Over 160 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the United States. Now in 2023, state lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment that would mark an “end of slavery for all” by ending forced labor in prisons in the state of New York.

The amendment’s state Senate sponsor, Zellnor Myrie, told Capital Tonight that the amendment would make a “statement” that “we will not have slavery by any form or by any name exist in this state.”

Amendments to the state constitution require approval from two separately elected legislatures before it heads to the voters for their approval. If a majority of voters support the amendment, it will go into effect. This amendment would change Article 1 of the state constitution, where rights are outlined similar to the federal Bill of Rights.

The bill received some bipartisan support in the state Senate before the end of the scheduled legislative session this past June, but did not get a vote in the state Assembly. The amendment must clear that chamber by the end of 2024 before it goes to the next Legislature. Myrie says he is “confident” the amendment will pass in the state Assembly, where Democrats hold a supermajority, but there just wasn’t enough time before the session ended in June.

Myrie is also the sponsor of the bill, which has become known as the “Clean Slate” bill and passed the state Legislature this year. Myrie told Capital Tonight that there is no timetable on when the bill will be sent to the governor, but he is “confident” that she will sign the bill when it gets to her desk.