Rep. Tom Reed Says He Supports Net Neutrality. Some Constituents Want Action.

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Some constituents are urging Congressman Tom Reed to take action to support net neutrality. Reed represents New York’s 23rd congressional district, which stretches from Ithaca to Jamestown. Seven people met with a member of his staff in Ithaca on Tuesday morning. Back in December, the Federal Communications Commission repealed 2015 net neutrality rules that required internet providers to allow equal access to all web content. Congressman Reed supported the repeal.

Thank you! Drive went over goal

The Fall Membership Campaign is history! Thank you so much to everyone who donated. Together, we raised over $155,000, and will send more than 10,000 meals to neighbors in need through the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. The lucky winners of the Hamilton tickets were Sondra and David Pruden of Endwell. Congratulations!

PA Dairy Farmers Face Same Problems, Only Congressional Districts Have Changed

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – The boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts changed this year after protracted court hearings. The issues facing citizens didn’t change, including for dairy farmers. In the new 12th District, Democrat Marc Friedenberg is running against Republican incumbent Tom Marino. Friedenberg is a first-time candidate. The district includes Bradford, Susquehanna and Tioga counties.

A May 2016 photo provided by the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign shows the candidate during a Bengali community outreach in New York.

Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

In a stunning upset, the 28-year-old socialist whose mother was born in Puerto Rico unseated Democratic stalwart Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s diverse 14th Congressional District.

Dorothy Cotton, pictured at a press conference at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., was the educational director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the civil rights era. She has died at 88.

Civil Rights Leader Dorothy Cotton Dies In Ithaca At 88

Cotton was the education director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, former director of student activities at Cornell, and worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. She focused on empowering ordinary people to exercise their rights.

Algal Bloom Battle Gets Funding In New State Budget

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – New York’s new budget sets aside money to combat harmful algal blooms that have closed some of the state’s lakes and threatened the municipalities that use them for drinking water. The funding would be a welcome relief for several communities in central New York that have been battling the blooms for years.

Cynthia Nixon Wins Working Families Party Endorsement

ALBANY, NY (WSKG) – TV’s Sex and the City star and education advocate Cynthia Nixon won the endorsement of the Working Families Party at a meeting in Albany Saturday. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running in a Democratic primary against Nixon, dropped out of contention for the party’s nomination Friday night, after delegates were leaning toward Nixon. “I am so proud to accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party,” Nixon told the enthusiastic crowd of progressive and activist groups. She said that New York would be different if she were in charge, she promised to end cash bail, make New York a sanctuary state for immigrants, and phase out fossil fuels. “When I am governor I will push this state ambitiously, aggressively toward a 100 percent renewal energy economy,” said Nixon, who said thousands of green jobs could be created, including in communities hard hit by “corporate polluters”.

Finger Lakes Lawmakers Introduce Law to Stop Romulus Incinerator

Opposition is growing against a proposed trash incinerator in the town of Romulus. In recent months several Finger Lakes municipalities have voted resolutions opposing the proposed incinerator in the town of Romulus. Article Ten allows for state review for proposals like this. Now, lawmakers have proposed a law eliminating trash or waste incinerators from the Article Ten process. When the project faces strong local opposition the company withdrew it’s application for local permitting. They said they would bypass local permission and seek a permit from the state under Article Ten instead.

ACA Shooting Nine Years Ago Today

“It’s one of the challenges of the human spirit – developing a positive outlook in the face of the fact that we’re all going to die and birth is a fatal disease,” said David Marsland, whose wife was killed in the attack. “It’s a question of how you live as opposed to how you die.

Students Reflect On Wednesday’s Walkout, What’s Next

“We need to honor the victims of school shootings with change. We need to honor them with policy,” said Lena Kennell, sophomore at Newfield High School. “We can make a difference even if we can’t vote.”

Upstate Students Walk Out Of Classrooms To Protest Gun Violence

Hundreds of Ithaca High School students walked out of school at 10:00am to raise awareness about the effects of gun violence. They invited parents, teachers and community members to join them for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of the Parkland, Florida shooting one month ago.

Southern Tier AIDS Program Wants To Operate Ithaca’s Proposed Safe Injection Site

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – STAP said they would be a good fit to run Ithaca’s proposed supervised injection site because they already have the staff and resources in place. The group runs three syringe exchange programs in Ithaca, Johnson City and Norwich. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, who proposed the injection facility in 2016, said approval for it would need to come from the state.

Anti-Semitic Incidents Rose In PA Last Year, Report Shows

Anti-Semitic incidents have risen significantly in the commonwealth for the second straight year. A report from the Anti-Defamation League shows they rose in four of the last five years after declining between 2008 and 2012. The ADL’s Nancy Baron-Baer says it’s a troubling trend. 

