senate Bill S2453

Provides for initiative and referendum and recall

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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  • 21 / Jan / 2011
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • 25 / Jan / 2011
    • TO ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR OPINION
  • 27 / Apr / 2011
    • OPINION REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • 09 / Jan / 2012
    • TO ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR OPINION
  • 08 / Feb / 2012
    • OPINION REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Summary

Provides for initiative and referendum and recall; empowers the electors with the ability to propose statutes and amendments to the constitution, to approve or reject statutes or parts of statutes; and to remove elective officers.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A6526
Versions:
S2453
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Judiciary
Law Section:
Constitution, Concurrent Resolutions to Amend
Laws Affected:
Ren Art 20 to be Art 21, add Art 20 ยงยง1-12, Constn
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Cycles:
2009-2010: S6060, A6815
2007-2008: A3665, A3665

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S2453

TITLE OF BILL:
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY
proposing the addition of a new article 20 to the constitution, in
relation to providing for initiative and referendum and recall

PURPOSE:
To foster greater participatory democracy in New York State by
allowing voters to: 1) place proposed laws on the ballot for New
Yorkers to adopt or reject ("initiative"); 2) place an already
existing law on the ballot for New Yorkers to reject or accept
("referendum "); and 3) place the question of whether to remove and
replace a public official on the ballot ("recall").

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 and its implementing portions establish the use of
initiative in New York State.
Initiative is defined as the power of electors to propose statutes and
constitutional amendments for approval or rejection by the voters. In
brief, the initiative measure is submitted by presenting a petition
to the Secretary of State containing both wording of the initiative
for a statute and signatures of electors that constitute at least 5%
of the total votes cast for all gubernatorial candidates at the last
election for governor. If the petition's initiative measure proposes
a constitutional amendment, then the petition must have at least 8%
of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Section 2
and its implementing components authorize referendum in New York.
Referendum is described as the power of electors to approve or reject
statutes (or parts of statutes).
This resolution prohibits referendum from being employed in cases of
urgency statutes (emergency legislation), statutes calling elections
and statutes authorizing tax levies or appropriations for the State's
current expenses. A referendum measure shall be proposed by
presenting to the Secretary of State, within ninety (90) days after
the statute to be affected by the proposed referendum has become
effective, a petition signed by at least 5% of the total votes cast
for gubernatorial candidates in the last election for governor. If an
initiative or referendum measure is approved by a majority of votes,
it takes effect the day after the election unless the measure states
otherwise. In the event provisions of two or more measures approved
at the same election conflict, those provisions of the measure
receiving the greater number of affirmative votes shall govern. This
resolution also permits cities or counties to exercise initiative and
referendum powers. Section 6 and its ancillary sections authorize the
use of recall in New York State for all statewide elected officers,
state senators, assembly members, supreme court judges and trial
court judges. Recall authorizes electors to remove an elective
officer. If electors seek to recall a statewide officer, then the
petition must be signed by at least 12% of the last vote for the
particular office. Recall of a state senator, assembly member, and
supreme and trial court judges shall require signatures equal to at
least 20% of the prior vote for the office.

JUSTIFICATION:


New York State is facing several policy challenges in a very difficult
fiscal climate. While few people would disagree with the common sense
proposition that it is best to confront such challenges by turning to
as many people as possible to either propose new legislation or amend
existing legislation, New York continues to lag behind more
progressive states by failing to enact initiative and referendum
("I and R"). I and R would engage all New Yorkers by allowing them to
propose new laws ("Initiative") or alter existing ones
("Referendum") and, if they obtain the requisite support from their
fellow New Yorkers, place I and R measures on the ballot at elections
for all New Yorkers to consider I and R, at its heart, is the means
to ensure real popular control of public affairs. Since it is the New
York populace that is affected by laws enacted in the legislature,
why shouldn't this same populace enjoy the right to approve or reject
laws that a majority of New York voters choose to approve or reject.
This resolution would help ensure the popular control of public
affairs by New York citizens through authorizing I and R. However,
there are safeguards in the resolution to ensure that an excessive
number of measures do not get on
the ballot. Any initiative or referendum measure must obtain at
least 5% of all votes cast for governor in the most recent
gubernatorial election. 5% of the votes cast in the 2002
gubernatorial contest equals 234,549 persons. As for recall, the
basis for this procedure is the well accepted maxim that voters
should retain the right of control over their elected officials. No
one would seriously dispute that a candidate for public office may be
elected for several reasons and some of the reasons may bear very
little relation to the candidate's ability to perform public duties
effectively. Recall recognizes this by acknowledging that if people
can be elected to public office for non-job related reasons, they can
also be removed from office for a variety of reasons. Another strong
argument for establishing I and R and recall in New York is as an
important check on the power of special interests in the State.
Twenty-four states presently allow citizen initiative measures of some
type. As for the argument that I and R and recall can be abused for
frivolous reasons or proposals, it must be kept in mind that the
voters can reject any measure they are unsure of and, in fact, one
could argue that the voters should be trusted to act in the public
interest. In sum, direct democracy measures such as I and R and
recall can empower New York citizens whenever their elected officials
ignore their concerns.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2010 - S.6060 Judiciary Committee/A.6815 Judiciary Committee.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
Possibly slightly increased administrative costs.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
Upon passage by two separately elected Legislatures and approval by
the voters after such passage.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  2453

