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New York voters reject constitutional convention proposition

November 08, 2017 08:46 AM

Voters across New York voted on three propositions on Tuesday addressing issues like a state constitutional convention, pensions for officials convicted of corruption, and conservation rules in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

NEW YORK STATE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

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New Yorkers have rejected calls for a constitutional convention. Voters on Tuesday resoundingly defeated a ballot question which, if approved, would have scheduled a convention in 2019.

Unions, environmental groups, Planned Parenthood and officials from both parties had urged opposition. They warned that deep-pocketed special interests could use a convention to undermine existing constitutional rights and noted that the constitution can already be amended through voter referendum.

Supporters argued a convention would provide a chance to address chronic corruption and porous campaign finance rules while strengthening protections for education, health care and the environment.

The question of a constitutional convention is automatically put on the ballot every 20 years. The last convention was held in 1967.

If the question had passed, voters would have had to ratify any constitutional changes.

STRIPING PENSIONS FROM OFFICIALS CONVICTED OF CORRUPTION

Voters have approved a change to the state's constitution allowing judges to strip the pensions of any official convicted of corruption.

Tuesday's vote in favor of the amendment will close a loophole that had allowed some lawmakers to keep their public pensions despite convictions for abusing their office.

A 2011 law allowed judges to revoke or reduce pensions of crooked lawmakers, but it didn't apply to sitting lawmakers at the time. A constitutional amendment was needed to cover all lawmakers, no matter when they were elected.

More than 30 lawmakers have left office facing allegations of corruption or misconduct since 2000.

Some good-government groups had questioned whether the change will serve as much of a deterrent, since the threat of jail time has apparently done little to stem corruption.

CONSERVATION RULES IN THE ADIRONDACKS AND CATSKILLS

New York voters have approved a ballot question that tweaks conservation rules in the Adirondacks and the Catskills to make it easier for local governments to use land for public projects.

The constitutional amendment will set aside 250 acres for communities to use for projects that support health, public safety and community improvement, such as bike paths or water lines.

The constitution now prohibits local governments within the Adirondacks and Catskills from building on state land unless they get statewide voter approval. It's a cumbersome and time-consuming process that local officials say often holds up progress.

Credits

WNYT Staff / AP

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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