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Long Island News

Legislative Leaders Come Out Against A Constitutional Convention

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Mike Groll
/
AP
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, left, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, talk with media members after a general conference committee meeting on the budget in Albany, N.Y., in 2016.

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

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

Speaker Heastie says he worries 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.

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

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

Both issues appear on the November ballot.