When voters go to the polls on November 7, they will get a chance to vote for or against holding a Constitutional Convention – or Con Con, as it's known by those in the business – in spring of 2019.
If they vote yes, three delegates from each of the state's 63 state senate districts and an additional 15 statewide will convene in Albany to rewrite the state's constitution. Elections would take place next year, and anyone can run to be a delegate.
Voters get a chance to vote on whether or not to hold a Con Con every 20 years. There hasn't been one in almost a half-century, and in 1997 voters rejected the idea.
There's both pros and cons to a Con Con. Most people who are opposed worry that the strong labor protections that New York enjoys would be weakened as lobbyists hired by moneyed corporations work to influence the delegates.
But any amendments made to the constitution would have to be ratified by the voters, and no changes can occur without that statewide approval. Given New York's strong Democratic leanings and union presence, both politically and socially, it is unlikely that any radical weakening of labor protections would pass.
The pros of holding a Con Con, however are enticing.
It's a chance for the people of the state to change everything they dislike about the current political situation in Albany. Measures that would never pass the legislature could be enacted through a Con Con.
For instance, an amendment could be added that would allow cities over 8 million people to enjoy home rule, which means that New York City could act on issues like property taxes, mass transit and who controls the school system without having to deal with political wrangling in the state capital.
Or a Con Con could close the LLC loophole, which allows corporations to pump money unchecked into campaigns to influence local elections. State Senator Daniel Squadron has been trying to accomplish that for years to no avail. Maybe that's whey he decided to resign this year.
Or how about term limits for state legislators? How about dissolving that state senate and assembly all together, and going to a system where there is just one legislative body, which would put a greater check on the executive branch and the power of the governor?
There are any number or radical changes that a Con Con could accomplish that would never see the light of day as a legislative initiative.
If you're terribly dissatisfied with the dysfunction that cripples Albany and contributes to the state consistently being ranked as having one of the most corrupt state legislatures in the nation, then you should vote yes on a Con Con this November.
Can we really afford to wait another 20 years?