930in716 October 10, 2017 NYS Constitutional Convention

Tuesday, October 10th

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Her kids 930. In 716. A constitutional convention in New York State. On the podcast. We haven't had one to 1967. The last time. Voters rejected. The recommendations so it's been a long time and actually had one that resulted in change you know the state constitution is an important document very few people have ever read it. Different perspectives as we begin. I'm too reminders supporters and opponents of a possible constitutional convention in New York are weighing in before it next month's election. Voters will decide in November whether they want to call a convention where delegates would propose changes or wholesale rewrites. To the State's constitution. If the convention is held. Voters would get the final say over any recommended changes. Supporters arguing a convention would give New Yorkers a golden opportunity to tweak their government to address corruption campaign finance. Government efficiencies. But opponents worry the special interest could manipulate the convention to rewrite the states government document to serve their own. Well their own meets. Well constitutional convention by. By constitution by law every twenty years voters get a chance to say yes or no. That they wanna hold a constitutional convention. Which would the gathered it would convene people would select delegates and then that they would decide whether to propose changes to the state constitution and. Ken Lovett covers Albany for the New York Daily News. Those changes would then go before voters. Word to say yea or nay on on what's been proposed we haven't had one to 1967. The last time. Voters rejected. The recommendations so it's been a long time and actually had one that resulted in change. And is the reason we're seeing lawn signs and an organized campaign because there are a lot of organized groups against this thing. Yeah pretty much. Yeah they're very few issues involved in Albany that can get the right and the left on the same page all the entrenched interest so most of the entrenched interests. Whether unions. Whether it's pro rights group pro abortion rights groups anti abortion rights groups the liberal working families party this stay Conservative Party. There all oppose the various reasons. They all fear that the other side could hijack the convention in which would lead to changes they oppose. Others who support it which are rarely cube got one legislative leader of the assembly minority leader Brian called. Is for it otherwise every legislative leaders began it. In the state. The unions are against it those who supported say all the me so messed up we build talked about it over and over. This is the best chance to exit. You know so many people against this because of the fear of the unknown now while I think a lot of other people would say. Oh what's the fear for a wouldn't this just be deadlocked the same way everything else seems to be. Well I could didn't. What you don't governor Governor Cuomo has said. He supported in concept does bother with a huge supporter of it especially Lleyton right but Governor Cuomo Andrew Cuomo. Says that while they support couldn't conflict he fears that the very entrenched interest. And lawmakers that runs big government now. Would be the one to a running the constitutional convention so he doesn't see necessarily need to do it under those kind of rules. Doesn't that kind of undercut the union argument that we would lose all these rights if if entrenched groups are in control of the convention. And certain things like pensions are entrenched right now. Wouldn't it stand to follow that the pandora's box ago could open up and not make all the evil horrible changes that the people are afraid of. Look people are certainly using scare tactics. But they fear that a lot of money can come from one side or the other whether the conservative side. I kind of deal with the issues like abortion rights in union pension and things like that union right. Or the other side of the conservatives who fear that the liberal interest groups. Will also try to push through abortion blood changes lately yes I'm sitting here abortion laws and maybe more pro union things each side is afraid that could jeopardize their interest in less than both on the same page in opposing it. Another voice. And a familiar one. Well I think it's up to the voters. Every twenty years we get a chance to decide whether we'd like gay constitutional convention. Doctor Kevin Hart Lake Erie county legislator kinesis college political science professor and WBN contributor. You know the state constitution is an important document very few people have have read it. And probably for good reason it's much longer. Then the US constitution like mostly. Are. But it's our basic rules of the game and it's different from other state constitutions there are things in our constitution. Protections or certain people. Certain certain groups that are not in other state constitutions. Another state constitutions have things that are not in not in ours. And there are only a couple of ways to propose amendments that the state institutions. One is or two successive state legislatures. But to propose them by successive we mean there's an election in between so for instance if the state legislature today. I voted for an amendment of the constitution. It would have to wait two years until after next year's elections. For a new state legislature to Kenyan and they would have to get at what's called second passage then it would go to the voters for ratification. The other way is for a constitutional convention to be called now normally the constitutional conventions. Called by the governor in the state legislature. But every twenty years there's a provision in their current constitution. That a question be put to the voters on the November general election ballot. Note sure we have a constitutional convention and that is this year so this is the last time was 1997. The preposition field 2017. It's up it's in four weeks it will be on the ballot. And the next script editor of the 2037. And you mentioned though if if to legislatures in a row vote to change and individuals small piece of the constitution and then voters agree. And that the constitution can be changed that way without a constitutional convention some of the people against the convention. Argue that that's a lot more effective way won't cost as much you won't have to pay delegates salaries. Talk about that part of the debate. Certainly is I mean it would be a costume that constitutional convention. Yes voters vote yes. And in November. Then beat convention would convene well actually no next year we would elect delegates. There would be three from each New York State Senate district that thinkers 63. Senate districts now that via an 89 in and I think there'd be fifteen. At large delegates away from are around the state. That would be. Almost 200 delegates that each one of them would be paid in annual salary equivalent to that. Of a new York state assembly and so you know you're talking. You're talking a bit of money. 