- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - In New York state government news this week, farm workers rally for the right to unionize. Meanwhile, an environmental group is pushing to give New Yorkers a state constitutional right to clean air and water.

A look at the issues coming up in Albany:

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FARM WORKERS

A state law currently prohibits agricultural laborers from being able to organize, which workers say leads to harsh conditions, long hours and poor treatment.

Workers, labor activists and supportive members of the clergy plan to rally Tuesday in Albany to urge lawmakers to repeal the law.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is challenging the law in court on behalf of a former dairy farm worker who said he lost his job after his employers saw him meeting with other workers.

Farmers have traditionally argued against allowing workers to unionize, saying agriculture is different from other industries because a strike could jeopardize an entire harvest or endanger livestock.

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CLEAN AIR AND WATER

A proposed constitutional amendment would guarantee New Yorkers the right to clean air and water - a step that environmental groups say is necessary because of recent water and air quality problems and a push to roll back regulations in Washington.

Environmental Advocates of New York plan to detail the proposed constitutional change Wednesday.

The Democratic-led Assembly endorsed the amendment earlier this year but it hasn’t gotten a vote in the Republican-dominated state Senate.

If lawmakers support the idea, the amendment would go before voters.

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ONLINE LENDING

A legislative hearing scheduled for Monday will examine practices in the burgeoning online lending sector.

The joint Senate and Assembly event will focus on how the growing number and popularity of online lenders is affecting consumers and how well the state currently regulates the industry.

While online banking has created new financial options for many people, concerned lawmakers say high interest rates, hidden fees and vague loan details can pose significant risks to customers.

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SESSION WINDING DOWN

The 2017 session is entering its final four weeks as lawmakers look to resolve outstanding issues.

They include the extension of the state law giving Mayor Bill de Blasio control of schools in New York City, a proposal to end child marriage and a measure extending the statute of limitations on lawsuits and criminal prosecutions for child sex abuse cases.

Other top items, such as tighter ethics rules for lawmakers and changes to election laws, including early voting, aren’t expected to surface before the session ends.

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