2023 Statewide Ballot Proposal 1: Constitutional Amendment Removing the Debt Limit on Small City School Districts
By Ashlyn Henrichs ‘25
October 19, 2023
On November 7, 2023, New Yorkers will be asked to vote on whether to approve an amendment to the New York State Constitution that would eliminate the constitutional debt limit for small city school districts (ballot proposal 1). The change would align the constitutional borrowing limits of small city school districts with the limits that apply to rural and suburban districts. This explainer outlines the constitutional basis for limitations on the ability of local governments and school districts to take on debt and explains the practical effects of the constitutional amendment to eliminate the constitutional debt limit for small city school districts. Click to download.
2023 Statewide Ballot Proposal 2: Constitutional Amendment Excluding Sewage from Local Indebtedness
By Michael Lennon
October 19, 2023
During the November 2023 election, New Yorkers will be asked to vote on whether to approve a proposed amendment to the New York State Constitution that would “Exclude indebtedness for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities contracted prior to 2034" (ballot proposal 2). If the measure is approved, Article 8, § 5(E) of the New York State Constitution would be amended to replace the words “two thousand twenty-four” with “two thousand thirty-four.” This explainer highlights the practical effects of the constitutional amendment to extend the time frame during which local governments can accrue debt related to construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities without impacting their overall debt limitations. Click here to download.
By Bennett Liebman
June 29, 2023
In 2022, the New York State Legislature Established the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government (COELIG) as the latest iteration in government ethics and lobbying oversight, replacing the former Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). While COELIG represents a new era of ethics oversight, the constitutionality of the new commission has recently come into question in two separate cases. This explainer explores these challenges to the constitutionality of the new commission, as well as legal precedents that may inform its future.
By Ariel Gougeon '24
April 3, 2023
Recent Executive Orders have prompted greater public awareness and scrutiny of the emergency powers of the Governor in New York State, revisions to those powers, and calls for further reform. This explainer lays out the statutory and constitutional bases for gubernatorial emergency powers in New York, as well their current limitations.
By Scott Fein and Tyler Otterbein '22
On November 2, 2021, New York voters approved an Amendment to the State Constitution’s Bill of Rights providing that: “Each person shall have the right to clean air and water, and to a healthful environment.” In those sixteen words, the right to a healthy environment was, for the first time, cloaked in constitutional protection in New York and deemed the equivalent to the sixteen current constitutional guarantees in the state Bill of Rights. Those rights include freedom of speech, trial by jury, religious liberty, habeas corpus, compensation for taking of private property, equal protection of law, and security against unreasonable searches and seizure.
There has been considerable commentary on the potential impact of the new Amendment, commonly referred to as the “Green Amendment.” The question yet unresolved is whether the Green Amendment will be no more than an abstract statement of a societal desire or a meaningful mechanism for citizens to safeguard their environment. This explainer outlines several facets of that question.
By Richard Rifkin
October 4, 2021
At this moment in time, our country is in the midst of a vigorous and often contentious debate with regard to the right to vote. Congress has several pending bills that are hotly contested, and many state legislatures have either adopted bills or are working on bills that will affect the voting process and procedures in their states. New York, where the rhetoric has been far more subdued, has also taken some action with respect to voting. Furthermore, New York voters will get to have a say in some of the choices our state will be making.