News from the Associated Press - April 30, 2014

Associated Press
April 30, 2014

Casino contenders to gather for mandatory summit

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Developers looking to build a casino in upstate New York are gathering in Albany for a meeting with state regulators.

Wednesday's conference is mandatory for anyone applying to build one of the four casinos authorized for the Catskills, the Albany-Saratoga area or the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region.

The meeting is intended to answer questions from potential casino developers. It will be open to the public.

Last week developers submitted casino license application fees of $1 million each for 22 different projects. Selections will be made this fall.

The Catskills and mid-Hudson Valley have attracted the most interest, with at least 10 development groups proposing casinos.


Gun control groups call for NY firearm storage law

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Buoyed by last year's passage of tougher gun laws, gun control advocates are urging New York lawmakers to go further by requiring firearm owners to securely store their weapons.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence on Tuesday called on lawmakers to pass legislation mandating that guns be stored in a safe or equipped with a gun lock.

Another proposal from the group would require all semi-automatic handguns sold in the state to be equipped with a device that stamps a unique code into a shell casing each time the gun is fired, making it easier for authorities to track guns used in shootings.

Lawmakers last year passed the SAFE act, which bans the sale of many semi-automatic weapons and requires those already owning such weapons to register them with authorities.


Reprieve for NY teachers facing licensing test

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — New York state education officials have adopted a safety net for teacher candidates who fail a newly required "bar exam."

The Board of Regents on Tuesday agreed to let student teachers who fail this year or next use a passing score on a previous test as proof they're ready to teach.

Before the Regents vote, any teacher graduating college after May 1 was going to have to pass the bar exam — called the edTPA (ehd-T-P-A) — to be certified. The test requires video and written proof of a would-be teacher's skills.

The state Education Department estimates the passing rate's been about 83 percent, but agreed to the safety net following backlash from those who say the exam's implementation was rushed.


NY agency to test air near crude oil shipping hub

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens says the state will start testing for air pollutants in the neighborhoods around Albany's Hudson River port, which has become a hub for crude oil shippers.

The testing program announced Tuesday is in response to residents and local officials who have raised concerns about the health and environmental impacts of increased crude oil shipments through the port by train and ship.

The port has become a major hub for shipping trainloads of crude oil from North Dakota to coastal refineries.

Massachusetts-based Global Partners is seeking permission to modify its air permit so it can heat thick, heavy crude at its port terminal to make it easier to transfer from one vessel to another.


Pennsylvania gets more bad budget news in April

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's tax collections in the all-important month of April are lagging badly, and it's threatening to knock Gov. Tom Corbett's election-year budget proposal out of balance.

Corbett met with top Republican lawmakers Tuesday evening but declined to say how he might address a shortfall.

House and Senate Appropriations officials say April tax collections are now so far behind projections that the only question is how severe the shortfall will be.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman says he expects a big enough shortfall to put Corbett's $29.4 billion budget proposal out of balance by about $1 billion.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government in New York suggests that states' tax collections are lagging because taxpayers sold off securities in 2012 to avoid higher federal tax rates on capital gains in 2013.


NY Civil War prison camp building to be rebuilt

ELMIRA, N.Y. (AP) — A building from a former Civil War prison camp in Elmira is going to be reconstructed at the original site of the camp, with plans to open it as a museum site.

John Trice of Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp tells the Elmira Star Gazette construction work is targeted for completion in early July.

The building has been disassembled in storage for many years.

The prison began operation in July 1864 on the grounds of Camp Rathbun, a Union Army training and muster point that fell into disuse as the Civil War progressed.

More than 12,000 Confederate soldiers were transported by rail to the camp, nicknamed "Hellmira." Nearly 3,000 died from malnutrition, exposure or disease.