Conversations have already begun in Albany about possibly holding a constitutional convention next year. As state house reporter Zack Fink explains, while New York voters have rejected changing the State Constitution for decades, ethical scandals in the State Capitol could be creating a cry for change.
Every twenty years, New Yorkers have an opportunity to open up the state constitution and propose amendments at a convention, something that hasn't happened since 1967. Even though it wouldn't be held until next year, a convention is already on the agenda of several good-government groups.
Last year the legislative leaders in both houses were tried and convicted of federal corruption. Reformers argue that the only way to truly fix Albany is to change the way government operates, including banning outside income for state lawmakers.
"The constitutional issues about cleaning up Albany are not necessarily based on outside income," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "So, there are advocates for example, people who want term limits. That's a constitutional question."
Twenty years ago, it was former Governor Mario Cuomo who was one of the most vocal advocates for holding a convention. Voters ultimately voted it down.
His son, current Governor Andrew Cuomo, has allocated $1 million in this year's budget to create a commission that would study how to hold a convention. And while the governor supports one, he hasn't said much about it publicly.
But, already political forces are starting to line up against a convention as they have In previous years. Critics say more often than not, it's the entrenched special interests who support the status quo and oppose making any changes.
Former Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco says he supports a convention in concept.
"I am a little bit concerned about the imbalance of 9.5 million people in New York City and the powers of some people who could invade a constitutional convention and it might not be good for upstate," said Assemblyman Tedisco.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has yet to take a public position.
"We haven't really as a conference talked about it," Heastie said. "There are a lot of things we need to finish up this year before we even get to that. So, let me get back to you on that."
Voters haven't approved any amendments to the state constitution since 1938.
And even though voters rejected a convention as recently as 1997, some say the environment this time around is much different.
"What's different from '97 and now is the level of voter anger and the stunning series of ethical scandals that have occurred," said NYPIRG's Horner.
Good government groups say if the convention process were to go forward they would like to see some reforms adopted now, like changing the way delegates are selected to give the public more of a direct say.