Assembly speaker opposed to authorization of Constitutional Convention

Assembly speaker opposed to authorization of Constitutional Convention

Overview

By Zack Fink

When asked about how he would like to see New Yorkers vote next week on three separate ballot questions, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “No, yes, yes.”

Question one asks New Yorkers to authorize a Constitutional Convention. Heastie says he believes opening up the entire Constitution would be a big mistake. And there are better ways to reform government.

“If people are unhappy with what the legislature has done, they can always take the opportunity and vote us out. And so we are accountable to people whether we do constitutional amendments or not,” Heastie said. “And I’d like to remind people that in the last 20 years, we’ve put more than 20 Constitutional amendments on the ballot.”

Ballot question number two would strip public pensions from elected officials convicted of a felony. The pension forfeiture amendment came in response to the high-profile corruption cases against both legislative leaders in 2015.

“I think it is the right thing to do,” Heastie said. “It’s something that the people want. I think people feel that if someone has used their government job in a corrupt way for financial gain, people shouldn’t be able to get a pension from the people.”

The final ballot question, number three, would authorize land swaps in the Adirondacks and Catskill regions and do not affect the city. Upstate municipalities are looking to have more freedom to make improvements in towns that abut protected lands. In exchange for infringing on those lands, the state will extend protections to other parcels in the same region.

“This would allow to do something like road improvements, allow them to lay wire and things like that for other infrastructure purposes without really disturnbing the essence of what people want to have,” Heastie said.

Actually getting some of these questions on the ballow can be difficult. A bill must pass two separate incarnations of the legislature, meaning there needs to be an election in between. So if any of the three ballot questions are voted down next week, it will be a while before they can go before voters again.