Child Sexual Abuse Survivors Turn Up Heat On State Senators

ALBANY, NY (WSKG) – Advocates who want the Child Victims Act passed in New York are stepping up pressure on Republicans in the state Senate. Some GOP senators are the final holdouts on the bill that would extend the statute of limitations and open up a one-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits.

“The Hustle: Poverty In Motion”

People who are poor move a lot – between homes, to get groceries and healthcare. It can be difficult to achieve upward mobility, leaving people feeling like they’re running in place. Click here to check out the stories.

Flu Cases Continue To Grow Around The Region

SYRACUSE (WRVO) – The number of people testing positive for the flu this winter has been rising rapidly in New York State and central New York. According to the state health department, more than 11,000 thousand cases of the flu were confirmed in the state during the week ending January 27, a 50 percent increase from the week before. 

Amid Shutdown, Cuomo Commits $65K Per Day To Keep Open Statue Of Liberty, Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will stay open amidst the government shutdown. They’re part of the National Park Service. Governor Cuomo reached a deal with the Interior Department to have the state pay $65,000 a day to keep them open. Cuomo says New York State will keep paying to operate the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as long as Congress is at an impasse. He says the closure of the statue is a metaphor for what he says President Trump and Congress are doing through their policies on immigration.

Ithaca Photography Project Produces Over 1,200 Portraits

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The community portrait project, We Are Ithaca, held its final photo session Thursday. The project was created by two local photographers in collaboration with the Community Arts Partnership. One of them is Robyn Wishna. The project began last fall, she says, to offer the community something positive in a year that had so much negativity. “We came up with this project to celebrate the community through portraits.

A Few IBMers Learn The Latest Details In Clean Up Of Endicott’s Toxic Plume

The front row of folding chairs was empty. Eight people showed up to the meeting in the hall at the First United Methodist Church on McKinley Avenue, just a block away from the Huron Campus. It’s a tragic story: IBM employed the town, cut their jobs, then left Endicott contaminated. These folks have been through a lot – they have friends and relatives with cancer. One guy is working on a film about the contamination.

Romulus Residents Oppose Largest Trash Incinerator Planned For Their Town

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A new company from Rochester wants to build the largest trash incinerator in the state in the small town of Romulus in the Finger Lakes. Many in the area don’t like the idea. About 4,300 people live in the town of Romulus between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. People packed the Town Planning Board meeting Monday night to hear from Circular enerG, which wants to build the 200,000 square foot incinerator at the former Seneca Army Depot. Some, like Michael Davis, support the project.  He’s the president of Finger Lakes Building Trades and the Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 840. 

Davis and several of his fellow union members sat up front.

If Expanded, Farm-To-School Plan Would Offer Students Healthy Meals, Farmers A Diverse Market

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As part of his 2018 State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to double the funding for a program that connects schools with local farmers, Farm-to-School. The state currently spends $750,000 on the program, and Cuomo wants to increase that to $1.5 million. The money can go toward capital costs for transporting and storing food, supporting training, and to hiring farm-to-school coordinators. One incentive under the proposal: The state will reimburse districts a quarter per meal if they get 30 percent of the ingredients from New York farms. That’s compared to the six cents they get now. “It really helps [farmers] diversify their business.

New State Proposal Targets Toxic Algal Blooms On Cayuga Lake

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One of Governor Cuomo’s State of the State proposals would protect Cayuga Lake from toxic algal blooms.

Governor Cuomo’s proposal targets the 12 lakes that have the biggest algal bloom problems in the state. He said, “In the beautiful lakes of upstate New York we now have toxic algal that is spreading it is literally endangering the drinking water. No more procrastination, Let’s resolve these issues and let’s do it this year.” It’s a $65 million plan he wants begun in February, finished in May and enacted this summer.  After years of inaction, Greg Boyer, professor of biochemistry at SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, thinks the “aggressive timeline.”

Sex Trafficking Survivor Plans To Reach More Teens With Victims Assistance Center Expansion

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January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. On Friday, the Crime Victims Assistance Center (CVAC) expanded programming into an old school building in Endicott. CVAC works with Broome County and federal programs to counsel people who have survived sex trafficking, accompany them to court, and offer them tools to cope, among other things. “I think there’s a misconception,” said Raini Baudendistel, executive director of CVAC. “When you say ‘human trafficking,’ people think that it might be immigrants or refugees and people are being shoved in a van and driven across state lines, and that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Tompkins County Fights State Requirement That Homeless Pay For Shelter

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New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance requires counties to collect fees from homeless people staying in shelters. Some counties are pushing back. The regulation was first enacted in the mid 1990s but in 2015 it was updated. Under the existing regulation, a person who is homeless could be required to pay up to $70.54 per night depending on a state formula based on all of their income, earned and unearned. Tompkins County has not been collecting the fees.

