On June 7, the New York State Senate passed S709, which proposes a change to the New York State Constitution. It would create the initiative process in New York, for statewide laws, and also for local government. The vote was 47-15. All of the “no” votes were Democrats.
Now the bill goes to the Assembly. If it passes there, because it is a proposed constitutional change, it must pass both houses of the legislature again in 2013. Then the voters would decide in November 2014 whether to pass the idea.
The statewide initiative is a gateway for virtually any election law reform that has popular support. If New York state had the initiative process, the voters could probably qualify a proposed initiative for redistricting reform, or ballot access reform, or reform of the restrictive laws that don’t permit voters to switch parties before a primary unless they make the switch during the year before the election. It will be interesting to see if Independent Voting, formerly known as the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, and before that the New Alliance Party, will support S709. That group is very well organized in New York city. Virtually all the “no” votes in the Senate were New York city Senators.
The bill would require a statewide initiative to obtain a number of signatures equal to 5% of the last vote for Governor. Currently that number is 232,709. Thanks to Paul Jacob for this news.