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Movement for Constitutional convention gains traction

"They way I have structured the bill is that, if you are a state legislator and want to be a delegate, you will have to give up your position as a legislator - You can't do both," Kolb said. "We are trying to make this as non-partisan and non-political as possible."

If the Kolb bill passes, the state's citizenry would vote on whether to call the convention this November. Voters would then go to the polls and elect regional delegates in 2011.

According to recent poll data, new restrictions on term limits for lawmakers and greater transparency of campaign fund-raising are several of the many concerns now being raised by New Yorkers.

Other issues of interest to the statewide voters are ethics reform in both state legislative bodies and creating methods to create citizen-forced statewide referendums - like those that regularly occur in California.

Sayward said she would like to see term limits imposed and greater restrictions on how campaign money is spent.

But the Democratic leadership in both state legislative houses and Gov. David Paterson are skeptical of calling a convention five years early.

The state Constitution requires that the citizenry vote every 20 years on whether to hold one or not. In 1997, the voting public decided, after significant lobbying from public interest groups, to not hold one.

But citizens' collective mood may have changed - and that now apparently includes political power-brokers.

Former Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo is campaigning for the Constitutional convention to be held early. And following last month's state Senate coup, former Congressman Rick Lazio is calling for the state Senate to be abolished, creating a unicameral state governmental system.

Sayward said Monday she believes the roots of the Democratic leadership's resistance stems from a fear of losing political capital.

"The majority has everything to lose, because they get stripped of their power," Sayward said. "In my estimation, there is a fine line between good leadership and power - and when it slips and you have only power, it's time for you to go."

But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that the process is a costly risk with no guarantee of producing any substantive reform. Silver declined to comment any further on the topic.

The last Constitutional convention was held in 1967, but all proposed changes stemming from it were defeated by public referendum.

However, not all Constitutional conventions have been for naught. Revolutionary measures like the 40-hour work-week and the Forever Wild Clause of the state Constitution are direct results of previous constitutional conventions.

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