New York’s top court will hear arguments in two cases that challenge whether towns, cities and villages can ban natural-gas drilling within their borders. The state Court of Appeals agreed to take on cases against the towns of Dryden, Tompkins County, and Middlefield, Otsego County, despite unanimous rulings upholding those towns’ drilling ban by a mid-level appeals court. Both Dryden and Middlefield had passed zoning laws that officially prohibited gas drilling and hydraulic fracturintg. Attorney Scott Kurkoski argued that the state’s Environmental Conservation Law gives all regulatory authority to the state when it comes to oil-and-gas mining.
Gov. Cuomo visited three upstate counties today to provide local officials and residents an update on the state’s efforts to help them recover from severe flooding earlier this summer. Cuomo made stops in Herkimer and Madison counties. The governor provided details on the state’s flood recovery program. A dozen upstate counties suffered damage from severe flooding June 28 through July 4. Herkimer and Madison counties were among the hardest hit areas.
New York voters could decide next year whether the state should borrow $5 billion to cover some of its infrastructure needs. A bill introduced this month would ask voters to allow the state to issue $5 billion in bonds to pay for repairs to aging municipal sewer and drinking water systems to boosting the number of community gardens to initiatives that improve air quality. The proposal calls for the funds to be split up three ways: $2 billion for improving the state’s clean water resources, $2 billion for sewage infrastructure repair and $1 billion for programs improving air quality or preventing urban pollution.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act. Doctors must now check a patient’s narcotic prescription history before issuing or refilling a prescription. The measure was passed by the state Legislature in 2012. Under the law, a real-time database was set up to track every narcotic prescription filled in the state. Schneiderman said the growing problem of prescription drug abuse was aided by a patient’s ability to go “doctor-shopping” and get several prescriptions filled at a time. The law, he said, will end the ability to do that in the state.
With medical expenses among the nation’s highest, New York has begun cutting Medicaid costs by replacing pay-as-you go services with managed care for prescription drugs. The goal is pushing treatment into lower-cost primary care and prevention. The state will also extend that approach to other medical services. Nearly half the $53.5 billion Medicaid budget for 5.3 million low-income New Yorkers goes for fewer than 700,000 chronically ill, elderly patients. The Kaiser Foundation says the state’s annual health care spending averaged $8,341 per person in 2009, fifth highest among states. For more information go to health.ny.gov.
A Rochester man has admitted stealing more than $100,000 in valuables while working as a U.S. Postal Service mail handler. 34 year old Jeremy Lieberman worked in the Rochester Logistics and Distribution Center, where he stole $128,000 in diamonds, coins, gold, jewelry and other items between January and May. He pleaded guilty to theft while working as a postal employee. Lieberman faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing is set for Dec. 4.
Binghamton University’s Research Foundation has received a $1.1 million grant, from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, to support the New York State Trade Adjustment Assistance Center. The centers support a range of technical, planning and business recovery projects to help companies and the communities that depend on them adapt to international competition and diversify their economies. Funds will help companies make improvements in manufacturing, engineering, marketing, quality control, information technology and market development.
The apple picking season is getting underway and the public won’t be disappointed. There’s plenty of big red apples growing in orchards. During the 2012 season, an early spring caused the apple trees to bloom a month early. Many farmers had significant crop losses when a cold snap came a few weeks later. But this year, farmers say they’ve had perfect weather conditions and the harvest is right on schedule. Paula Red and Ginger Gold apples are among the earliest blooms which are ready are for picking now. Other varieties will be ready in September and October.
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will soon resume its regular hours of operation. Beginning Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2, the Museum will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Hall of Fame is open seven days a week year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit baseballhall.org.