News from the Associated Press - July 18, 2014

Associated Press
July 18, 2014

Pa. court further limits gas drilling law's reach

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania court says a state agency cannot review how local zoning restrictions affect the natural gas industry, but it's leaving intact other parts of a 2012 law that modernized drilling regulations.

Commonwealth Court on Thursday threw out the Public Utility Commission's power to withhold drilling fee revenue from municipalities whose zoning it deems to illegally restrict drilling activity.

The decision follows December's state Supreme Court ruling that said the law couldn't strip local zoning authority over drilling activity.

The new decision upholds limits on what doctors can reveal about the proprietary contents of hydraulic fracturing solutions. It also refuses to require the state to notify private water users of potential drilling contamination and rejects the argument that the law authorized illegal private eminent domain for natural gas pipelines and storage.

 

Cuomo campaign creates Women's Equality Party

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign and prominent Democrats have created a new Women's Equality ballot line for the fall election.

Cuomo's running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul, announced the third-party ballot line on Thursday in New York City. New York election law allows major party candidates to also run on third-party ballot lines.

The party supports a 10-point women's legislative agenda that includes help for domestic violence victims, tougher human trafficking laws and the codification of federal abortion rights in state law.

It will be up to the new party's organizers to endorse candidates.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is also seeking to add a new ballot line called the "Stop Common Core" line to attract voters upset with the state's new educational standards.

 

New York proposes regulations for virtual currency

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York regulators have proposed establishing a framework for commerce in virtual currency that would apply to firms involved in receiving, transmitting and storing it, as well as retail conversions.

The proposal by the Department of Financial Services would establish a so-called "BitLicense."

Merchants and consumers who use the virtual currency Bitcoin and others solely to buy and sell goods and services wouldn't need a license. However, those buying and selling virtual currency as a business would.

The proposal, following a yearlong department study, is intended to establish consumer protections and prevent money laundering.

Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky says his agency is trying to do that without stifling innovation.

The proposed rules will be published next week, followed by a 45-day comment period.

 

NY pension fund seeks political spending reports

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's $176.2 billion pension fund for public workers this year has proposed 29 corporations more thoroughly disclose their political spending.

Three have agreed to do it: Comcast, Peabody Energy and CF Industries.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the fund's trustee, says the proposal has received majority approval despite board opposition at Valero Energy and Dean Foods.

At six others, it got at least one-third support.

The proposal calls for annual reporting of spending on candidates, political parties, ballot measures, direct or indirect state and federal lobbying and to any trade associations used for political purposes.

The resolutions are non-binding.

 

NY awards $11M to 68 after-school programs

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Sixty-eight after-school programs around New York state are set to get nearly $11 million in new funds from the state and federal government.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced the grants Thursday. The programs that received the grants provide three hours of after-school education, recreation and cultural opportunities to some 8,000 students.

Cuomo's office says after-school programs are a proven way of helping kids get extra help with classwork while forming friendships and staying out of trouble once the school day ends.

The 68 programs that will receive awards are located in counties around the state.

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