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Monday, April 11, 2016

ALBANY -- New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda, saying "time is short," has asked Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue an executive order to create a commission to prepare for the 2017 voter referendum on whether to authorize a constitutional convention.

In an April 8 letter, Miranda noted that, although Cuomo had proposed a preparatory commission in his executive budget, the adopted state budget does not include one.

"However, previous commissions have been established by executive order," the letter said. "In 1937, Governor Lehman took this action in advance of the 1938 convention. Similarly, your father, as Governor, created a commission in 1993. We believe that the Governor's authority to do this is well established, and we now urge you to again create a commission by executive order.

"With the vote on whether to hold a convention to be on the ballot in November 2017, we can no longer wait for legislative approval. Time is already short. Thus, if a commission is to be appointed and be successful in its work, it is essential that you issue an order without delay," Miranda wrote in his letter.

As required by the state Constitution, New York voters will decide in November 2017 whether to authorize a convention to recommend changes to the state Constitution. Any changes would need to be ratified by voters in a statewide election.

Last November, the State Bar issued a report calling on the state government to establish a non-partisan preparatory commission to educate the public about the state Constitution and provide research in advance of the 2017 vote.

On April 5, 2016, the State Bar issued a second report drafted by its Committee on the New York State Constitution. It concluded that the balance of power between the state government and its localities has shifted and the topic of Constitutional Home Rule "is a subject ripe for consideration and debate."

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

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