News from the Associated Press - May 21, 2014

Associated Press
May 21, 2014

Cooperstown preps for visit from President Obama

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — The home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame is getting ready for a visit this week from President Barack Obama.

The president announced during his weekly radio address Saturday that he'll be in the upstate village of Cooperstown on Thursday to stress how tourism can lead to good-paying jobs.

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's website says it will be closed Thursday for Obama's visit to the shrine to the national pastime. He'll be the first sitting president to visit the hall.

The president's visit will provide a kick-start to what's expected to be one of Cooperstown's busiest summers in years. This season's highlights include Saturday's Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field, the Hall of Fame's 75th anniversary in June and induction ceremonies in July.


Pennsylvania gay marriage ban overturned by judge

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage has been overturned by a federal judge in a decision that makes same-sex matrimony legal throughout the Northeast.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III's decision Tuesday is a victory for 11 couples, a widow and one of the couples' two teenage daughters who filed the first challenge to the law. Gov. Tom Corbett's office had defended the law after Attorney General Kathleen Kane called it unconstitutional and refused to defend it.

Pennsylvania was the last remaining state in the Northeast to outlaw gay marriage.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the law inflicts harm on same-sex couples and their children by depriving them of the legal protections and tax benefits afforded to married couples.

An appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely.


Medical marijuana passes Senate health committee

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in New York has passed Senate's Republican-led health committee, one of a series of hurdles the measure will have to clear before becoming law.

One Republican voted in favor of the measure resulting in a 9-to-8 vote on Tuesday.

Advocates say recent changes to the Senate bill, which narrows the spectrum of diseases for which marijuana can be prescribed, made the bill more palatable to opponents.

The measure now moves into the finance committee before being brought to a vote in the Senate. Due to the power-sharing agreement between Republicans and the breakaway Democrats, each leader can block bills from being brought to the floor.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos says he supports medical marijuana use in oil form.


New York settles lawsuit with Internet lenders

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says New Yorkers charged illegally high interest rates by three Internet lenders his office sued last year can file refund claims.

The lawsuit claimed Western Sky Financial LLC, CashCall Inc. and WS Funding LLC and their owners charged annual interest rates for personal loans at rates ranging from 89 percent to more than 355 percent.

New York law sets the maximum rate at 16 percent. The companies are in South Dakota and California.

According to the attorney general's office, about 11,000 loans for more than $20 million could be refunded under the agreement signed Jan. 31.

Many borrowers have already received loan modifications and the companies paid $1.5 million in penalties.

The companies' attorney didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.


Food workers demand wage hike at NY statehouse

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Fast food workers from around New York state are urging lawmakers to let cities and towns set their own minimum wages.

The employees rallied at a McDonalds at the statehouse complex Tuesday. They support legislation to let local governments set the minimum wage to account for regional differences in the cost of living.

Shantel Walker makes $8.50 an hour job at a pizza restaurant in Brooklyn. Walker says that's not nearly enough to live in many places in the state.

Opponents have argued that raising the wage or letting cities set their own could force businesses to cut employees.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said on Monday that he wants lawmakers to vote to raise the minimum wage from $8 per hour to $9 before ending their legislation session next month.

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