Gerald Benjamin: New York State Constitution Conference to Debate Critical Issues of Expanding Casino Gambling and Redistricting Reform at Nov 29th Gathering in Albany Leading State University, Think Tank and Good Government Groups join together to host c

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Contact and Number: 
(845) 257-2901


Albany, NY — Ahead of the New York State legislature’s 2013 session, where legislators will consider second passage of two major constitutional amendments — casino gambling and redistricting — some of the state’s leading academic, think tank and government institutions announced today a public policy conference to discuss and debate the potential impact of these amendments, other recently advanced ideas for constitutional change and how to best reform the New York State constitution.

The conference, which will be held at The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany on November 29th is sponsored by Effective, Center for Research, Regional Education & Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY- New Paltz, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Government Law Center at the Albany Law School.

The conference will examine the two major state constitutional amendments expected to be considered by the Albany legislature during the next session. It will also look ahead to 2017 and the required ballot initiative asking voters to consider whether or not to hold a constitutional convention to consider further critical reforms to our state government.

The two major constitutional amendments, first passed this year, will be considered by the New York State legislature in 2013 for second passage and, if the proposed casino gambling and redistricting amendments pass again, they will be presented to the voters for approval in November of 2013.

“These two amendments are among the most important to be considered by New York in recent years. Timely information allowing the public to assess their strengths, weaknesses and implications is essential.” “Moreover,” Dr. Benjamin said, “the prospect of their being on the ballot provides a perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of a reformed state constitution for good government in New York.”

"We've seen great highs and terrible lows in New York State government in the last decade. This conference is an opportunity to reflect on those experiences and consider how our state's constitution can help us avoid those lows and get more of the leaders we will need to respond to the future challenges facing New York citizens," said Tom Gais, Director, Rockefeller Institute of Government.

“We are pleased to help to fund the conference,” said Bill Samuels, Co-Founder of Effective NY and Founder of New Roosevelt. “Continuing to improve upon our state constitution is essential to maintaining a vital and efficient government in Albany for the people. Reforming the constitution is a key step in helping to restoring trust and confidence in Albany and to make it the best legislature in the country.

"2013 could be a watershed year for New York as it will decide whether our state moves forward with an expansion of casino gaming and enacting independent redistricting reform that takes partisan politics out of reapportionment. Our upcoming forum at the Rockefeller Institute will discuss these issues, explore the possibility of State Constitutional change and highlight opportunities to reform and restructure state government. This conversation, this dialog, is exactly what New York needs and I am thrilled to be taking part in such an effort," said New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua). 

The conference speakers and panelists will include:

  • Robert Batson, Government Lawyer in Residence at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School;
  • Dr. Gerald Benjamin, Director, CRREO at SUNY – New Paltz and leading state constitution expert;
  • Christopher Bopst, Co-Editor, The New York State Constitution, 2nd edition;
  • Peter Galie, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Canisius College, leading expert on state constitutional history, and Co-Editor The New York State Constitution, 2nd edition;
  • Bruce Gyory, political and strategic consultant at Corning Place;
  • Dan Feldman, Associate Professor of Political Science, John Jay College, Attorney, and former Assembly member;
  • Brian Kolb, Minority Leader, New York State Assembly;
  • Richard Rifkin, Special Counsel to the NYS Bar Association;
  • Judge Albert Rosenblatt, Former Associate Judge, New York State Court of Appeals, Judicial Fellow, New York University School of Law;
  • Bill Samuels, Co-Founder and founder New Roosevelt Foundation
  • Alan Tarr, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies, Rutgers University - Camden;

The conference will feature two panel discussions. The first will focus on the constitutional issues in anticipation of the 2013 legislative session. The second considers more generally what could, or should, be removed from the current constitution.

New Roosevelt Foundation has helped provide funding for the conference.

People interested in attending can do so here: (Registration is free for those who do not need continuing legal education [CLE] credit.)  (This program has been approved for 3.0 CLE credits. Fee for CLE credits is $60.00. See the registration website for more information.)

If you are member of the media and would like to attend the conference or speak to any of the experts involved, please contact: Jay Strell, Sunshine, Sachs at strell [at] sunshinesachs [dot] com or 212.691.2800 or Heather Trela at htrela [at] albany [dot] edu.


Press Contacts

The Rockefeller Institute of Government

Heather Trela, (518) 443-5831, htrela [at] albany [dot] edu

Jay Strell, Sunshine Sachs, (212) 691-2800, strell [at] sunshinesachs [dot] com



Joshua Simons, (845) 257-2901, //us [dot] mc651 [dot] mail [dot] yahoo [dot] com/mc/compose?to=simonsj [at] newpaltz [dot] edu" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">simonsj [at] newpaltz [dot] edu


Minority Leader Brian Kolb

Josh Fitzpatrick (518) 542-2413



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