Initiative and Referendum, Popular Vote Bills On Today’s Senate Agenda

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Also on today’s Senate agenda is a bill that would allow New York to put issues on the ballot, called initiative and referendum.

And in another election issue, the Senate is poised today to pass a bill that would enter New York into the National Popular Vote movement — which would elect the president by popular vote nationally rather than the Electoral College.

Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano is the national spokesman for the National Popular Vote effort and was in Albany last month meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers to push for the bill’s passage.

The measure has passed seven states, including Vermont in April, giving the effort about one-third of the electoral votes needed for the initiative to take effect. It has passed in Hawaii, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington D.C.

The measure passed the state Senate last year under Democratic control and appears set for passage again today. However, the measure faces an uphill battle in the Assembly, where Democrats have largely rejected the measure. It hasn’t moved out of the Assembly Election Committee since January.

The initiative and referendum bill is sponsored by Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, Monroe County. The measure would allow voters to put issues on the ballot, which is the case in 45 other states. It would require signatures from at least 5,000 signatures from each of at least three-fifths of the state’s congressional districts.

It would also be a constitutional change, meaning it would have to pass two consecutive legislatures. It is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, D-Buffalo, — who isn’t the most popular guy in his chamber these days because of his public criticism of Speaker Sheldon Silver.

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  1. A survey of 800 New York voters conducted on December 22-23, 2008 showed 79% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    By gender, support was 89% among women and 69% among men.

    By age, support was 60% among 18-29 year olds, 74% among 30-45 year olds, 85% among 46-65 year olds, and 82% for those older than 65.

    By race, support was 78% among whites (representing 67% of respondents, 78% among African Americans (representing 18% of respondents), 86% among Hispanics (representing 12% of respondents), and 70% among Others (representing 4% of respondents).

    Support was 86% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, 78% among Independence Party members (representing 8% of respondents), 50% among Conservative Party members (representing 3% of respondents), 100% among Working Families Party members (representing 2% of respondents), and 7% among Others (representing 7% of respondents).

    http://nationalpopularvote.com/pages/polls.php#NY_2008DEC

  2. It looks like no action was taken on the NPVIC in the Senate today. There are no updates from today on the bill, but there are updates from today on most of the other bills on the active list today.