Monday, October 28, 2013

Election Prep

Election Day is a week from tomorrow. By now, everyone should be familiar with the candidates whose names will appear on the front of the ballot, but those six proposals that will appear on the back of the ballot require some study before you get to the polls. To help you prepare, here is the language of each proposal, as it will appear on the ballot, and some comment about the significance to each proposed amendment.
Proposal One The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?
Despite the distracting language of the proposal--Who would say no to promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and lowering property taxes?--the issue here is whether or not to authorize casino gambling in the State of New York.
Proposal Two The proposed amendment to section 6 of article 5 of the Constitution would entitle a veteran who has received civil service credit for a civil service appointment or promotion and subsequently is certified as disabled to additional civil service credit at subsequent appointment or promotion. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Veterans currently receive additional credit on civil service exams: 5 points for an original appointment and 2½ points for a promotion. Disabled veterans receive 10 points for an original appointment and 5 points for a promotion. They can claim the additional credit only once. The amendment would give veterans who are not certified disabled until after they have been appointed to a civil service job the right to claim the additional credit that is available to disabled veterans.
Proposal Three The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 5 of the Constitution would extend for ten years, until January 1, 2024, the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to exclude from their constitutional debt limits indebtedness contracted from the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
The exclusion of sewer debt from the constitutional debt limits was originally authorized in 1963 to encourage municipalities to participate in the sewer construction assistance plan without jeopardizing their ability to incur debt for other capital improvements. Since 1963, the exclusion has been regularly extended in ten-year increments. This amendment would simply extend the exclusion for another ten years to encourage municipalities to upgrade their sewage treatment facilities.
Proposal Four The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to settle longstanding disputes between the State and private entities over certain parcels of land within the forest preserve in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. In exchange for giving up its claim to disputed parcels, the State would get land to be incorporated into the forest preserves that would benefit the forest preserve more than the disputed parcels currently do. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Another proposal with somewhat loaded language. The "Forever Wild" clause of the New York State Constitution prohibits the lease, sale, exchange, or taking of any forest preserve land. For more than a century, the titles to more than 200 parcels of land around Raquette Lake in the Town of Long Lake have been in dispute, with the State and private individuals both claiming ownership. The amendment would allow a settlement. The State would give up its claim to the disputed parcels; the private parties would make payments into a fund for the purchase of replacement land for the forest preserve. These payments could be reduced if the parties entered into conservation easements.
Proposal Five The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to convey forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, to NYCO Minerals, a private company that plans on mining the land. In exchange, NYCO Minerals would give the State at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with a minimum assessed value of $1 million, to be added to the forest preserve. When NYCO Minerals finishes mining, it would restore the condition of the land and return it to the forest preserve. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
The "Forever Wild" clause of the New York State Constitution prohibits the lease, sale, exchange, or taking of forest preserve land. This amendment would allow a land swap between the State and NYCO Mining. NYCO Mining would get to mine 200 acres of forest preserve land, and the State would get 200 acres of land to add to the forest preserve. Also, it seems that when NYCO Minerals has extracted all the wollastonite from the 200 acres, the land would be restored and returned to the forest preserve. An important consideration is that this would be the first forest preserve constitution amendment undertaken for private commercial gain rather than for a public purpose and public benefit, and hence would set a potentially dangerous precedent.
Proposal Six The proposed amendment to the Constitution, amending sections 2 and 25 of article 6, would increase the maximum age until which certain state judges may serve as follows: (a) a Justice of the Supreme Court would be eligible for five additional two-year terms after the present retirement age of 70, instead of the three such terms currently authorized; and (b) a Judge of the Court of Appeals who reaches the age of 70 in order to complete the term to which that Judge was appointed. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Although the (b) part of this proposal seems a bit incomprehensible, the upshot is that the amendment would allow Justices of the Supreme Court (including the Appellate Division) and Judges of the Court of Appeals to serve until they reach the age of 80.

Gossips has merely synthesized some of the information available about these proposals. To learn more, download the 2013 Voters Guide, Part II, published by the League of Women Voters of New York State.

1 comment:

  1. And the text of the legislation, red-lined to show changes, is also available on the Board of Elections' website, as are sample ballots: