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Kolb encourages action on state convention

PENN YAN—Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Assemblymen Jim Bacalles and Tom O’Marra spoke to residents Friday, June 11, about calling a state constitutional convention early.
The town hall meeting was held in the Penn Yan Middle School auditorium and was attended by about 30 people. It was put together by the Finger Lakes Tea Party.
Kolb explained he, and other members of the state legislature, want to pass a bill to start the state constitutional convention process early. He explained that since 1938, the people of New York have the chance every 20 years to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention. This means making changes, or even rewriting, the state constitution. Kolb explained that 2017 would be the next time New York residents would have a chance to vote on this, but that’s too far away.
He said that the current state of New York’s government shows there needs to be changes, and sooner rather than later. Kolb, Bacalles and O’Marra told the people in attendance they are trying to get the vote to happen early, like later this year. Kolb also talked about the changes they want to who can serve as a delegate in the constitutional convention.
He explained that if the majority of residents approve holding a constitutional convention, whether this year or in 2017, the next step is for people to petition to become delegates. Those delegates then get to propose changes to the state constitution and the people then vote on the final result.
Kolb said he wants to make changes to who exactly can serve. He explained that beyond being a New York state resident and over 18 years old, there are no restrictions on who can be a delegate. Kolb said that the last times a convention was held, though, the delegates were predominately politicians. He explained he wants to make it so a politician could not hold two offices, for example their own position and as a delegate. Kolb said that way, the people would have more say in what the constitution says.
Kolb, O’Marra and Bacalles also outlined some of the changes to state government they would like to see in a revised constitution. Kolb said the movement he is part of would like term limits for legislators. Kolb explained delegates would be able to make changes to anything, as long as it would not usurp power from the federal government.
That much potential for a wide range of topics is one of the reasons some people are against calling for a convention at all. Kolb explained opponents to the convention are those who like the current status quo, and who use “fear mongering” about things being cut.
Kolb said he has support in trying to get an early convention from other legislators, both Republican and Democratic, as well as from all the gubernatorial candidates. He encouraged the people in attendance to talk to friends and family, especially in other parts of the state, about calling the convention early.

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