Cuomo, In State of State Address, Warns Of Challenges From Washington DC

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ALBANY (WSKG) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his eighth State of the State speech, told lawmakers that 2018 will be the “most challenging” year, and he said they will have to fight against what he said are “threats” from the federal government. He also announced steps to combat sexual harassment and reform the state’s criminal justice system. Cuomo told lawmakers, the state’s top judges and hundreds of others assembled inside the state convention center that 2017 “was a tough year by any measure.”

But he said “2018 may be the hardest year in modern political history.”

Cuomo said they will all have to work together to fix changes from the federal tax overhaul that no longer allows New Yorkers to deduct state and local taxes from their federal tax returns. Calling the tax overhaul an “economic civil war,” he said he’s studying how to revamp the state’s tax structure to convert the income tax into a payroll tax. And he generated applause when he vowed to file a lawsuit to overturn what he said is double taxation.

Cuomo Today Delivers Eighth State Of The State Address

ALBANY (WSKG) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address on Wednesday, kicking off a challenging year of budget deficits and re-election races. Cuomo begins his eighth year in office facing the largest budget deficit since 2011. New York is short $4.4 billion, and there’s uncertainty over federal policies, including the overhaul of the tax code, that could leave the state with even a bigger budget hole in the future. The governor fought unsuccessfully to reverse the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes, which harms some middle-class and wealthy taxpayers in the state. Cuomo, speaking on CNN over the holidays, said he’ll announce in his State of the State a plan to re-engineer the state’s tax code to try to mitigate the effects.

2018 Brings Higher Minimum Wage, Paid Family Leave To New York

SYRACUSE (WRVO) – New state laws are taking effect this month, including an increase in the minimum wage to $10.40 an hour in upstate. That’s a $0.70 increase from the end of 2017, and the wage will continue rising to $12.50 an hour by the end of 2020. In addition, New York’s new paid family leave program is now in effect. The program will allow workers to get paid a portion of their earnings while they take time off to tend to a new child or sick relative. Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero) says the program will keep people in work, which helps all New Yorkers.

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.

New York Democrats Pin Hopes On Taking Control Of The State Senate In 2018

ALBANY (WSKG) – 2018 might finally be the year that Democrats regain control of the state Senate. But they face a number of obstacles, and Republicans aren’t ready to give up any time soon. Two feuding factions of Democrats in the Senate have agreed to reunite later next year and perhaps rule the chamber, but it can happen only if a number of events occur first. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, under pressure from left-leaning Democrats to be a peace broker, last month called on the eight breakaway members of the Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin with the rest of the Democrats. “I urge both sides to stop their intramural disputes and unify,” Cuomo said on Nov.

Retribution Planned For New York Congress Members Who Voted For The Tax Bill

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ALBANY (WSKG) Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s vowed to lead a campaign against the state’s Republican Congressional representatives in the 2018 elections, has spent the final weeks of 2017 feuding with them over their votes on the federal tax overhaul bill. Cuomo has been saying for weeks that the overhaul would be “devastating” to New York’s finances and to many of its taxpayers, and he’s called Republican House members who support the plan “traitors” and “Benedict Arnolds.” 

The governor is particularly incensed over the loss of the deduction for state and local taxes, which harms people in relatively high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California. In the hours leading up to the House vote, Cuomo stepped up his rhetoric. In response to a reporter’s question, he said Democrats, including New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, would be “justified” if they threatened to shut down the government when the temporary spending measure runs out at the end of the week, if the tax bill passes.

New York State’s Budget Outlook Is Grim For 2018

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ALBANY (WSKG) – With a projected multibillion-dollar deficit and looming federal changes that could cost the state billions more, the biggest obstacle in the upcoming 2018 legislative session will be balancing the state budget. The second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, John DeFrancisco, said the budget will be “horrible” and the worst in at least seven years. “I think it’s going to be very, very difficult,” DeFrancisco said. “Probably the most difficult budget year the governor has had since he’s been governor.” 

The state’s comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, a Democrat, agreed. He said the projected $4.4 billion deficit and lower-than-expected tax collections are only the beginning of the trouble.

Unpaid Internships Put Many College Students In A Tough Spot

SYRACUSE (WRVO) – Many college students will tell you one of the best ways to secure a good job after graduating is to find an internship. That’s an easy enough task, but finding one that’s paid can be a little more challenging. Abbey Buttacavoli is a junior at SUNY Oswego. She couldn’t pursue an internship with a company she wanted to work for because it didn’t provide pay. “It just wouldn’t have worked,” Buttacavoli said. “And I wish it could have, because it is a really good opportunity, but not having that financial support or stability is not an option.”

But some students are willing to live with a little financial instability in exchange for experience, even if it means they’ll be heading into the workforce with an empty bank account.