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 21, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  GRIFFO,  GRISANTI,  LARKIN, MAZIARZ, RANZENHOFER,
  SEWARD -- read twice and ordered  printed,  and  when  printed  to  be
  committed to the Committee on Judiciary

            CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY

proposing  the  addition  of  a  new  article 20 to the constitution, in
  relation to providing for initiative and referendum and recall

  Section 1. Resolved (if the Assembly concur), That article 20  of  the
constitution  be  renumbered article 21 and a new article 20 be added to
read as follows:
                               ARTICLE XX
                  INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM AND RECALL
  SECTION 1. 1. THE INITIATIVE IS THE POWER OF THE ELECTORS  TO  PROPOSE
STATUTES AND AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AND TO ADOPT OR REJECT THEM.
  2.  AN  INITIATIVE MEASURE MAY BE PROPOSED BY PRESENTING TO THE SECRE-
TARY OF STATE A PETITION THAT SETS FORTH THE TEXT OF THE PROPOSED  STAT-
UTE  OR  AMENDMENT  TO  THE  CONSTITUTION  AND IS CERTIFIED TO HAVE BEEN
SIGNED BY ELECTORS EQUAL IN NUMBER TO FIVE PERCENT  IN  THE  CASE  OF  A
STATUTE,  AND EIGHT PERCENT IN THE CASE OF AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITU-
TION, OF THE VOTES FOR ALL CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR AT THE LAST  GUBERNA-
TORIAL ELECTION.
  3.  THE  SECRETARY  OF STATE SHALL THEN SUBMIT THE MEASURE AT THE NEXT
GENERAL ELECTION HELD AT LEAST ONE  HUNDRED  THIRTY-ONE  DAYS  AFTER  IT
QUALIFIES OR AT ANY SPECIAL STATEWIDE ELECTION HELD PRIOR TO THAT GENER-
AL  ELECTION. THE GOVERNOR MAY CALL A SPECIAL STATEWIDE ELECTION FOR THE
MEASURE.
  4. AN INITIATIVE MEASURE EMBRACING MORE THAN ONE SUBJECT  MAY  NOT  BE
SUBMITTED TO THE ELECTORS OR HAVE ANY EFFECT.
  5.  AN  INITIATIVE  MEASURE SHALL NOT INCLUDE OR EXCLUDE ANY POLITICAL
SUBDIVISION  OF  THE  STATE  FROM  THE  APPLICATION  OR  EFFECT  OF  ITS
PROVISIONS BASED UPON APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL OF THE INITIATIVE MEASURE,
OR BASED UPON THE CASTING OF A SPECIFIED PERCENTAGE OF VOTES IN FAVOR OF
THE MEASURE, BY THE ELECTORS OF THAT POLITICAL SUBDIVISION.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD89062-01-1

