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On November 4, 1997, the question "Shall there be a convention to revise the [state] constitution and amend the same?" will be submitted to the New York state electorate pursuant to the provision in the state constitution requiring that every twenty years the voters be given the opportunity to call for a constitutional convention. A longstanding constitutional concern in New York is local government and the relations between local governments and the State. With an eye to the upcoming vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention, this paper examines the place of local government and state-local relations in the New York Constitution.

Part I frames the analysis with a brief discussion of basic principles of local government and the state-local distribution of power and responsibility. Part II then reviews the principal provisions of the state constitution that address local government and intergovernmental relations. Finally, Part I brings together the themes of Parts I and II by addressing the disparity between the normative ideals of state-local relations and the actual provisions of the current constitution and by presenting some proposals for constitutional reform that might narrow the gap between principle and practice and thereby perhaps improve the performance of the state-local system in New York.


Law | State and Local Government Law