- Associated Press - Sunday, October 1, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - In New York state government news, the debate over a constitutional convention heats up and Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes new tools to help authorities crack down on a powerful drug.

A look at stories making news:

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

The battle lines are drawn over whether New York should hold its first constitutional convention in 50 years.

Earlier this month, the New York State Bar Association came out in support of a convention, as did the League of Women Voters and the good-government group Citizens Union. Organized labor is opposed, as are top legislators and organizations including Planned Parenthood, the state’s Conservative Party and the state Pistol and Rifle Association.

Voters will decide in November whether they want to call a convention, where delegates would propose changes - or wholesale rewrites - to the state’s 121-year-old political blueprint.

Supporters say it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address corruption, government inefficiency, environmental protections and other important topics. Opponents, however, worry about activists using a convention to advance political causes like gun control or chip away at protections for abortion.

The question goes on the ballot at least every 20 years. Voters rejected calls for conventions in 1977 and 1997.

If approved, a convention wouldn’t be held until 2019 to give time for voters to pick delegates and organize the gathering. Voters would also have final say over any recommended changes.

“Our state constitution is broken. It is badly in need of repair,” said Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman. “New Yorkers deserve better.”

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TARGETING FENTANYL

New York may soon add 11 types of the synthetic fentanyl to the state’s list of controlled substances to make it easier for authorities to go after those who manufacture the dangerous opioid.

Fentanyl is a powerful drug that can be legally prescribed for pain relief. It’s also easily abused, and dealers have learned to manufacture different formulations of the drug.

Cuomo says he will introduce legislation to authorize the expansion, saying adding the synthetic versions of fentanyl to the list of restricted drugs will give police and prosecutors more tools to crack down on a lethal substance.

“Just to give you an idea, 3 milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person, where it takes 30 milligrams of heroin,” said Cuomo, a Democrat.

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COMING UP

Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan will hold a small business summit in West Seneca on Tuesday. Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon has a senior health expo scheduled Thursday.

The Senate holds hearings on recent flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River Oct. 10. On Oct. 12 the Assembly’s agriculture committee meets Oct. 12 to discuss state spending on agricultural programs.

On Oct. 30, the Assembly committees on health and corrections meet together to discuss health care in state prisons.

And on Oct. 25 the Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction travel to Cortland to hear from local residents and experts about the ongoing heroin epidemic.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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