PA Supreme Court Weighs Fast-Tracking Gerrymander Case

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - After hearing oral arguments Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to rule quickly on a lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional district boundaries. Eighteen registered Democrats — one for each of the state’s districts — claim the congressional map violates multiple parts of the state constitution, including its free expression clause, because it discriminates against them for their political viewpoint. The case names Republican legislative leaders as defendants because the GOP controlled the General Assembly, and thus redistricting, the last two times it happened. The plaintiffs, who are seeking a new map in time for the 2018 midterms, successfully sought an expedited review by the majority-Democrat Pa. Supreme Court.

Cuomo Tax Restructure Plan Offers Options

ALBANY (WSKG) - A report by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax department lists ways that New Yorkers could get around the loss of some of their state and local tax deductions under the new law. But all of them come with complications. When the federal tax overhaul law was signed by President Donald Trump in December, Americans lost their ability to deduct much of their state and local taxes from their federal tax forms. As Cuomo has said repeatedly, the loss of what are known as the SALT deductions harms taxpayers the most in relatively high-tax states like New York. Cuomo said in his budget presentation on Tuesday that it’s “complicated” to change New York’s tax code to try to make up for the loss, but it has to be explored. “Washington hit a button and launched an economic missile, and it said ‘New York’ on it, and it's heading our way,” Cuomo said.

PA Fines Natural Gas Company $1.7M For Drilling Violations

State environmental officials have fined a natural gas company $1.7 million for problems at well sites in Greene and Clearfield counties. Energy Corporation of America was cited for, among other things, operating storage pits without proper permits and for pits that leaked. The violations took place at 17 well sites, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The wells were recently acquired by Greylock Energy. Read full story here.

SCOTUS To Consider Case That Could Increase State Sales Tax Revenue

WASHINGTON DC (WSKG) -- The US Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed. It's an issue that might sound a little familiar to Pennsylvanians--lawmakers tried to improve online sales tax collections in last year's budget, as the state struggled to find enough revenue balance its books. The case is likely to come before the high court in April. Justices will decide whether to uphold a South Dakota decision maintaining a long-held standard: if a seller doesn't have a physical location in a state, they don't have to charge sales taxes there. It's an issue that may have lost state and local governments around $13 billion last year, according to the Congressional Government Accountability Office.

New York Lawmakers React To Cuomo’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb:

“The governor continued his familiar theme of blaming Washington D.C. for problems that have been evident in New York for years. Oppressive taxes, a high cost of living, and financial pressures that drive residents away are not new issues. Unfortunately, today’s Executive Budget presentation was long on finger-pointing, yet short on financial details. Despite the fiscal peril the governor insists we face, today’s presentation failed to make a commitment to actually reduce spending. There was no plan to lower the costs Albany places on local governments.

State Senator Accused Of Sexual Harassment Expects To Be “Vindicated”

ALBANY (WSKG) - State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, spoke publicly for the first time since an investigation has begun into allegations that he sexually harassed a female staffer. Klein, who has denied that he forcibly kissed a former female staffer in 2015, says an investigation has begun by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE. The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate says he’ll fully cooperate. “I expect to be vindicated,” Klein said. Klein spoke after Governor Cuomo’s budget presentation, where Cuomo proposed giving more money to JCOPE to set up a unit to investigate charges of sexual harassment and issue conclusions  quickly.