“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”
- Thomas Jefferson
EffectiveNY has one goal: Restoring New York State's reputation as the national policy leader by studying both existing policies and the New York State Constitution's often outdated 1894 provisions that still contribute to statewide dysfunction. In order to come up with the best creative solutions to these problems the EffectiveNY seeks to engender informed discussion, debate, and action regarding changes to New York State's Law and Constitution that will produce more democratic, responsive, and EFFECTIVE state and local government.
The purpose of this project is to focus both on formal constitutional change, matters that might be put before the voters for action at referendum, as well as major topics effecting the state that may be better handled through statute.
The EffectiveNY is a multi-year project of Effective New York Foundation, Inc., a New York State Not-for-Profit, founded by Bill Samuels, that has filed for 501(C)(3) status.
Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb joins Samuels as founder and leader of the EffectiveNY with a long history as a strong advocate for reforming New York State through Constitutional Change.
Research for the EffectiveNY is provided by the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz under the direction of Professor Gerald Benjamin, a well-known scholar in the field of New York state and local government studies and a former Research Director for the State Commission on Constitutional Revision.
Constitutional change in New York may be achieved both by formal proposal for action by the voters - either through amendments passed by successive sessions of the legislature or by holding a state constitutional convention - or by court interpretation.
Though there is little public awareness of the particulars of our state constitution, and no consensus on what changes might be needed, recent polls have indicated a willingness of New Yorkers to consider calling a state constitutional convention. In fact, a number of state leaders including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb are advocates of holding such a convention. Whether or not that is the best approach is in and of itself one of the initial topics debated.
The focus will be on discussion of current topics related to New York State's Constitution and Law with a review of different solutions to make our State EFFECTIVE. Some topics are more developed than others and all topics will under go updates, revisions, and the addition of different opinions than are initially listed.
Responsive to events, state constitutional and legal issues arise with regularity. Recent examples include campaign finance reform, redistricting, filling vacancies in high elective office, power sharing in budgeting, the strengthening of constitutional affirmative rights provisions, and lifting restrictions on gambling. Through our efforts we seek to focus increased professional attention, and by doing so to develop and inform public discourse in New York about these and other issues and/or processes that have (or might have) a state constitutional dimension.
The EffectiveNY's goal is not to advocate a particular point of view on one or the other substantive matter, but to encourage widespread serious consideration of what is now in New York State's Constitution and Law, why it is there, what might be changed, what might be removed and/or what might be added, along with whether items should be in the constitution or statute.
The leadership of the EffectiveNY seeks to present a diversity of views on a range of constitutional issues facing New York and takes no joint position on any of the particular proposed changes to New York State's Constitution or Law. Signed essays or remarks represent the views of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Leader Kolb, Professor Benjamin, or Chairman Samuels.