News from the Associated Press - January 13, 2014

Associated Press
January 13, 2014

NY lawmakers head back to work in Albany

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's Legislature starts its 2014 session in earnest this week.

The session officially started Wednesday with Gov. Andrew's State of the State address, but lawmakers did little more that day than gavel in and out. Lawmakers return to Albany on Monday and Tuesday for session days.

The Republican-dominated coalition in charge of the Senate on Monday will issue a report on hearings lawmakers held across the state on New York's regulatory climate.

Democrats in control of the Assembly have already introduced legislation to speed implementation of a $9 an hour minimum wage to the end of the year, a full year ahead of schedule.


NY lawmaker accused of harassment retires

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A Buffalo-area Assemblyman accused of sexually harassing female staffers says he will retire while continuing to defend himself against allegations he calls false.

Dennis Gabryszak has been accused by seven former and current employees in recent legal filings of making unwanted advances and other abusive behavior. It's the latest in a string of legislative sex harassment cases and public corruption scandals in Albany in recent years.

The 62-year-old lawmaker announced his retirement Sunday through his lawyer without giving a retirement date.

In recent notices of claim, Gabryszak is accused of grabbing one woman and trying to kiss her and of telling another during a 2012 event that, "You're so hot, you know what I want to do with you." The notices are the first step toward a lawsuit.


Worker advocates: Don't delay NY dairy inspections

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A farmworkers' rights group is calling on federal safety inspectors not to delay a program of surprise inspections of New York dairy farms.

Rebecca Fuentes of the Workers Center of Central New York tells The Post-Standard of Syracuse that the inspections are necessary because dairy workers are often reluctant to report unsafe conditions for fear of losing their jobs.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is scheduled to begin random inspections of New York dairy farms in July.

Seven members of Congress from upstate New York have asked OSHA to delay the inspections. They say the inspections could result in hefty fines that small dairies could not afford.

But Fuentes and other advocates say farmers should have plenty of time to correct safety violations by July.


State University of New York expanding online program; 'Open SUNY' rolls out 8 new degrees

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - New York state's 64-campus university system is undertaking a major virtual expansion, adding new online degree programs and enhancing academic and technical support for students taking classes via computer.

The State University of New York goes live Tuesday with the initiative it's calling "Open SUNY." It's set to launch eight new online degree programs at six campuses, with plans to add more in September.

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced plans for the expansion a year ago. The goal is to enroll 100,000 new online students over the next five years. SUNY currently has about 465,000 students overall.

SUNY continues to court the traditional college-age student, but also recognizes a new class of online learners among the nearly 7 million New York adults who completed high school but lack college degrees.


NY provides $5M aimed at jail alternatives

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York officials say 23 programs statewide will share more than $5 million in grants to support alternatives to jail and reduce recidivism.

The grants are administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

They include, for example, $300,000 to the Leadership Training Institute for cognitive behavioral programming and services for 135 people ages 16 to 24 while held at the Nassau County Correctional Center or following their release.

In his State-of-the-State address last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to establish a state Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration intended to coordinate and improve help for 25,000 people who leave New York prisons and more than 100,000 who leave its local jails annually.


Cuomo approves autism treatment license

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a law establishing a new state license for those treating clients with autism spectrum disorder using applied behavior analysis.

According to the governor's office, that should help families find quality providers who have met academic and training requirements and ensure state regulation and oversight.

Applied behavioral analysis is described as intensive, often one-on-one treatment method.

The license will require at least a master's degree for analysts and establishes a new state certification for analyst assistants.

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