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2017 New York State Election & the Adirondacks | What You Need to Know

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This year New York voters will be asked to consider three ballot proposals on Election Day (Nov. 7). Two of the three should be very important to anyone who cares about the Adirondack Park.

Proposal One

Proposal One will ask whether voters wish to hold a Constitutional Convention. The NYS Constitution provides that this question must be asked of the voters every 20 years. A convention threatens the Forest Preserve’s “Forever Wild” clause protections, under Article XIV, Section 1, adopted in 1894.

The Adirondack Council is concerned that a convention unnecessarily risks weakening or eliminating the Forever Wild Clause. It is the strongest environmental protection law in the world. It remains strong because it cannot be repealed or weakened by government. Only voters may alter it.

Forever Wild protects drinking water and more than three-million acres of Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve from logging, lease, sale, development, and destruction. It safeguards nearly all of the motor-free Wilderness and never-logged, ancient forest remaining in the Northeast.

In Albany, there is corruption. In the last convention, the vast majority of delegates were state legislators, their families, staff, and/or friends. Delegates are elected by NYS Senate districts. The Senate and others have tried to weaken Article XIV. Special interests that support weakening “Forever Wild” and other constitutionally guaranteed protections will control the convention.

In addition, campaign finance laws and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United ensures that corporations and limited liability companies can make virtually unlimited contributions. Out-of-state corporations can exert enormous influence over a convention.

Reforms can and have been achieved without a convention. The Adirondack Council opposes a Constitutional Convention - a process that will open Article XIV to weakening.

 

Proposal Three

The other, Proposal Three, is a Constitutional Amendment that would create a modest land bank for Adirondack community health and safety projects involving roads crossing the Forest Preserve.

The Adirondack and Catskill Parks are special. Both contain a mix of public and private lands, arranged in a patchwork/checkerboard pattern. Private lands in both Parks contain communities, homes and businesses. Public Forest Preserve lands are protected by the NYS Constitution and must remain forever wild.

Periodically, a small section of Forest Preserve can prevent completion of a roadside municipal project. This amendment would create a small land bank (250 acres) to assist Adirondack and Catskill communities, when no alternatives exist.

Communities could remove dangerous curves, replace bridges, install utility lines (electricity, water, and telecommunications), drinking water wells or bike lanes along short segments of local roads that cross Forest Preserve. Currently, even the smallest of such projects would require an individual Constitutional Amendment.

To qualify, projects must be limited to one mile or less in length along the road’s edge. Lands removed from the Forest Preserve would be replaced. Larger, more complicated land swaps would still require a Constitutional Amendment, with approval by voters. The amendment doesn’t authorize installation of new gas or oil pipelines. The Adirondack Council supports this amendment.


To make sure you are registered to vote and find out more information on your polling location, visit https://www.elections.ny.gov/.

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