Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York

By Peter J. Galie | Go to book overview

13
Constitutional Change Between Conventions: 1938-1967

THE 1938 CONVENTION revised and reorganized the constitution, providing for a more rational arrangement of the material. Placed under separate articles were provisions concerning conservation (XIV) and canals (XV). Executive budget amendments were transferred to Article VII (state finance). The twenty articles organized by the convention are currently in operation in the state.

In the thirty years between the 1938 and 1967 conventions, ninetythree amendments were approved. Their distribution among the twenty articles is provided in Table III-A. The most significant changes were effected in articles VI (judiciary), VII, VIII (state and local finance), and IX (local government). The local government article was revised in 1963, a major step toward a unified court system was adopted in 1961, and significant liberalizations in the tax and debt limits in Article VII and VIII were approved between 1949 and 1953. Finally, by the slim margin of 125,599 votes, the electorate in 1957 rejected a constitutionally mandated ballot question on holding a constitutional convention.


THE COMMISSION AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM: 1938-1967

In anticipation of the vote on whether or not a convention should be held as required by Article XIX, Governor Averell Harriman signed a bill in 1956 creating a fifteen-member Temporary State Commission on the Constitutional Convention. When a dispute developed between Republican leaders and Harriman over appointment of a chair, Harriman appointed Nelson Rockefeller, on the assumption that Rockefeller had no political ambitions!' 1 Five members were appointed by the temporary president of the senate, five by the speaker of the assembly, and five by the governor. 2 This commission was given three responsi-

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