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Assembly GOP Leader Says He’ll Run For New York Governor

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ALBANY (WSKG) – There’s now one official candidate running for governor of New York in 2018, and that’s the Assembly’s Republican leader Brian Kolb. He announced in a video released Tuesday. Kolb, who’s been an Assembly member since 2000, is also a businessman. He’s the founder and past President of two companies in the Rochester area, where he grew up.  Kolb says he’d draw on the experiences of both worlds if he were to lead the state. He says he’s been traveling and meeting with New Yorkers, and asking them whether or not state government is working for them.

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Lawsuit Challenging PA’s Congressional Map Begins In State Court

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS  — Testimony in a fast-tracked lawsuit alleging gerrymandering got underway in Pa. Commonwealth Court Monday. The case could force a new state congressional map before the 2018 midterm election. Eighteen registered Democrats — one from each congressional district — claim Pennsylvania’s map was drawn unfairly by state GOP leaders to advantage Republicans.  Congressional maps have to follow certain rules, such as distributing equal numbers of voters between districts. Advocates for fairer congressional maps say it’s also a best practice to avoid dividing counties and municipalities when drawing district boundary lines.

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New York’s Fracking Ban Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a bold statement by banning hydraulic fracturing in the Empire State, declaring alongside his health commissioner that “no child should live near” a shale-gas well because of its potential harm. 

The governor’s proclamation made him a hero among environmentalists and persona non grata in the oil and gas industry. Energy in Depth, an industry-funded website, criticized Cuomo for basing the moratorium on dubious science “to kowtow to Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo, and all of the environmental pressure groups in New York.”

In truth, though, the picture is murkier, and Cuomo’s ban is less than absolute. Moratorium notwithstanding, New York is still reaping the rewards of fracking, importing shale gas from neighboring Pennsylvania and preparing to process it in a mammoth power plant under construction 65 miles northwest of New York City. Read full story here. 

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New York State Budget Won’t Be Easy In 2018

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ALBANY (WSKG) – One of the biggest challenges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will face in 2018 is balancing the state’s budget, which already has a structural deficit of more than $4 billion. On top of that, federal changes to taxes and health care could cost the state billions more in lost funding.  State tax revenues are down, contributing to the largest structural budget gap in seven years. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli estimates the deficit to be about $4.4 billion. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Liz Krueger, said that news alone would be bad enough.  “That disturbs me, but that’s not what keeps me up at night,” Krueger said in an interview with public radio and television. “What Washington might do to us is what keeps me up at night.” Krueger said the tax overhaul plan now being negotiated by the Republican-led House and Senate is an “endless list” of policy changes that will cost New York, including the ripple effect of ending deductions for state and local taxes.  “The loss of money to taxpayers in New York state through federal actions, will absolutely have enormous ramifications,” said Krueger, who predicted it will result in a loss of “billions and billions” of revenue for the state to fund key programs.  Cuomo, who calls the federal tax proposal “devastating” for New York, said some tough decisions will need to be made.  “The budget is not going to be an easy budget,” Cuomo said.

Abortion Restriction Bill Picks Up Traction In PA House

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A bill narrowing the window to get an abortion in Pennsylvania could be on a fast track to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk sometime soon. Under current law, abortions are permitted until 24 weeks of pregnancy. This would roll the limit back to 20, except in medical emergencies. The measure would also outlaw a procedure referred to as “dismemberment abortion,” which is not a medically recognized term. It already passed the House last session, and made it through the Senate earlier this year.

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Broome Legislature Pressured To Approve Funding For Addiction Treatment Center

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Broome County is taking public comment on a possible addiction treatment center Tuesday night. This comes as Broome County Executive Jason Garnar is pressuring the legislature to approve $2.7 million funding for the facility. That funding comes from the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and would bring addiction treatment services at the site of the former Broome Developmental Center. County Executive Jason Garnar is holding Tuesday’s hearing in the wake of an announcement last week that the Broome legislature wouldn’t vote to approve the funding until at least the new year.  Republican Chairman Dan Reynolds said that’s because he doesn’t believe the legislature has all the information. For example, Reynolds wants a detailed report of how the public funds will be used, according to WBNG. A call to Chairman Reynolds was not returned.

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Arrests At PA Capitol Rally For Redistricting, Gift Reform

HARRISBURG (WSKG) – Several activists were arrested Monday while blocking a hallway during a rally at the state Capitol.  Many had just finished a three-day walk from Lancaster to Harrisburg–the second one they’ve done this year. The group’s goal is to call attention to stalled bills that would ban gifts to lawmakers and seek to make the redistricting process less partisan. The walk to the Capitol was 36 miles, and temperatures fell below freezing at times. But when the March on Harrisburg group reached the Capitol, their energy was high Several members dressed in the red stripes of children’s book character Where’s Waldo–a dig at House members, who had canceled their regular session day for an informal nonvoting session. Rachel Brewer, of national anti-corruption group Represent.US, called out Republican House State Government Committee Chair Daryl Metcalfe in particular.