The New York City Charter has existed in various forms for centuries. In 1897 (effective in 1898), the New York State Legislature adopted the Greater New York Charter to apply to the new five-borough New York City. In 1936 (effective in 1938), voters approved a referendum to create a “short-form” Charter for the City that replaced the earlier, much longer document. The modern New York City Charter defines the organization, functions, and essential procedures and policies of City government. It sets forth the institutions and processes of the City’s political system and broadly defines the authority and responsibilities of City agencies and elected officials. (The City’s Administrative Code generally contains the more detailed laws that are not found in the Charter.)
Charter revision commissions are temporary commissions, established under the authority of State law, that review the entire Charter and put any proposals for its amendment before the voters.
A charter revision commission may propose a broad set of amendments that essentially “overhauls” the entire Charter, or may narrowly focus its proposals on certain areas. (It can also propose an entirely new Charter.) The proposed amendments must be within the City’s local legislative powers as set forth in the State Constitution and State law. They may be submitted to voters as one question, a series of questions, or alternatives.
As mentioned above, charter revision commissions are temporary. A commission expires on the day of the election at which amendments prepared by the commission are presented to the voters. However, if a commission fails to submit any amendments to the voters, the commission expires on the day of the second general election following the commission’s creation. While most charter revision commissions have been appointed by the Mayor in recent decades, the last commission was created by the City Council’s enactment of Local Law 91 of 2018.
Currently, there is no charter revision commission in existence. This website provides key documents from several recent commissions.
Each Charter Revision Commission has held public meetings and hearings, and recent transcripts are available under the “Meetings” tab. The “Reports” tab contains the final reports and other important documents of several recent commissions, as well as the ballot questions and abstracts (summaries) proposed by recent commissions. The “News” tab houses archives of press materials from recent commissions, and the “Translations” tab contains archives of translated key materials from recent commissions.