Monthly Archives: January 2015

Governor Cuomo Proposes Election Law Reforms in State of the State “Opportunity” Speech

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a series of election law changes as part of his 2015 Opportunity Agenda . These proposals include: public financing of campaigns, restricting use of campaign contributions, lowering limits on campaign contributions and closing loopholes, improving New York’s voting system, changing the ballot design to make it simpler, expanding the voter registration period to increase electoral participation, modernizing affidavit ballot processes to be more convenient to voters and allowing candidates and voters to change parties easier.

These proposals can be found on pages 267 to 276 in The Governor’s Opportunity Agenda book.

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NY Law School To Host NYC Session on Prospects for Election Reform in the Digital Age

The Center for New York City Law, the Institute for Information Law and Policy, and the Impact Center for Public Interest Law will hold a panel discussion featuring:

Robert Bauer, Partner, Perkins Coie LLP; former Co-Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration; and former White House Counsel to President Obama

David Becker, Director, Election Initiatives, Pew Charitable Trusts

Michael Ryan, ’95, Executive Director, New York City Board of Elections

Moderator: Anthony W. Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Light supper and refreshments will be served

185 West Broadway
(between Worth and Leonard Streets)
Second Floor Events Center

Sponsor: Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, LLP

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Assembly Member David Buchwald Proposes Constitutional Amendment to Strip Convicted Elected Officials from Receiving Pension or Retirement Benefits

Westchester County Assembly Member David Buchwald has reintroduced legislation (A.377) to prevent convicted elected officials from receiving pension or retirement benefits after they are convicted of a felony in violation of the public trust. This bill was introduced as a constitutional amendment, requiring passage be two consecutively elected legislatures.

After the measure was reported by the Assembly Government Operations Committee last year, Buchwald  released the following statement (June 10, 2014):

Buchwald’s Ethics Bill on Pension Forfeiture for Corrupt Officials Passes First Ever Assembly Committee Vote

State Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) announced that his bill, which would strip pensions from corrupt officials who commit a felony in violation of the public trust (A.7173), has passed the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee by a vote of 9 to 4. Monday’s vote represents the first time a state constitutional amendment on this topic has been approved by an Assembly committee.“I am very pleased that the committee voted for meaningful ethics reform in Albany,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald. “This is a positive step forward for all New Yorkers, who I believe would overwhelmingly approve this constitutional amendment if it were placed on the ballot. The fact that convicted felons who violated their oaths of office sit in prison collecting state pensions not only damages public faith, but is a clear waste of taxpayer dollars. The time has come for a change.
”While New York State passed the Public Integrity Reform Act in 2011 to reduce benefits for public officials who abuse their power (Chapter 399 of 2011), it only applied to officials who entered into the state pension system after it became law. This new legislation would amend the State Constitution so that any corrupt official, regardless of when they took office, will know that they risk losing their taxpayer-funded pension.Monday’s vote comes on the heels of growing momentum for A.7173. The bill has gained the support of two prominent New York good government groups, the League of Women Voters of New York State and Common Cause/NY. It has been endorsed by the editorial boards of the Journal News, Schenectady Gazette, Utica Observer-Dispatch and Watertown Daily Times.
The bill is sponsored in the State Senate (S.1133) by Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany) where it was included in a legislative ethics package endorsed by the Senate Minority Conference in May. The legislation has picked up 91 Assembly co-sponsors, representing well more than the 76 votes needed to pass the bill on the Assembly floor, and now a majority in the chamber support the measure.Having now passed the Governmental Operations Committee, of which Assemblyman Buchwald is a member, billA.7173 still needs to pass through more committees before reaching the floor of the State Assembly. It next goes to the Assembly’s Codes Committee. Since Assemblyman Buchwald held a press conference on the bill in March, thirty additional Assemblymembers have signed onto the bill, signaling the increasing recognition that there needs to be a firmer line taken again corruption in government.Assemblyman Buchwald wrote a column this week for the publication City & State on the importance of passingA.7173, which can be read at http://www.cityandstateny.com/2/politics/new-york-state-articles/new-york-state-assembly/stop-funding-corrupt-officials.html.

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Assembly Member Felix W. Ortiz Seeks to End Use of Lever Machines in Local Elections

Brooklyn Assembly Member Felix W. Ortiz joined with advocates and county elections commissioners to seek an end to the use of lever voting machines used in local, village and school board level elections throughout the state. The Legislative Gazette covered an Albany press conference where the issue was raised.

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Jerry Goldfeder & Myrna Perez: 2014 Election Law Wrap up

Stroock, Stroock & Lavan’s Jerry Goldfeder and Brennan Center attorney Myrna Perez provide a wrap up of major 2014 election law developments in a New York Law Journal article.

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Livingston County Downsizes County Election Districts

Livingston County will be downsizing the number of election districts from 61 to 38 by April 1, in time for the 2015 election cycle. Read about it in the Genesee Sun.

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