Constitutional convention refers to the meeting of nominated delegates who put forward review and corrections to a constitution. In the United States, about 233 constitutional conventions have been held in order to plan for state level constitution. Constitutional conventions are governed by different laws with regard to different states. In some states, a constitutional convention can be called by the legislature without seeking the endorsement of the voters. In other states, a constitutional convention comes automatically after ten years by use of a ballot measure; while in some states, the voters can be asked by the legislature whether they feel if there is need for a convention or not .Constitutional convention is not available in some states like Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi, Texas, Vermont, New Jersey and Indiana.
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In New York, the constitutional convention is held automatically after twenty years. With regard to Section two of Article XIX of the New York Constitution, it is stipulated that for every twenty years, beginning from 1957, a question will be raised if a constitutional convention will be placed on the general election ballot for the people to decide. Thus, in line with this, the next constitutional convention in New York will be held in the year 2017, which is exactly twenty years from when the previous convention was held. It is only the New York Constitution that provides for provisions on what to do in case a delegate to a constitutional convention passes on while the process is still going on. Its provision is under Section 2 of Article XIX. A Constitutional convention is just one of the two ways through which a constitution can be amended. The other method of amending the constitution is through a legislative referendum. A legislative referendum needs any vote of two consecutive legislatures for specific amendments.
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The New York State Constitutional Convention in 2017 is likely to abolish laws that are beneficial to human rights. One of the current laws that could be in danger of exclusion is the civil rights law that safeguards the rights of the citizens to express their feelings in demonstrations or mass actions. The exclusion of this law is likely to create a monarchy characterized by dictatorship. Another law that is viewed to be extinct as a result of amendment is the prevailing wage laws. These law aims at protecting the workers from exploitation by their employers; thus the workers could be left to be more vulnerable when this law is struck off .
The laws protecting education funding are likely to face the axe too. Education funding aims at supporting the school programs and when these laws are struck, there could be serious ramifications to the education sector. Another law that could be in jeopardy is the law that supports aid and care to the needy. The needy are perceived as to be the most vulnerable members of the society and if they are neglected, then there could be a huge social degradation. The laws that support the workers to join trade unions are also likely to be omitted during the constitutional convention. The workers should be allowed to join trade unions as this will help them speak in one voice and will also demonstrate a sign of urgency to meet their needs. The laws safeguarding the women’s reproductive health rights are also likely to face the axe. Abortion is only allowed if and only if the pregnancy poses great danger to the mother.
Another reason for my opposition to the New York State Constitutional Convention is that some unnecessary laws could be possibly added in to the constitution. The likely additions to the current laws include abolishing the prohibition of state aid to religious schools, laws relating to the state budget, government taxation spending as well as referendum plans. The process of selecting delegates to participate in the convention process is compromised since it supports the current legislators, particularly the senators who still wish to run for another term in the office. Besides that, there are high levels of lack of favoritism for the minorities in the society as they are unequally represented. Another negative element of the delegate selection process is that it is costly and costs the taxpayers quite a large amount of money to set up. For instance, there is no need for taxpayers to pay $50 million just for a convention yet the schools have low quality facilities and materials.
The New York State Constitutional Convention of 2017 will be an important stage in New York’s history since there will be an opportunity for laws to be changed. Over the years, the process has been highly supported and respected all over across New York, but in the recent past, critics have rubbished the process terming it as a waste of taxpayers’ funds. There are, however, significant areas that legitimately need adjustments, but in real sense, if a constitutional convention is held under the current situation, it will be inadequately prepared to reflect on and implement the organizational adjustments that are urgent enough.
I oppose the New York State Constitutional Convention of 2017 and instead propose for the establishment of an overall board to build up on explicit suggestions for restructuring the constitution so as to be considered by the legislator in the future. It is very costly to arrange a delegate committee since it is estimated to cost the tax payers around $35 to $65 million for every convention.
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