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Legislative leaders come out against constitutional convention


New York voters get a chance to decide in the fall whether the state should have a constitutional convention. Both state legislative leaders, however, say they are against it.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader John Flanagan appeared together Tuesday at a forum sponsored by the Albany Times Union’s Hearst Media Center.

Heastie said he worries that a constitutional convention would be steered by big-money special interests, and New Yorkers could end up losing rights in a constitutional convention instead of gaining them.

“We should be very, very careful in exposing the constitution to the whims of someone from outside the state who could decide to spend millions of dollars to put forth a position,” Heastie said.

Flanagan said there are better and less costly ways to change the state’s constitution. For instance, he said voters will get a chance this fall to decide whether to end pensions for politicians who are convicted of a felony.

“We have a mechanism, in my opinion, already in place,” Flanagan said. “And I’m comfortable with the way that works.”

Both issues appear on the November ballot.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.