At New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, our offices have been fielding many questions regarding the three ballot proposals that will appear on the Tuesday, November 7 ballot. Here are some thoughts on each of the proposals. Our hope is that this information will help you to be an informed voter in this year’s General Election.Download 2017 The Voter Guide
Proposal Number One, A Question: Constitutional Convention
“Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?”
Summary: Article XIX, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of New York provides that beginning in 1957, a constitutional convention question will be presented to the voters every 20 years. If the voters approve this year’s convention question, a constitutional convention will be held in 2019 to propose potential amendments to the Constitution of the State of New York.
If the voters approve Proposal Number One, a constitutional convention will occur. The convention would be organized as follows: At the 2018 general election, voters from each of the state’s 63 Senate districts would elect three (3) convention delegates. At the same election, voters across the state would elect a total of 15 delegates-at-large. The convention would convene at the New York State Capitol beginning on the first Tuesday in April, 2019, and the delegates would continue to meet until their business was completed. No proposed constitutional amendment could be adopted by the convention unless a majority of the delegates voted for it. Any proposed amendment adopted by the convention would be submitted for the approval or disapproval of the voters at an election held no less than six weeks following the adjournment of the convention. Any proposed amendment adopted by the convention and approved by the voters would go into effect on January 1 of the following year.
Analysis: New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation (NYFRF) OPPOSES Proposal Number One.
Our opposition is based upon the political realities of the State of New York. Enrolled Democratic voters outnumber enrolled Republican voters statewide, 6.2 million to 2.8 million. Given those figures, liberal delegates to the potential constitutional convention could outnumber conservative delegates and could dominate the convention. A constitutional convention might adopt damaging amendments, such as amendments to expand abortion access during all stages of pregnancy, recognize “rights” to state-funded health care and physician-assisted suicide, force faith-based organizations to provide insurance coverage for abortions, provide taxpayer funding of campaigns, make service in the State Legislature a full-time job, recognize special “transgender” rights, confer state citizenship upon undocumented immigrants, and place new limits upon the rights of law-abiding New Yorkers to bear arms. While it is possible that a constitutional convention could result in other amendments that would improve the Constitution, NYFRF finds it more likely that a convention would result in damaging setbacks for causes that are important to Christians.
NYFRF urges New Yorkers to vote “NO” on Proposal Number One.
An abstract of Proposal Number One is available on the website of the New York State Board of Elections.
Proposal Number Two, An Amendment
Allowing the complete or partial forfeiture of a public officer’s pension if he or she is convicted of a certain type of felony
“The proposed amendment to section 7 of Article 5 of the State Constitution would allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
Summary: Proposal Number Two would amend the Constitution of the State of New York to allow judges to reduce or revoke the state pensions of certain public employees who are convicted of felonies that relate to the performance of their existing duties. The amendment would only apply to public officials convicted of crimes committed on or after January 1 of the year following the amendment’s ratification by the voters. However, the amendment would apply to public officials regardless of when they took office.
Analysis: NYFRF SUPPORTS Proposal Number Two.
A state law known as the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 (PIRA) allows judges to reduce or revoke the state pensions of certain public employees who are convicted of felonies relating to public corruption. However, the pension forfeiture provisions of PIRA only apply to elected public officials who (a) entered the public employee retirement system on or after November 13, 2011, and (b) were convicted of crimes committed on or after November 13, 2011. A constitutional amendment is needed to reduce or revoke the state pensions of convicted public officials who took office before November 13, 2011.
As stated above, the proposed amendment would apply to public officials convicted of felonies committed on or after January 1 of the year following the amendment’s ratification by the voters, regardless of when those public officials took office. Therefore, the proposed amendment would strengthen New York’s protections against public corruption. Because the payment of public pensions to corrupt public officials is an abuse of New York taxpayers, and because no corrupt public official should be rewarded with a state pension, NYFRF urges New Yorkers to vote “YES” on Proposal Number Two.
An abstract of Proposal Number Two and the text of the proposed amendment are available on the website of the New York State Board of Elections.
Proposal Number Three, An Amendment
Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes
“The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
Summary and Analysis: Proposal Number Three would create a land account totaling no more than 250 acres of forest preserve land. Municipalities would be allowed to apply to the State of New York for permission to use forest preserve land for projects pertaining to highway safety, highway maintenance, and water wells. To offset the 250 acres to be used for the land bank, Proposal Number Three would allow the state to acquire 250 acres of land to be added to the forest preserve. Finally, Proposal Number Three would allow utility lines and bicycle paths to be located on highways that run through the forest preserve.
NYFRF takes no position on Proposal Number Three.
An abstract of Proposal Number Three and the text of the proposed amendment are available on the website of the New York State Board of Elections.
Election Day will be held on Tuesday, November 7. Please make sure to get out and vote! To find your polling place, please contact your county’s Board of Elections.Download 2017 The Voter Guide