financial support of the legislature. Cuomo hoped, in vain, for an early
legislative call for a convention prior to the every-twenty-year requirement date of 1997. This commission has been charged with examining
the process of constitutional change as well as the substantive issues
to be considered at a possible convention in 1999. By early 1995 the Temporary Commission held hearings throughout the state, issuing a
briefing book, an interim report, and a periodic newsletter (Constitutional Matters). It is the most extensive attempt thus far in the state's
history to provide for and stimulate public debate on the question
of constitutional reform. Unlike previous commissions which focused
primarily on providing information for delegates at the convention, the Cuomo Commission directed its efforts as much at educating the public
as at providing background for delegates at any future conventions.
What impact this approach will have remains to be seen, but if voters
in 1997 reject the call for a convention, they will do so on a more
informed and rational basis than they did in 1977.
A second option is to appoint a constitutional commission similar
to the ones appointed in 1890 and 1920. Its creation would require
legislative action and approval of all recommendations, but a prestigious commission, reporting well thought-out proposals for which a
consensus has been achieved, would make it difficult for the legislature
to ignore its recommendations, and would improve measurably the
chances of success with the electorate.
For a statistical analysis of amendment activity between 1967 and 1993
see Gerald Benjamin and
Melissa Cusa, "Amending the New York State Constitution Through the Legislature," in
Gerald Benjamin, ed., The New York
State Constitution: A Briefing Book ( Albany: Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute
of Government, 1994).
Unpublished memorandum of Senator Rolison, S. 2509, as reprinted in Robert Allen Carter, The New York Constitution: Sources of Legislative Intent
( Littleton, Co.: Fred B. Rothman & Co., 1988), p. 10.
Unpublished memorandum of Senator Saul Weprin, S. 21002, as reprinted in Carter, New York Constitution, p. 10.
"Editorial," The New York Times, November 2, 1984, p. A26.
Public Papers of Nelson Rockefeller, 1971 ( Albany, n.d.), p. 1152.
Governor's Memorandum, "Grand Jury Indictment, Waiver," Legislative Annual, 1973, p. 6.
See his remarks in Duryea Bids Legislature Have Power to Call Special Session, The New York Times, March 17, 1974, p. 5; and the remarks of
Democratic Assemblyman Alan Hevesi, "Legislature Aims For Wider power," The New York Times, April 25, 1974, p. 45.
Memorandum in Support, 1986, No. 3619, microfiche, New York State
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Ordered Liberty:A Constitutional History of New York.
Contributors: Peter J. Galie - Author.
Publisher: Fordham University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1996.
Page number: 353.
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