Vision: Potential Amendments

Imagine if New York...

Consider how much has changed in the past 20 years, since the last vote for the Constitutional Convention. What do you think will change in the next 20, when we will next vote on a Constitutional Convention? Are you satisfied with the status quo? What is your vision for our children’s New York?

New York’s economy is large enough to support comprehensive, independent and progressive reform. If states were countries, New York’s economy would make us the 11th largest country in the world, ahead of South Korea and just behind Canada. We produce this wealth with just one-third of Korea’s workers. If New York were a country, what should our Constitution say? 

Here are some of our ideas.

We have incorporated thoughtful and well-researched recommendations from SUNY Rockefeller Institute of Government, New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, Committee for a Constitutional Convention, Citizens Union, New Kings Democrats, New York Says Yes Coalition, Forward March NY, The League of Women Voters of New York State

We will update these and will add others, based on your comments. 

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Imagine if New York could have...

Criminal Justice Reform

New Yorkers deserve a judicial system where justice is applied equally to everyone, independent from party politics, with real transparency and greater participation by the people. The poor have the right to legal representation in criminal and civil proceedings.

  • "Although New York has finally 'raised the age, there are still a myriad of criminal justice problems in New York - New York Says Yes Coalition
  • Police accountability and transparency - Forward March NY
  • "Decriminalize, or even totally legalize, marijuana possession in personal use amounts" - Forward March NY
  • "Restore the right to vote to people involved in the criminal justice system" - New Kings Democrats

Court Reform

Full text of The Five Changes to be Sought in the Judiciary Article, by the Committee for a Constitutional Convention

Other ideas:

Honest, Ethical and Accountable Government

Text of Proposal for a Constitutional Commission on the Conduct of Non-Judicial State Officers and Employees, by Committee for a Constitutional Convention.

Other ideas: 

  • "Stronger ethics regulations, with vigorous oversight and established ethical requirements for public officials" - Citizens Union
  • "As the Legislature and governor work together to pass laws and budgets, their actions should be transparent, with a more equitable balance of power" - Citizens Union 
  • "Enact meaningful campaign finance reform to get big money out of our state and local politics" - New Kings Democrats
  • "Close the LLC loophole that allows corporations to evade campaign contribution limits" - New Kings Democrats
  • "Keep corrupt lawmakers convicted of defrauding the public from receiving taxpayer-funded pensions" - New Kings Democrats, Forward March NY
  • "Adopt strict disclosure requirements for public officials, campaigns, and lobbyists" - New Kings Democrats; "outlaw campaign contributions from any corporation that does business within the state" - Forward March NY
  • Eliminate gerrymandering - Forward March NY

Equal Rights for All

All New Yorkers deserve equal treatment, free from discrimination, to ensure the most inclusive society with equal opportunity and respect.

Equal Rights Fact Sheet, by the Committee for a Constitutional Convention

Full text of a Proposed New York Equal Rights Amendment, by Committee for a Constitutional Convention. Other ideas:

  • "Create protections against sex- or gender-based discrimination" - Forward March NY
  • "Protect access to abortion"  - Forward March NY
  • "Make the Civil Rights provision in our Bill of Rights enforceable and expand its scope, now limited to race and religion, to address other forms of discrimination that prevent equal opportunity for all New Yorkers." - New York Says Yes Coalition

Worker bill of rights

Worker rights must acknowledge our changing economy while protecting employer commitments to workers. State employee pensions should be guaranteed. All working people deserve the right to collective bargaining, the right to a living wage, the right to equal pay for equal work, the right to full-time employment with predictable schedules, and the right to retire in dignity.

Read and comment on Fact Sheet: Pension Protection Under Federal and New York State Constitutions from Committee for a Constitutional Convention. 

Some opponents of a Constitutional Convention raise the fear that pension protections for public employees provided under the New York State Constitution could be jeopardized. That is simply not true.

A Constitutional Convention cannot change the pensions of current employees of State and local retirement systems. They are protected by both the U.S. and State Constitutions.
— Committee for a Constitutional Convention

We also encourage you to see Andrew Strom's Workers Need A Bill of Rights and David Rolf's Toward a 21st Century Labor Movement

Clean and healthy environment

The environment is a potent symbol of New York's legislative paralysis, and a major reason to vote "Yes" for a Constitutional Convention. In 2016, the New York State Assembly passed America's most ambitious climate bill, putting New York on a path to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from major sources by 2050. No similar bill emerged from the New York Senate, effectively halting any action. The Assembly Bill 10342 proposes the following:

  • establish the "New York State Climate Action Council", consisting of state agencies, environmental experts, environmental justice advocates, labor, and industry
  • mandate that DEC establish greenhouse gas reporting requirements and emissions limits
  • create funding for renewable energy projects; profits from these would be reinvested in green jobs with a focus on marginalized communities
  • require 50% of PASNY and LIPA energy to come from renewables by 2030
  • legally enforceable mandates for massive reductions in carbon emissions

All New Yorkers deserve the right to clean air and water and protection from the impacts of climate change. New York should preserve and expand public lands considered “forever wild.”

Full text of Proposal to Add an Environmental Provision to the New York Bill of Rights, by the Committee for a Constitutional Convention

Other ideas:

Social Safety Net

Preserve and extend the New York State Constitution’s Existing Social Safety Net Protections. 

Full text of Proposal to Extend the Right of Counsel to Certain Civil Proceedings Involving a Low Income Person's Imminent Loss of Shelter, Sustenance, Personal Safety or Health or Child Custody or Visitation, by the Committee for a Constitutional Convention

Empowered Local Government

Local Governments deserve more control over their affairs (also known as "Home Rule").

Home Rule Fact Sheet, by the Committee for the Constitutional Convention

Full text of Proposal to Strengthen the Home Rule Provisions, by the Committee for the Constitutional Convention

Other ideas:

Modern Education

New Yorkers deserve an equal opportunity educational system that equips our graduates to be effective contributors to our civic society and have equal access to opportunities in a fast-changing economy.

Text of Proposed Changes to the Education Article, by the Committee for the Constitutional Convention

Text of Briefing Notes, Construction of the Education Article, by the New York Court of Appeals.

Other ideas:

  • Raise the floor on “sound basic education” to spell out requirements that weren’t necessary in 1894 - Forward March NY 
  • "All students must be given equal access to public education" - Forward March NY
  • "Secure in every community the right to a sound basic public school education through high school" - New York Says Yes Coalition
  • "Mandate readily affordable and debt-free tuition at public institutions of higher education" - New York Says Yes Coalition

Truly democratic election system

Today, New York ranks at the bottom of the country in terms of voter participation. New Yorkers deserve the most convenient and user-friendly way to register and vote. Level the playing field for candidates and eliminate gerrymandering.

Full text of Changes to the Constitution Relating to Elections, by the Committee for a Constitutional Convention.

Other ideas: