The New York State Constitution

New York Legislative Service, Inc. is the only research group known to compile histories of Constitutional changes.

Occasionally, we are asked for a legislative history of a Constitutional amendment. Since the legislative process may be only a part of a constitutional amendment and it is not submitted to the Governor for approval, there is no Governor's Bill Jacket which is the official legislative history for a Senate or Asembly bill in New York. There is information to be found, however. Where changes have been initiated by the Legislature, the change can be documented by the Sponsor's Memo, Bar Association Reports, and Senate and Assembly debate transcripts.

Generally, here at New York Legislative Service, Inc., the histories that we compile are for an Article and section of the Constitution, which spans that section's entire history.

The State Constitution can be amended in two ways; either through a "legislative process" or by a constitutional convention. Under the first method, an amendment may be proposed in either house of the Legislature. It must be passed by two successive, separately elected Legislatures. It may then be submitted to the people in a referendum. If it is approved by a majority of those voting on the question, it becomes a part of the Constitution.

The second way to amend the Constitution is through a constitutional convention. The Constitution provides that every 20 years the question, "Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend same?" must be placed on the ballot. This question appeared on the ballot in 1997 and was defeated. The next time this question will appear on the ballot is 2017.

The documentation for Constitutional Conventions usually takes the form of a set of books, for example, the Convention of 1938 has a set of 8 books which takes up 40 inches of shelf space. It is from this type of material that most documentation is drawn to compile the history.