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Constitutional Convention (CON CON)


Constitutional Convention (CON CON)

Con Con
: summary of current action

On November 7, 2017, voters will go into voting booths throughout New York State and, as they are every 20 years, will be faced with the Constitutionally mandated question, ”Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?”



governmental reform: ETHICS & LOBBYING

Ethics and Lobbying: League Position

The League has long felt that the laws of New York State inadequately define, monitor or discipline unethical behavior in the public sector, both on the part of public officials and lobbyists, those who seek to influence the behavior of public officials.

Ethics and Lobbying: League Activity

In 2009 the Inspector General issued a scathing report of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI) investigation of Troopergate, in which he found the Commission had repeatedly failed to investigate clear allegations that the Public Officers Law had been violated. The report called for the resignation of Executive Director Herbert Teitelbaum, whose testimony about the matter it found unbelievable. During the course of the investigation, Chairman John Feerick resigned.

In 2009, the League supported a Senate bill, which adopted the League-supported approach of placing enforcement in the hands of a nonpartisan commission. This bill failed to win support of the Assembly, which supported a weaker bill.

In 2010, the League supported an ethics and campaign finance reform bill, S.6457/A.9544 that passed both houses. While the bill fell far short of the League ideal, it moved forward by requiring disclosure of independent third party expenditures. It also expanded the powers of the enforcement arm of the State Board of Elections, appointed the Executive Director for a fixed term, removable only for cause, and made the enforcement process more transparent to the public. However, in February 2010, Governor Patterson vetoed the bill, stating it failed to go far enough.

Following the election of Governor Cuomo in the fall of 2010 on a platform that included ethics reform, efforts to reform the ethics system continued. In June of 2011, a three-way agreement was reached between Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Silver on an ethics reform package, the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011. The Act established an independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to oversee violations of law by both the executive and legislative branches, oversee financial disclosure and lobbying rules. Disclosure requirements were significantly expanded and made fully available to the public for the first time. The League, along with our good government colleagues, supported this bill as a significant improvement over the status quo, particularly with respect to strengthening disclosure and unifying oversight of the executive and legislative branches, although we will continue to monitor how JCOPE works in practice.

In June 2012, the League testified before JCOPE on developing guidelines and regulations for new reporting requirements for lobbyists and clients of lobbyists

Ethics and Lobbying: Testimony
Ethics and Lobbying: Memos
Ethics and Lobbying: Letters, Press Releases, Op Ed Pieces, and Press Coverage
Ethics and Lobbying: NON-LEAGUE MATERIALS

Ethics and Lobbying: Archived Materials

Contact the League Office or call the state the League office at 518-465-4162.


redistricting: summary of current action

In 2010, in addition to testifying at LATFOR hearings statewide, the League participated in a broad campaign, ReShapeNY, calling for a better redistricting process for New York. Many Leagues held public forums highlighting the need for reform using the materials the state League provided in the fall of 2010. This followed years of the League advocating for a constitutional amendment setting forth permanent and fair guidelines and establishing an independent commission to draw lines free of partisan gerrymandering. We have long felt that the pen that draws legislative lines needs to be.

The first set of state legislative lines for the 2012 election was released by the Legislature in January 2012 and we criticized those lines as partisan and gerrymandered, as did our good government colleagues and many others, and we called for both improving the lines and implementing lasting structural reform to a fundamentally flawed process. It became obvious that the redistricting process in New York was broken. The courts again stepped in as they had in past decades of Congressional redistricting.

The League called for the Governor to use his veto threat, and the power it gives him to negotiate with the Legislature, to not only improve the 2012 lines but also to achieve certain and permanent structural reform to the redistricting process. Permanent structural reform can only be achieved through a constitutional amendment but momentum for this has typically diminished greatly in the years following each redistricting battle. The League felt that 2012 was a unique opportunity for reform in light of the unprecedented campaign that has been waged by many different groups, including those allied with us in ReShapeNY, to hold legislators to their pledge to enact redistricting reform and Governor Cuomo's insistence that the status quo could not stand. The League supported the successful first passage of a constitutional amendment in 2012 and an accompanying statute, creating structural reform that permanently takes the redistricting pen away from the legislature and provides the voter with the power to choose their elective representatives. While not perfect, we felt that the constitutional amendment would provide a significant improvement on the LATFOR status quo. Certainty was added to the process by coupling first passage of a constitutional amendment with an accompanying statute, ensuring reform even if the amendment does not achieve the second legislative passage necessary to go on the ballot.

redistricting: League Position redistricting: Archived Materials

Contact the League Office or call the state the League office at 518-465-4162.


transparency in Government

: summary of current action

As part of its citizen’s rights concerns, the League has long worked for the citizen’s right to know and for broad citizen participation in government.  While Initial activities focused on making materials available and meetings open to citizens, current activity has focused more on second generation issues, including:

  • Making legislative processes, including the budgeting process, more open and transparent;
  • Opening up enforcement proceedings for violation of a number of good government measures, including ethics and lobbying violations against legislators, other public officers,  and lobbyists, campaign finance enforcement proceedings, including proceedings brought for failure to disclose information, and proceedings for judicial misconduct; 
  • Making materials available electronically on-line in a searchable format and filming open meetings. 

transparency: League Position

transparency: Letters, Press Releases, Op Ed Pieces, and Press Coverage
transparency: Memos
transparency: Archived Materials

Contact the League Office or call the state the League office at 518-465-4162.