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New York StateIn New York, voters don’t get to go to the polls and cast ballots on marijuana, gay marriage, and affirmative action.

State Senator Joseph Robach, a Greece Republican, has long wanted the state’s residents to be able to hold referendums. He submitted a bill outlining such a process. People would be able to propose laws and reject laws passed by the legislature:

For an initiative or referendum measure to appear on a
ballot, a petition setting forth the proposal must be filed with the
State Board of Elections and be signed by electors at least equal in number to 5 percent of the votes cast for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election. Such signatures must include at least 5,000 signatures from each of at least three-fifths of the State’s congressional districts.

The measure passed the senate in 2011, and was referred to committee in 2012. Robach submitted his bill earlier this month and it was referred to committee and the attorney general for an opinion.

Supporters of initiatives and referendums say they encourage voter engagement and give government mandates to do the people’s bidding. Opponents argue they weaken the power of elected bodies and allow politicians to avoid making tough decisions. Another argument against them is they can be used by the majority to deny rights to a minority, as we have seen with gay marriage votes.

Do you think New York should allow initiatives and referendums?

Links of the Day:

– Federal probation and a Colorado contractor appear to share blame for an accused murderer’s dismantling of his ankle monitor.

– The Bills want 128 more Sheriff’s deputies on game days patrolling the stadium. 

– There seems to be more news coverage of the FBI dog killed in Herkimer than the people.

– A Tax Foundation study found New York has among the highest taxes in the nation in almost every category.

Check out this virtual tour of Rush Rhees Library.