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NYers to Vote Up or Down on Constitutional Convention; Legislative Leaders Opposed

Karen DeWitt

Voters get a chance to decide in the fall whether the state should have a constitutional convention . Both legislative leaders say, though, they are against it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader John Flanagan, appeared together at a forum sponsored by the Albany Times Union’s Hearst Media Center.

Speaker Heastie says he worries a constitutional convention would be steered by big money special interests, and New Yorkers could end up losing rights in a constitutional convention instead of gaining them.

“We should be very, very careful in exposing the constitution to the whims of someone from outside the state who could decide to spend millions of dollars to put forth a position,” Heastie said.

Senator Flanagan says there are better and less costly ways to change the state’s constitution. For instance, he says voters will get a this fall to decide whether to end pensions for politicians who are convicted of a felony.

“We have a mechanism, in my opinion, already in place,” said Flanagan. “And I’m comfortable with the way that works.”

Both  issues appear on the November ballot.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at