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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.


7 Responses to Should NY Allow Referendums?

  1. You already hit on my biggest argument against referendums: it makes it to easy for the majority to terrorize the minority. Also it will, despite what people might think, make the issue of money in politics worse. Right now it is bad enough but at least special interests have to split up their money advertising for dozens of candidates that they hope will be friendly to their wants rather than pay for a few issues to manipulate the public on.

  2. Not in this state, it’ll only serve as another tool for NYC to govern state politics.

  3. March 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm theodore e kumlander responds:

    what lovely pics of the rush rees libary. I always like the historical pictures. I wonder why we can build building like that anymore?

    referundums be interesting to see what the people really want and don’t want.

  4. March 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm Dean Ekberg responds:

    I think any thought that a referendum reflects “grassroots” desires is naive. It’s not at all difficult for innocuous, perhaps even positive-sounding names to be created by organizations whose aims are nefarious at best. Watch out for groups with names that start with things like “Concerned Citizens for …” It’s usually some group with lots of money who want to make sure that they still have lots of money when the thing is over. It takes megabucks to mount big petition drives to get these things on ballots, and that rarely means “John Q. Public.”

  5. Majority terrorize the minority? From my perspective, it is the minority terrorizing the majority. Those with the loudest voices seem to influence our elected leaders into decisions that the people who elected them clearly do not want. Referendums would balanced the scale and allow these gutless politicians an easy escape. I do agree that in our State, the will of the city of NY would control the outcome of any referendum. More than likely, any issue requiring a referendum would be an issue that upstate views negatively and NYC views positively. Upstate loses every time.

  6. March 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm Orielly responds:

    What is it about majority rule that is so wrong?

    Why not just say that DEMS are against hearing the voice of the voter or “we the people” and REPS want it to be heard?

    Easy for “the majority to terrorize the minority”? Really?

    I agree. The majority this past fall terrorized the minority, and elected Obama. Oh now I understand.

  7. March 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm Bob Lewis responds:

    This will never happen in NY because the leadership of the senate and assembly would never give up that much power to the voters. Giving the people the ability to force votes might bring up things like term limits or caps on legislature pay.

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