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NY Assembly passes hydrofracking moratorium

Marie Cusick
Speaker Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney announced the moratorium's passage at the Capitol with environmental advocates.

Political news tops your morning roundup this Tuesday:

Assembly attempts to delay fracking

The state Assembly passed legislation for the second time yesterday that would extend New York’s moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

New York’s current moratorium from the Governor’s office was expected to expire on July 1, 2011.

But DEC officials say fracking is still likely a year away, because they’re still preparing rules to regulate it.

The bill that passed the Assembly yesterday extends the current moratorium until June 1, 2012, but a similar measure is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a sponsor of the bill, says he wants to err on the side of caution and protect public health.

“The legislature wants to be able to review the final report of DEC, and see where it goes and that it’s on sound footing,” he says.

Silver hasn’t spoken with the governor about the measure. Meanwhile, Cuomo has put pressure on the DEC to finalize its fracking regulations.

Last week, Cuomo issued a directive requiring the DEC to finish its report by July 1, 2011.

Property tax cap deal in trouble?

Joseph Spector of Politics on the Hudson reports that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County) told reporters on Monday that he’s opposed to putting an expiration date in the proposed property tax cap deal:

Skelos said he didn’t believe his opposition to a sunset clause would scuttle the ongoing negotiations, but his stance could prove to be an obstacle in getting a deal done before the June 20 end of the legislative session. Skelos suggested his concern about the sunset is that it could leave businesses and residents uncertain if the tax cap was set to expire.

Bad news for Buffalo mayor

A lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday accuses Buffalo mayor Byron Brown of corruption, reports Susan Schulman of the Buffalo News:

Mayor Byron W. Brown is the focus of a $1 million-plus lawsuit filed by a Cleveland developer who says Brown scuttled a housing project over the developer's refusal to give one of the mayor's supporters a job. In legal papers filed Monday in federal court, NRP Corp. accused the mayor and a Council member with corruption and racketeering in connection with an alleged pay-to-play conspiracy that required the developer to hire the Rev. Richard A. Stenhouse or a development group associated with Stenhouse.

In more legal news, the Associated Press reports that a ruling is expected this week from an Erie County judge regarding whether or not the Seneca Indian Nation will be required to tax sales on cigarettes to non-Indian customers. The tribe argues that the law violates its sovereignty.

Examining the perils of technology

As the recent Weinergate scandal reminds us, technology is not always our friend.

Albany lawmakers are already looking at legal ways to deal with teens who “sext,” according to Jacob Gershman of the Wall Street Journal:

The program, proposed by Assembly Democrats, is intended to give prosecutors and judges a more lenient option for dealing with teenagers accused of "sexting," using their cellphones, email or social-networking sites to distribute naked and sexually explicit pictures of themselves or classmates.

The Associated Press reports that hundreds of computer professionals from all over New York are in Albany this week to tackle even bigger technological threats, for the 14th annual NYS Cyber Security Conference.

WMHT/Capital Region reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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