795. Per delegate right what 179500. Per delegate I believe. Assuming assuming there are no little looser can. I assume that would that be but who knows. Maybe they're there would be yet but so are you talking a little bit of money there. To hold a convention. Deadliest once they hold a convention of course there's no guarantee that that they would that anything would get get pastor even propose. I think the last constitutional convention was 1967. They put their product to the voters in a number of propositions. And our maybe it was one proposition eight they proposal older constitutional convention are a whole new constitution and the voters rejected it. Kevin you know most of the signage we've seen all across the Erie county so far spend vote no vote no I'm sure you've seen the lawn signs they're driving around neighborhoods. Who should be. Thinking vote yes. When it comes the constitutional convention. Well well let's let's talk about the site what life like people are are opposed to the constitution. I mean there are. There are a lot of people on both sides of an of an issue the Buffalo News at a nice article they put out yesterday. That talked about bold pro life and pro choice groups. Are opposed to this and part of the reason is that the fear of the unknown if you have a constitutional convention. You know what will come out of it any good he could help or it could hurt us and I think that groups like it say on both sides of the abortion controversy. Are opposed to it. Because they're afraid that that they might have done it question of course whatever. Comes out of the convention. Would have to be ratified by the voters gases that would in in normal you know to success that state legislatures. Produce an amendment it needs to be ratified by the voters. So they're you know they're there is fear of the unknown and the other side. There are people saying hey this is our only chance you know now we did accidentally for the people to take matters into their own hands. We don't have to rely on the politicians and their two successive. Legislatures. You know we didn't we can affect me you know change through the convention. So they're point being made on both sides of the issue. A lot of groups in the state especially labor unions even gun groups and Planned Parenthood are saying it would strip away some basic rights. But also at kinesis college professor Peter galli has been writing and talking about it across the state pushing back against it. Saying it could bring needed reforms to state government. The only news out information that is to put it. As gently as possible misleading and more bluntly simply flat out incorrect. Nobody who had a pension. Interstate system now or retired. And have their pension removed by constitutional convention for the following reason. The federal constitution's. Guarantee of contracts caused would prevent that from happening. Talked to me about the pandora's box argument. Okay that they endorsed by going to be based on some kind of evidence what is that evidence in the past we had ninth Austin's a dimension they. It is striking to note. That almost every right for the things we cherish about our constitution. The problem but there have been added not by the magistrates. But by the convention. All right I know a lot of you work in this particular area has been done in conjunction with local attorney Christopher boxed he's with us now is well Christopher thanks for joining us. What is your biggest argument in favor of the constitutional convention. Well I think there is that the state is not functioning the way it should we have legislators being called up and cops. We have a system that encourages the pay to play culture where it three men in the room at the way expense for generations. And the legislature is either unwilling or incapable. I'm fixing its problems fixing the institutional problems. With the state and and issues like that having government that is not Iraq. Those are really bipartisan issue and that's what I think is is really important focus on we want a government that actually. Functions. Properly we will have a government that not run by people who are. It enmeshed in this culture of corruption. Where you have more people being. Taken out of office under threat of a criminal prosecution. Or actual prosecution. And being voted out of office itself goes the way that the district lines are drawn. Is done in a way that. It's nearly impossible for somebody actually lose an election. There are a lot of organized groups against it chief among them the New York State AFL CIO. Their president is Mario so Vento. On the labor movement perspective David can say this we have some of the strongest labor protection. In our constitution of any state in the country public employee pensions can't be diminished. For building trades workers prevailing rate on public works project is written into the constitution. For all workers and workers' compensation. Unemployment insurance the eight hour day post all rights written into the constitution. Apart from what I can do though you have other problems with the two ranked. Convention is open ended so there's really no timetable for how long they can actually meet you have 200 support delegates. Three elected by yet these 63. State senate seat and that fifteen at large delegate state won't make. The salary over other elected officials around the state legislature which 79500. Dollar. And you have to pay all of the staff that they bring along with them. At Hillary. But let's put that in the context of and overall state budget that in 2018 is spending. 98 point one billion dollars KK can we make the argument that spending that 300 million. Is worth that if there are good things to come out of this convention. Absolutely not the reason for that is that we're looking at a budget process possibly next unit can have a a deficit of upwards of four billion. Dollars. There are groups out there that have joined with you and and they always say politics makes strange bedfellows. I was Frankie reached Tom King this week with the New York State rifle and pistol association and his group has also come out against this constitutional convention. There were they were groups that rifle association Planned Parenthood the Conservative Party the labor movement. All these different groups who want 364. Days that your David you've outlined. Probably don't agree on much. But on this particular issue they all agree. That there are too many important protections that we have in our constitution. That would be up for grabs at a time when we don't know the course and we don't know exactly how long can pick and again we don't even know who's going to be in charge of the convention. We find out. In November. That's 9:30 PM 716. We're back tomorrow with a net a radiation from the studios of WD EA and buffalo well.