ABC News reported on Sunday voters in New York will decide on a constitutional convention in 2017. The recent convictions of former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) and Senate Majority Leader (R) Dean Skelos are fueling calls for changing the state’s constitution.
The Constitution of New York State (NYSC) automatically refers a question to voters every 20 years to decide if the NYSC should be changed. The current constitution was drafted in 1894. There were two constitutional conventions held in the 20th century. The 1938 convention led to a large amount of revisions to NYSC. The last time a constitutional convention was held was in 1967.
New York is one of only 14 states that automatically refers a ballot question to its voters on whether to change the state constitution.
The Constitution of New York State is 50,000 words, which is seven times longer than the Constitution of the United States. The previous two referendums calling for a constitutional convention were shot down in 1977 and 1997 due to widespread opposition from all sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives have been concerned a constitutional convention could restrict gun rights. Labor unions have expressed concern their power could be reduced if a convention is approved by the voters of New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) supports a constitutional convention, but supporters are calling on him to form a planning commission to prepare for a convention.
The earliest a convention could take place is in 2019.