News from the Associated Press - April 8, 2014

Associated Press
April 8, 2014

DiNapoli rejects public campaign financing trial

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Incumbent New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is rejecting public campaign financing for his fall re-election bid, although any opponents can still use it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last week authorized testing public financing in one statewide election this year — the race for comptroller.
New York's chief financial officer oversees the state's $173 billion pension fund and a large staff of state auditors.

DiNapoli has advocated public campaign financing to reduce the influence of money in politics, but he calls this pilot program "a poor excuse for real reforms."

Meanwhile, he has raised more than $2.1 million from private campaign donors.

The law would authorize matching public funds of $6 for each dollar of eligible contributions with limits of $4 million each for the primary and general election.


Pennsylvania Senate takes step on cash gift ban

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state lawmakers are taking another step to ban cash gifts after recent allegations that several House members accepted cash from a confidential informant in a criminal investigation.

The Senate State Government Committee approved a bill Tuesday to punish government officials and employees for accepting cash gifts from anyone seeking to influence public policy. It goes to the full Senate.

It would apply to cash, check, money orders, prepaid cards, gift certificates and gift cards. Accepting a gift of $250 or more would be a felony.

House leaders last week imposed a ban on cash gifts to the chamber's members and employees.

Current law lets Pennsylvania lawmakers and the governor accept any amount of gifts, dinners, trips, event tickets and the like from anyone, although it might violate conflict-of-interest laws.


Judge to hear arguments to force seismic testing

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal judge in Pittsburgh must decide whether a township that doesn't have a seismic testing ordinance must let a Texas company use its roads to conduct the tests, which use underground explosions to search for natural gas deposits.

ION Geophysical Corp. of Houston sued Hempfield Township, located about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, asking the judge to allow the tests. The company claims Hempfield refused to allow the tests, even though the company otherwise has the proper permits.

The company wants Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill on Monday to keep the township from regulating the company for a year even if it passes an ordinance.

The township's attorneys argue the municipality has a right to control its roads.

The company uses trucks to measure the seismic vibrations used to map the gas deposits.


NY state health exchange reports 908,000 enrolled

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The state Health Exchange says 1.26 million New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 908,000 have enrolled for specific coverage.

The Department of Health says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes nearly 422,000 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and nearly 487,000 in government-funded Medicaid.

More than 70 percent were uninsured.

Open enrollment ended in March for 2014 coverage at state-approved rates, though it continues through April 15 for those who took steps to apply in advance but didn't complete it.

Individual insurance enrollments will continue for individuals who marry or divorce, gain a dependent, lose employer coverage or move into the state.

Enrollments for Medicaid and for businesses with up to 50 employees continue through the year.

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