amendment will create two exceptions to this broad protection of the forest preserve to make it easier for municipalities to undertake certain health and safety projects.
First, if passed, the proposed amendment will create a land account of up to 250 acres of forest preserve land. A town, village, or county can apply to the land account if it has no viable alternative to using forest preserve land for certain limited health and safety purposes. Those purposes are (1) to address bridge hazards or safety on county highways and certain town highways; (2) to eliminate the hazards of dangerous curves and grades on county highways and certain town highways; (3) to relocate, reconstruct, and maintain county highways and certain town highways; and (4) for water wells and necessary related accessories located within 530 feet of a state highway, county highway, or certain town highway, where needed to meet drinking water quality standards. The State will acquire 250 acres, subject to approval by the Legislature, to incorporate into the forest preserve to replace the land placed in the health and safety land account.
Second, if passed, the proposed amendment will allow bicycle paths and specified types of public utility lines to be located within the widths of state, county, and certain town highways that traverse forest preserve land. The work on the bicycle paths and utility lines must minimize the removal of trees and vegetation. And, if passed, the proposed amendment will allow a stabilization device (such as a guy wire) for an existing utility pole to be located near the width of a highway when necessary to ensure public health and safety and when no other viable option exists. The proposed amendment expressly will not permit the construction of a new intrastate gas or oil pipeline that did not receive necessary state and local permits and approvals by June 1, 2016.
Feel free to comment about your position on each/any proposal.