S. 2453                             2

  6.  AN  INITIATIVE MEASURE SHALL NOT CONTAIN ALTERNATIVE OR CUMULATIVE
PROVISIONS WHEREIN ONE OR MORE OF  THOSE  PROVISIONS  WOULD  BECOME  LAW
DEPENDING  UPON  THE  CASTING  OF A SPECIFIED PERCENTAGE OF VOTES FOR OR
AGAINST THE MEASURE.
  S  2.  1.  THE  REFERENDUM  IS THE POWER OF THE ELECTORS TO APPROVE OR
REJECT STATUTES OR PARTS OF STATUTES EXCEPT URGENCY  STATUTES,  STATUTES
CALLING  ELECTIONS,  AND  STATUTES PROVIDING FOR TAX LEVIES OR APPROPRI-
ATIONS FOR USUAL CURRENT EXPENSES OF THE STATE.
  2. A REFERENDUM MEASURE MAY BE PROPOSED BY PRESENTING TO THE SECRETARY
OF STATE, WITHIN NINETY DAYS AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE STATUTE,  A
PETITION  CERTIFIED  TO  HAVE BEEN SIGNED BY ELECTORS EQUAL IN NUMBER TO
FIVE PERCENT OF THE VOTES FOR ALL CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR  AT  THE  LAST
GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION, ASKING THAT THE STATUTE OR PART OF IT BE SUBMIT-
TED  TO  THE ELECTORS. IN THE CASE OF A STATUTE ENACTED BY A BILL PASSED
BY THE LEGISLATURE ON OR BEFORE THE DATE THE LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS IN THE
SECOND CALENDAR YEAR OF THE BIENNIUM OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, AND  IN
THE  POSSESSION OF THE GOVERNOR AFTER THAT DATE, THE PETITION MAY NOT BE
PRESENTED ON OR AFTER JANUARY FIRST NEXT FOLLOWING  THE  EFFECTIVE  DATE
UNLESS  A  COPY  OF  THE  PETITION  IS SUBMITTED TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION FOUR OF SECTION THREE  OF  THIS  ARTICLE  BEFORE
JANUARY FIRST.
  3.  THE  SECRETARY  OF STATE SHALL THEN SUBMIT THE MEASURE AT THE NEXT
GENERAL ELECTION HELD AT LEAST THIRTY-ONE DAYS AFTER IT QUALIFIES OR  AT
A  SPECIAL  STATEWIDE  ELECTION HELD PRIOR TO THAT GENERAL ELECTION. THE
GOVERNOR MAY CALL A SPECIAL STATEWIDE ELECTION FOR THE MEASURE.
  S 3. 1. AN INITIATIVE STATUTE OR REFERENDUM APPROVED BY A MAJORITY  OF
VOTES THEREON TAKES EFFECT THE DAY AFTER THE ELECTION UNLESS THE MEASURE
PROVIDES  OTHERWISE. IF A REFERENDUM PETITION IS FILED AGAINST A PART OF
A STATUTE THE REMAINDER SHALL NOT BE DELAYED FROM GOING INTO EFFECT.
  2. IF PROVISIONS OF TWO OR MORE MEASURES APPROVED AT THE SAME ELECTION
CONFLICT, THOSE OF THE MEASURE RECEIVING THE  HIGHEST  AFFIRMATIVE  VOTE
SHALL PREVAIL.
  3.  THE  LEGISLATURE  MAY  AMEND OR REPEAL REFERENDUM STATUTES. IT MAY
AMEND OR REPEAL AN INITIATIVE STATUTE BY ANOTHER  STATUTE  THAT  BECOMES
EFFECTIVE ONLY WHEN APPROVED BY THE ELECTORS UNLESS THE INITIATIVE STAT-
UTE PERMITS AMENDMENT OR REPEAL WITHOUT THEIR APPROVAL.
  4.  PRIOR  TO  CIRCULATION OF AN INITIATIVE OR REFERENDUM PETITION FOR
SIGNATURES, A COPY SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WHO  SHALL
PREPARE A TITLE AND SUMMARY OF THE MEASURE AS PROVIDED BY LAW.
  5.  THE  LEGISLATURE SHALL PROVIDE THE MANNER IN WHICH PETITIONS SHALL
BE CIRCULATED, PRESENTED, AND CERTIFIED, AND MEASURES SUBMITTED  TO  THE
ELECTORS.
  S 4. 1. INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM POWERS MAY BE EXERCISED BY THE ELEC-
TORS  OF EACH CITY OR COUNTY UNDER PROCEDURES THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL
PROVIDE. EXCEPT AS PROVIDED  IN  SUBDIVISIONS  TWO  AND  THREE  OF  THIS
SECTION, THIS SECTION DOES NOT AFFECT A CITY HAVING A CHARTER.
  2.  A  CITY  OR COUNTY INITIATIVE MEASURE SHALL NOT INCLUDE OR EXCLUDE
ANY PART OF THE CITY OR COUNTY FROM THE APPLICATION  OR  EFFECT  OF  ITS
PROVISIONS BASED UPON APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL OF THE INITIATIVE MEASURE,
OR BASED UPON THE CASTING OF A SPECIFIED PERCENTAGE OF VOTES IN FAVOR OF
THE MEASURE, BY THE ELECTORS OF THE CITY OR COUNTY OR ANY PART THEREOF.
  3.  A  CITY OR COUNTY INITIATIVE MEASURE SHALL NOT CONTAIN ALTERNATIVE
OR CUMULATIVE PROVISIONS WHEREIN ONE OR MORE OF THOSE  PROVISIONS  WOULD
BECOME LAW DEPENDING UPON THE CASTING OF A SPECIFIED PERCENTAGE OF VOTES
FOR OR AGAINST THE MEASURE.

