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The State Senate unanimously approved a proposed constitutional amendment to permit the development of boating and other facilities along the Erie Canal.

The proposal, which is expected to be approved by the Assembly, also would create a fund for the maintenance and other development of the 456-mile canal. The fund would be created by a boating fee for use of the canal and its locks, according to Sen. John Sheffer, R-Williamsville, the bill's chief sponsor.

If the measure is approved by the Legislature again next year -- and signed by the governor this year and next -- the proposal can go before the voters in a statewide referendum next year.

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