"I believe in the Initiative and Referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative." President Teddy Roosevelt,“Charter of Democracy” speech to the 1912 Ohio constitutional convention.
In the United States, "Referendum" often refers to a process by which a predetermined number of signatures can be collected in order to place on the ballot a question of whether to repeal an act of the legislature while "Initiative" often refers to a similar process for the purpose of originating or amending a new law or constitutional amendment.
At present, the New York State Constitution does not provide for Initiative or Referendum. Instead only the right to petition is guaranteed by the New York State Constitution's Bill of Rights in Article I Section 9 with the actual power to originate and amend laws or the constitution reserved for the legislature by Article III Section 12 and Article XIX Section 1 (with the exception of a constitutional convention which comes to a vote of the people every 20 years).
In order to allow for Initiative or Referendum the power to originate and amend the law or the Constitution would likely need to be expanded by amending the New York State Bill of Rights in Article I, as well as Article III on the Legislature and Article XIX on Constitution Change or simply adding a new article.
27 states currently have some form of Initiative and Referendum (constitutionally, statutorily or both) while New York does not. Empowering New York voters through direct democracy via Initiative and Referendum could foster increased participation in New York's civic affairs and state government, as well as providing an outlet for issues that have long been stalled in the legislative process.
Bill of Rights
§9. 1. No law shall be passed abridging the rights of the people ... to petition the government ...
§12. Any bill may originate in either house of the legislature, and all bills passed by one house may be amended by the other.
27 states currently have some form of Initiative and Referendum (constitutionally, statutorily or both) while New York does not.
26 states that have Initiative and Referendum: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
21 states that have Initiative via statute: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MA, ME, MI, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, OH, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
23 states that have Popular Referendum via statute: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
18 states that have Initiative provided via the Constitution: AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NV, OH, OK, OR, SD