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.
BILL NUMBER: S6060
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 b allot. 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 : A4854/2005-2006 Held in Committee; A.3665/2007-2008 Held in 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.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6060 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE June 24, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sen. GRIFFO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules 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. LBD89118-01-9 S. 6060 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. 6060 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.