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Constitutions and Constitutional Conventions
New York's first state constitution preceded and influenced the development of the United States Constitution. In drafting state constitutions prior to the ratification of the national constitution, New York and its fellow original states established a tradition of dual constitutionalism that endures to this day. In establishing the basic framework of state government and protecting the rights of individuals, state constitutions serve functions parallel to the national constitution. However, as is the case with New York, state constitutions are able to go further in protecting certain individual rights and protecting the environment than the national constitution.
New York has adopted four constitutions (1777, 1821, 1846, and 1894) and held eight constitutional conventions (1801, 1821, 1846, 1867, 1894, 1915, 1938, and 1967). The Constitution of 1894, revised in 1938 and amended over 200 times, remains in place today. As provided in this document, the state legislature can propose a constitutional convention at any time, subject to approval by the electorate. However, the state constitution also mandates that the question of whether to hold a convention be submitted to the electorate every twenty years.