News from the Associated Press - June 3, 2014

Associated Press
June 3, 2014

NY trooper killed on highway to be buried Tuesday

JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. (AP) - A funeral service for a state trooper who was struck and killed while making a routine traffic stop on a four-lane highway is to be held Tuesday morning.

Services for Christopher Skinner are slated for 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Johnson City.

The 42-year-old trooper was killed instantly when he was struck by a pickup truck around noon Thursday on Interstate 81 just north of Binghamton along New York's Southern Tier. The driver of the pickup, Almond Upton of Melrose, Florida, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Upton admitted to police that he deliberately swerved his pickup from the left passing lane to the right shoulder to hit Skinner. Upton had sideswiped two other vehicles with his 2014 Toyota Tacoma before hitting Skinner.


NY top court considers local bans on gas drilling

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's highest court is set to consider whether municipalities can use local zoning laws to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas.

The Court of Appeals will hear arguments in two cases where a midlevel appellate court unanimously concluded last year that state mining and drilling law doesn't trump the authority of local governments to control land use.

The challenges have been closely watched by an industry hoping to drill in New York's piece of the Marcellus Shale formation and by environmentalists who fear drilling could threaten water supplies and public health.

Hydraulic fracturing frees gas from deep rock deposits by injecting wells with chemical-laced water at high pressure.

State officials have been studying whether to permit, limit and regulate the practice in New York.


NY Assembly passes Dream Act - again

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Assembly has once more passed the Dream Act, but the measure's fate remains uncertain in the Senate.

The bill would extend state financial aid to students in the country illegally.

The Assembly passed the measure in February, only to see it go down in defeat in the Senate. The Assembly passed it again on Monday.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver urged opponents in the Senate to reconsider and said there's still time for the bill to pass before lawmakers adjourn later this month. He says students who would benefit from the proposal can't wait until next year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the measure and vowed over the weekend to help get it passed.


Liberal critic calls Cuomo 'untrustworthy'

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A Fordham University law professor who challenged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the backing of an influential liberal group says "this is just the beginning" of her fight.

Zephyr Teachout says she's considering running against the Democratic governor in the fall primary. She says Cuomo is "untrustworthy" and that she opposes the deal he reached with the Working Families Party to secure support for his re-election.

The party is backed by labor and progressive groups. Cuomo won their endorsement after promising to champion several liberal causes and work to return the state Senate to Democratic control.

Teachout won 41 percent of the vote at Saturday's party convention, which was marked by spirited protests of Cuomo's business friendly tax policies.

Teachout says the convention showed "deep dissatisfaction" with Cuomo.


New York in group welcoming pollution cuts

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York is among nine states already cutting greenhouse gases from power plants that say proposed federal guidelines for future national reductions are welcome.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sets pollution caps and requires using or buying credits to exceed them, says its states collectively have reduced carbon dioxide emissions from electrical generation by 40 percent since 2005.

However, the federal target by 2030 is another 44 percent cut for New York, based on 2012 pollution levels.

The emissions blamed for global warming come for burning fossil fuels, with coal the dirtiest, oil second and natural gas third.

Other reductions come from power plant efficiency, reducing consumption and adding solar and wind power.

New York officials say they are studying the 2,000-page federal proposal. They declined to immediately comment.


Corbett shuns tax increases amid worsening outlook

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett is telling lawmakers that he's against solving the state's growing budget shortfall with new tax increases.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman said Corbett told him and other top Republican lawmakers in a Monday meeting that he wants to balance the budget with spending cuts and one-time money transfers.

Corman says he'll explore whether the Senate's Republican majority will support such a plan. But Corman didn't want to reveal details before he briefs rank-and-file Republican senators.

A Corbett spokesman also wouldn't give details of Corbett's plan.

May's tax collections added more bad news, with the Revenue Department saying the state collected $108 million below expectations. That compounds a gap of more than $1 billion projected in Corbett's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

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