New York Climbs To Number 10 In National Health Ranking

WBFO (BUFFALO) - A report ranking all 50 states on how they’re dealing with public health issues places New York at number 10 this year. The 2017 America’s Health Rankings report from the United Health Foundation looks at 35 measures covering behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care, and outcomes data to rank every state across the nation in how they deal with public health issues. Moving up three ranks since last year, New York State now sits at number 10 in the country. “What that tells us is that New York is doing fairly well and progressing towards becoming a healthier and healthier state,” said Dr. Adam Aponte, Medical Director of UnitedHealthcare Community and State for New York. “It’s still not in the top five, but interestingly enough the top five are all in the northeast region.”

Among the five categories, New York’s best overall average comes in the policy arena where it ranked eighth in the nation.

Cuomo Calls For Major Investment, New Approach To Algal Blooms

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an investment of $65 million into fighting algal blooms that have created an increasing number of problems across the state in recent years. The Cuomo administration will target 12 priority lakes in four different regions that are vulnerable to harmful algal blooms. They are all different, and lessons learned form studying each lake would be applied to other similar lakes going forward. Greg Boyer of SUNY ESF in Syracuse has been studying algal blooms for years. He says this approach works because not all algal blooms are created equally. "It’s not going to be one size fits all," Boyer said.

Cuomo Faces Challenges In 2018 And Beyond

Governor Cuomo has not officially announced a candidacy for a third term, but has told everyone he’s planning to run next year. But it’s hard to talk about Governor Cuomo’s potential race for reelection next year without discussing the Presidential race in 2020, and whether Cuomo will be a candidate. The governor for his first six years in office, kept a low national profile, but in 2017 he stepped up his appearances on national news shows, and took on President Trump on issues like climate change. He’s been very vocal in his opposition to the federal tax overhaul, calling it a “dagger in the heart” of the state, and saying it  penalizes blue, high tax states like New York. “They’re using New York as a piggy bank to pay for the tax cuts in other states,” Cuomo said on December 13th.

Cuomo Offers Limited Option To Shield Taxpayers From Effect Of Federal Law

Governor Cuomo, responding to the end to state and local tax deductions in the federal tax law, has issued an emergency order to allow New Yorkers who owe more than $10,000 in property taxes each year to pay them early to get around the new law. Under the emergency order signed by the governor, New Yorkers can pre pay their 2018 school and local property taxes, and get the benefit of deducting them from their federal taxes next year, before the new tax law takes effect. New rules will limit deductibility to $10,000 or less, so those who owe more than that amount can pre pay the difference and still benefit from the old laws. Cuomo and his budget director Robert Mujica say, for instance, if a taxpayer owes $15,000, then under the emergency order $5000 could be paid before the end of this year. Cuomo admits that not every school and local government may be able to comply in the short time frame.

PA Officials: Budget Constraints Limit Care For Mentally Ill Inmates

KEYSTONE CROSSWORDS - Following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation in 2014, the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, demanding changes to provide better care for mentally ill inmates. DOC settled in 2015, and three years later, the state says it no longer uses solitary confinement as prevalently. “We no longer utilize the same level of segregation that we did prior to the reports and the investigations,” said Lynn Patrone, DOC’s mental health advocate. She said the department is working to meet the requirement that the settlement put forward to divert inmates into treatment instead of solitary confinement. Patrone said even when the misconduct of inmates with mental illness results in solitary confinement, they are offered 20 hours of out-of-cell activities per week.

Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Lawsuit Over Royalty Payments Advances

A lawsuit is moving forward by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office alleging natural gas companies didn’t pay royalties to landowners as they’d promised. Bradford County Common Pleas Court Judge Kenneth Brown denied the preliminary objections raised by the defendants, Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko Petroleum. The lawsuit, filed in 2015, accuses the companies of violating the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, by promising landowners royalty money they never paid. You can read the full story here.

Calls For Change Mount After Harassment Allegations Against Pennsylvania Lawmakers

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- On the heels of recent Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stories on alleged sexual harassment by state lawmakers, a number of officials are calling for a change. The latest story concerns 40-year veteran lawmaker Thomas Caltagirone, a Berks County Democrat. The House Democratic caucus paid a quarter million taxpayer dollars to settle a harassment complaint a staffer made against him. A non-disclosure agreement kept the whole thing under wraps. A few weeks before that was reported, fellow House Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky, of Delaware County, said a different news story made her realize the settlements were happening and being kept secret.