State lawmakers should receive the annual state revenue estimates, and get ready to get down to work on the state budget plan.  Local assemblyman Cliff crouch explains:


(Cliff Crouch 3-3-14)


The deadline to get the state budget passed in April 1st.


The new 5-year federal farm bill has provisions to tackle Lyme Disease, with important research already being accomplished in New York.  Congressman Chris Gibson explains:


(Gibson 3-3-14)


Farmers who need assistance with learning all of the changes in the new farm bill can contact Cornell Cooperative Extension.


Governor Cuomo announced that the State DMV is making additional information available to prosecutors about a driver’s ticket history so that the prosecutors can make more informed judgments when considering a plea for a current driving charge. The information will be available for tickets issued during the past 10 years when the original charge was a point bearing violation, a drug or alcohol related offense, or was for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Currently, only data on convictions is available to prosecutors.  Access to this information is restricted to District Attorneys, paralegals and investigators working under the supervision and control of the DA’s and other prosecutors authorized by a DA’s office.


US Senator Charles Schumer is calling on federal regulators to set guidelines to protect consumers as car companies collect personal information through “smart car” technology and sell it to third parties.  Schumer announced Sunday that he’s asking the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish guidelines requiring carmakers to notify drivers when they are being tracked and allow drivers to opt out completely from sharing information.


Governor Cuomo will hit the airwaves to promote his property-tax freeze.  The governor will appear in a TV ad to push lawmakers to support his proposal to freeze property taxes for two years, if local governments and schools stay under the tax cap and move to streamline services. Cuomo said New York couldn’t thrive by having among the highest property taxes in the nation. He started a website to promote the tax freeze at cutpropertytaxes.ny.gov.


Maple producers in New York are planning open houses the last two weekends in March, but so far the season is off to a slow start because of frigid weather. The best weather for sap is daytime temperatures in the low 40s and nighttime lows in the 20s. This winter has been so cold that many producers haven’t been able to get any sap yet and they are several weeks behind.


Public meetings begin this week on proposals for high-speed passenger rail service in New York. The 1st of 6 hearings is tomorrow in Albany. Meetings are also planned in Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Utica and Poughkeepsie. The state Department of Transportation said 5 options are proposed in an environmental review required for federal funding. Under the options, trains would have top operating speeds of 79, 90, 110 and 125 mph. The costs of the plans range from $1.7 billion to $6.2 billion.


Governor Cuomo announced regulations that will better protect New York consumers who hire a tax preparer. The rules will reduce errors and omissions on tax returns, reduce fraud and increase the level of competence and ethics among preparers. The governor said that unethical preparers will advertise low fees & then increase them after the fact, they also seek to have refunds placed into their own accounts and then redistribute the money later, while stealing a portion of the refunds, more information is available at 518-530-HELP.


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