Proposals on the November 7 Ballot

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

Constitutional Convention

Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?

YES      NO

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?

YES      NO

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?

YES      NO

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.

 

 

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About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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7 Responses to Proposals on the November 7 Ballot

  1. Joseph Urban says:

    Thanks for the very informative posting. Since I will be out of the country on election day I have already voted on these issues.
    I voted against prop 1. My reasons are these. The NY Constitution is an extremely long and complex document which has been amended a number of times. We already have a process for amending the Constitution, as is evidenced by prop 2 and prop 3, both proposed amendments. If you look at Article XIX, Section 2 you can see what a Constitutional Convention would do. It would be expensive (every delegate would be paid the same as a member of the Assembly or Senate). It would make its own rules. It could do anything it wanted to do. In my opinion, it would be filled with people who have special interest, the main special interest would be staying is session. Since there is no given length of time, a Convention could last for years. After which anything it did would have to be voted on by the people anyway. The amendment system we have now works, without the added expense and the obvious factional hostility that would emerge from a Convention.
    I voted for prop 2 because I don’t think public officials who have committed job -related felonies should benefit financially. The key is “job-related” felonies, using the public position to benefit themselves. These would be crimes like bribery,etc.
    I voted for prop 3 because it allows flexibility to local needs without losing a net amount of land. 250 acres is not much. Sounds like a practical solution to local issues.

  2. Rynstone says:

    Also the delegate to the convention are elected by the voters and could be sitting state assembly or senate members, members of their staff and local county party members and local elected officials.
    This constitutional convention could cost anywhere from 50 million to more than 200 million and still not be approved by the voters.
    However, the process of getting ballot initiatives is very difficult and worth looking into. Do I think we will ever get a ballot initiative for term limits for the state legislator thru the normal method …… highly unlikely.

    I agree with Joseph Urban, the voters of NY can, and have in the past, make amendments to the NY State Constitution.

  3. whungerford says:

    The main advantage of a convention is that it could do something to discourage corruption–not likely to be achieved otherwise.

  4. pystew says:

    What I like about a convention is that the voters 1) choose to have one or not 2) choose the delegates and 3) choose to approve the proposed amendments or not. What I don’t like about it is 1) they will probably not research the pros and cons of the proposals as deeply as compared to amending the constitution in the regular method 2) the costs of the convention considering their is the costs nothing regular method of amending it 3) will we have professional politicians as delegates (who else could run?) and 4) the Citizens United ruling influencing the issues and delegates.

  5. whungerford says:

    Jim Twombly, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at Elmira College, reportedly (I wasn’t there) told the Steuben County League of Women voters that he thought he would be an excellent convention delegate. He also said he thought he had no chance of being elected.

  6. pystew says:

    Think on how hard it would be to become a delegate. Who knows how many weeks/months the convention would in session? Even if you can leave your job when you need to be in Albany, you might be running against your State Senator and Assemblyman with great name recognition. Guess who is also going to on the 2018 ballot running for re-election? Yup–O’Mara and Friend. Guess who is going to have lobbyists behind them. Yup, O’mara and Friend. (I have no idea if they will actually be running–O’Mara is having a series of meeting–will be in Yates County next week. I doubt if they will give a straight answer if he would run as a delegate). If it is not O/Mara and Friend, it might be a City Mayor, a Judge, County Executive, or other locally know Politician. There will be 3 delegates from each Senate District plus 15 state wide at large candidates.

  7. whungerford says:

    And yet, what fun it would be to be a delegate, to consider how to make NYS government better. If the convention is approved, Rich, I hope you will run.

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