Assemb. Kolb proposes recall elections

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In the wake of recent political corruption scandals, some Republican state legislators Wednesday proposed giving voters the power to recall elected officials.

"Recall elections demonstrate the will of the people and provide for a swift, decisive remedy when corruption rears its ugly head," Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) said.

Under his proposal, 20 percent of voters in a state legislator's last election would have to sign a petition to force a recall vote. For statewide officials, 1 percent of voters in at least five counties would have to sign the petition.

The legislation would appear to face long odds. The State Legislature would have to twice approve a bill to amend the state constitution, then voters would have to approve it in a statewide referendum.

Action for changes in election law and campaign finance laws has followed two recent indictments of state legislators on corruption charges. In one, prosecutors alleged that Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) and five others participated in a bribery scheme to rig a spot for Smith in the Republican primary for New York City mayor. The second alleged that Assemb. Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx) accepted bribes to write legislation to protect certain owners of adult day care businesses.

Some competing reform proposals now include using taxpayer money to publicly fund campaigns to limit the influence of big donors; holding "open" primaries to end party-boss control of ballot access; eliminating party "housekeeping" accounts that have few restrictions on use; and giving either the attorney general or an attorney appointed by the governor authority to investigate election-law violations.

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