News from the Associated Press - March 18, 2014

Associated Press
March 18, 2014

NY Senate rejects immigrant student 'Dream Act'

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Senate has rejected a bill to open state financial aid to students in the country illegally.

The 30-29 vote Monday evening was short of the 32 votes needed to pass. The Senate is controlled by a coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats.

The Assembly passed the Dream Act last month and included it in its budget resolutions last week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had indicated support.

The proposal included a budget appropriation of $25 million to open up Tuition Assistance Program money for students at both public and private colleges.

Opponents of the bill say it takes opportunity away from students in the country legally.

Texas, New Mexico, California and Washington state allow students who are in the country illegally access to state financial aid.

 

Cardinal Dolan lobbies for education tax credit

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York City's Cardinal Timothy Dolan and bishops around the state will be lobbying in Albany for a tax credit designed to help schools.

Dolan and the bishops are scheduled to meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders Tuesday. They are advocating for a new tax credit for charitable donations made for educational purposes. The legislation would eventually add up to $300 million a year for education, with half going to public school programs and half going to scholarships for students who attend private schools.

The state Senate has previously approved a bill with the investment tax credit.

The New York State Catholic Conference is now asking state leaders to include the credit in the budget due April 1.

 

Cuomo pushes NY property tax plan to local leaders

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promoting his property tax rebate plan with local officials as state lawmakers begin a series of public discussions of the budget due April 1.

The moves kick off an intense two-week stretch as Cuomo and lawmakers try to agree on a budget deal by the deadline.

Cuomo's budget proposal includes giving tax rebates to homeowners in jurisdictions that meet the spending limit and then consolidate services to save money. Democrats in charge of the Assembly have rejected Cuomo's plan.

Cuomo promoted his plan at a Capitol news conference Monday with the county executives of Albany, Ulster, and Nassau counties.

Also Monday, the Senate and Assembly have begun a series of joint conference committee meetings to consider differences in the budget.

 

Pa. House panel OKs bill on gas drilling royalties

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A bill that would limit the ability of natural gas exploration companies to deduct costs before paying royalties to Pennsylvania landowners has the approval of a state House committee.

The bill passed the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on Monday, 15-to-10.

It's opposed by industry groups.

The bill is being spurred primarily by complaints about allegedly exorbitant post-production costs deducted by natural gas exploration giant Chesapeake Energy before it pays landowner royalties. Under the bill, companies could deduct post-production costs, but a landowners' royalty payment couldn't go below one-eighth of the gas sale proceeds in the commercial market.

It would apply to existing and future drilling leases, but industry groups say it would unconstitutionally alter the terms of legal contracts that are already in force.

 

28 attorneys general want tobacco out of stores

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Attorneys general from 28 states and U.S. territories have written to the chief executives of major U.S. pharmacy chains urging them to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Following the decision by CVS Caremark to stop selling tobacco in its stores, the chains Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Safeway and Kroger are being asked to follow suit.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says pharmacies increasingly market themselves as sources for community health care, sending "a mixed message" by continuing to sell "deadly tobacco products."

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says voluntary decisions by the national retailers will also help keep tobacco away from youths.

According to Schneiderman's office, the attributable health care costs of smoking are at least $289 billion annually.

 

NY: Nearly 8,900 licenses suspended for back taxes

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says nearly 8,900 New Yorkers have had their drivers licenses suspended for failing to pay taxes they owe the state.

The suspensions are a result of legislation that encourages people who owe more than $10,000 in back taxes to settle with the state Tax Department.

Cuomo says another 6,500 people have either paid their debt or are on a payment plan, resulting in a tax collection increase of roughly $56.4 million for the government.

Drivers have 60 days from the date they receive the suspension notice from the Tax Department to arrange payment. The Department of Motor Vehicles sends a second letter after the 60 days, providing an additional 15 days to respond.

DMV is then authorized to suspend the license until the debt or a payment plan is arranged.

 

JetBlue to start service at Albany airport in '15

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — JetBlue says it plans to start daily service at the Albany airport, the last of the large airports in New York state to land the low-cost airline.

Sen. Charles Schumer has joined local officials and executives from New York-based JetBlue to make the announcement Monday at Albany International Airport in suburban Colonie (kah-luh-NEE').

JetBlue will start operations at the airport in 2015. Schumer says Florida will be one of the destinations serviced by JetBlue. Specific routes haven't been announced.

Albany will be the airline's eighth market in the state. JetBlue already services Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Newburgh, Westchester and both New York City airports.

Schumer was at the Albany airport last month to call on JetBlue to start serving the state capital, a move that's seen as potential boost to the local economy.

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