S. 2453                             3

  S  5. NO AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION, AND NO STATUTE PROPOSED TO THE
ELECTORS BY THE LEGISLATURE OR BY INITIATIVE, THAT NAMES ANY  INDIVIDUAL
TO  HOLD  ANY  OFFICE, OR NAMES OR IDENTIFIES ANY PRIVATE CORPORATION TO
PERFORM ANY FUNCTION OR TO HAVE ANY POWER OR DUTY, MAY BE  SUBMITTED  TO
THE ELECTORS OR HAVE ANY EFFECT.
  S  6.  RECALL IS THE POWER OF THE ELECTORS TO REMOVE AN ELECTIVE OFFI-
CER.
  S 7. 1. RECALL OF A STATE OFFICER IS INITIATED BY  DELIVERING  TO  THE
SECRETARY OF STATE A PETITION ALLEGING REASON FOR RECALL. SUFFICIENCY OF
REASON IS NOT REVIEWABLE. PROPONENTS HAVE ONE HUNDRED SIXTY DAYS TO FILE
SIGNED PETITIONS.
  2. A PETITION TO RECALL A STATEWIDE OFFICER MUST BE SIGNED BY ELECTORS
EQUAL  IN NUMBER TO TWELVE PERCENT OF THE LAST VOTE FOR THE OFFICE, WITH
SIGNATURES FROM EACH OF FIVE COUNTIES EQUAL IN NUMBER TO ONE PERCENT  OF
THE  LAST  VOTE  FOR  THE  OFFICE  IN  THE  COUNTY. SIGNATURES TO RECALL
SENATORS, MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY, AND  JUDGES  OF  SUPREME  COURTS  AND
TRIAL  COURTS  MUST  EQUAL IN NUMBER TWENTY PERCENT OF THE LAST VOTE FOR
THE OFFICE.
  3. THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL MAINTAIN A  CONTINUOUS  COUNT  OF  THE
SIGNATURES CERTIFIED TO THAT OFFICE.
  S  8. 1. AN ELECTION TO DETERMINE WHETHER TO RECALL AN OFFICER AND, IF
APPROPRIATE, TO ELECT A SUCCESSOR SHALL BE CALLED BY  THE  GOVERNOR  AND
HELD NOT LESS THAN SIXTY DAYS NOR MORE THAN EIGHTY DAYS FROM THE DATE OF
CERTIFICATION OF SUFFICIENT SIGNATURES.
  2.  A  RECALL ELECTION MAY BE CONDUCTED WITHIN ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY DAYS
FROM THE DATE OF CERTIFICATION OF SUFFICIENT SIGNATURES  IN  ORDER  THAT
THE  ELECTION  MAY  BE  CONSOLIDATED  WITH  THE NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED
ELECTION OCCURRING WHOLLY OR PARTIALLY WITHIN THE SAME  JURISDICTION  IN
WHICH  THE  RECALL ELECTION IS HELD, IF THE NUMBER OF VOTERS ELIGIBLE TO
VOTE AT THAT NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED  ELECTION  EQUAL  AT  LEAST  FIFTY
PERCENT OF ALL THE VOTERS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE AT THE RECALL ELECTION.
  3.  IF  THE MAJORITY VOTE ON THE QUESTION IS TO RECALL, THE OFFICER IS
REMOVED AND, IF THERE IS A  CANDIDATE,  THE  CANDIDATE  WHO  RECEIVES  A
PLURALITY  IS  THE  SUCCESSOR.  THE  OFFICER MAY NOT BE A CANDIDATE, NOR
SHALL THERE BE ANY CANDIDACY FOR AN OFFICE FILED PURSUANT TO SECTION TWO
OF ARTICLE SIX.
  S 9. THE  LEGISLATURE  SHALL  PROVIDE  FOR  CIRCULATION,  FILING,  AND
CERTIFICATION  OF  PETITIONS,  NOMINATION  OF CANDIDATES, AND THE RECALL
ELECTION.
  S 10. IF RECALL OF THE GOVERNOR OR SECRETARY OF  STATE  IS  INITIATED,
THE  RECALL  DUTIES  OF THAT OFFICE SHALL BE PERFORMED BY THE LIEUTENANT
GOVERNOR OR COMPTROLLER, RESPECTIVELY.
  S 11. A STATE OFFICER WHO IS NOT RECALLED SHALL BE REIMBURSED  BY  THE
STATE  FOR THE OFFICER'S RECALL ELECTION EXPENSES LEGALLY AND PERSONALLY
INCURRED. ANOTHER RECALL MAY NOT BE INITIATED AGAINST THE OFFICER  UNTIL
SIX MONTHS AFTER THE ELECTION.
  S 12. THE LEGISLATURE SHALL PROVIDE FOR RECALL OF LOCAL OFFICERS. THIS
SECTION  DOES  NOT AFFECT COUNTIES AND CITIES WHOSE CHARTERS PROVIDE FOR
RECALL.
  S 2. Resolved (if the Assembly concur), That the  foregoing  amendment
be referred to the first regular legislative session convening after the
next  succeeding  general  election  of members of the assembly, and, in
conformity with  section  1  of  article  19  of  the  constitution,  be
published for 3 months previous to the time of such election.

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