News from the Associated Press - February 3, 2014

Associated Press
February 3, 2014

NY health chief to testify at budget hearing

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state's health commissioner will testify before a legislative hearing on Medicaid and health issues.

Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah will speak Monday when the state Legislature kicks off its second week of budget hearings.

The Senate and Assembly fiscal committees are examining Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $137.2 billion budget for the fiscal year starting in April.

Hearings on Tuesday will address housing and human services issues.


NY Farm Bureau says estate tax a top priority

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Farm Bureau says its top legislative priorities this year include the governor's proposal to raise the exemption threshold on the state's estate tax from $1 million to $5.25 million.

According to the bureau, some 3,000 farms are above the $1 million mark and may be land rich but cash poor.

President Dean Norton says the tax change is an opportunity to help farmers transition so the next generation can keep farming.

The bureau says its 2014 public policy agenda resulted from grassroots development involving its members from 52 county Farm Bureaus across the state.

The group says the rural economies in upstate New York and on Long Island depend on agriculture with nearly 200,000 jobs connected to farming.


NY grape growers to benefit from federal purchase

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand say they've successfully petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use $11.5 million to buy concord grape juice for use in domestic nutrition programs such as school lunches.

The U.S. grape industry has a surplus of Concord grapes used to make juice due to a large 2013 crop. The senators wrote to the USDA to help purchase some of the surplus to ensure that prices remain stable for the industry ahead of the 2014 harvest.

New York has 281 growers and over 9,700 acres of Concord vineyards in western and central New York and the Finger Lakes.The purchase will also benefit growers in Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas, Missouri, and Indiana.


New program to train NY residents for emergencies

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A new Citizen Preparedness Corps Training Program aims to train New Yorkers to be ready for disasters and emergencies.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the goal is to train 100,000 New Yorkers in 2014. More than 600 people in Staten Island and 600 in Suffolk County participated in the first trainings on Saturday led by the New York National Guard.

Cuomo also announced the launch of a new website,, to provide information about training sessions, disaster preparedness tips, and ways to volunteer in case of a disaster.

Participants in the training sessions receive a free Citizen Preparedness Corps Response Starter Kit. That includes a plastic drop cloth, first aid kit, face mask, safety goggles, pocket radio with batteries, flashlight, emergency blanket, duct tape, water, food bars, and work gloves.

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