“New York’s Last, Best Hope for Real Reform”: The Case for Convening a State Constitutional Convention

By Brian M. Kolb, New York State Assembly Republican Leader

In the lead article of the inaugural issue of the Albany Government Law Review’s New York Legislation book, Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb convincingly advocates for a “People’s Constitutional Convention.”   Mr. Kolb, the Assembly Minority Leader, argues that, since the last convention in 1967, the fiscal, governmental and confidence crises are reasons not to wait until 2017, the next time the question of convening a convention will automatically appear on the ballot.

Mr. Kolb created an online petition to call for a convention: Reform New York.  To date, nearly 2,500 have signed, at least virtually, the petition to support a People’s Convention to Reform New York.

The term “reform” has reached remora-like status in Albany, attached to nearly anything, and in cases that may result in only marginal improvement.  As Mr. Kolb writes, the People’s convention is needed to address far-reaching, institutional change:

State government’s dysfunction, corruption, and fiscal irresponsibility are still the ultimate trump card that can mobilize public opinion and serve as an urgent call to action. As symptoms of these “cancers” on government continue to manifest themselves in the form of chronic unemployment, late state budgets, multi-billion dollar deficits and debt, some of the nation’s highest property, business, and income taxes, the “case” for convening a constitutional convention will be self-evident, extremely powerful, and, in my opinion, open and shut. The fact that state government still lacks a statewide succession plan for state offices, an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, term limits for legislative leaders and legislators, initiative and referendum, . . . will continue inspiring calls for reforming the broken institution of state government.

Click here to view the article by Assembly Republican Leader Kolb.

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Filed under Constitutional Law, Election Law, Government Reform, Legal History

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