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NY legislators take on last-minute measures

Marie Cusick
The end of the legislative session is upon us.

Politics tops your Thursday morning news roundup.

Although the legislative session was officially supposed to end on Monday, lawmakers are still at work in Albany. The same-sex marriage debate has captured national attention, but a number of other measures could have a big impact on New Yorkers’ pocketbooks.

Lawamkers appear poised to take up the so-called “rational” tuition hikes for SUNY schools, which would establish $300 annual increases for the next five years, reports Winnie Hu for The New York Times.

Late last night legislators passed a new siting law for NY power plants, which establishes a panel to oversee the facilities. Joseph Spector reports for Gannett:

In a rare accord, environmentalists and business groups hailed the new power-plant siting law. The legislation is also tied to a new provision in the state's Green Jobs program that would allow homeowners to finance energy improvements to their homes through their local utility bill.

Not-so-good news for nonprofits

Over a quarter million nonprofits nationwide, including 19,000 across New York State could face losing their tax-exempt status. Jerry Zremski reports for The Buffalo News that the organizations failed to notice tax law changes, which took effect four years ago:

Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced the snafu Wednesday. He urged all local nonprofits to check to see if they, too, have fallen victim to a 2007 law that required them to file annual forms with the IRS or else potentially be subject to taxation. “Little leagues, public libraries, museums, meal programs, and other nonprofit organizations that are the very fabric of communities throughout upstate New York are at risk of ... paying thousands of dollars in penalties through no fault of their own,” Schumer said.

Things are looking up, however, for Paychex Inc., which saw a four percent increase in its 2011 revenue. Matthew Daneman reports for The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, that this could signal good news for the private sector:

Paychex Inc. and its competitors in the payroll and human resources field are often looked to as canaries in the economy's coal mine. And according to these companies' most recent numbers, the nation's private sector is recovering from the recession, though maybe not robustly.

Tech giants in court

The Associated Press is reporting that a ruling is expected today in a patent fight over whether iPhones and Blackberrys are unlawfully using Kodak-owned technology:

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington is expected to issue a ruling today on Kodak's complaint that its 2001 image-preview patent was infringed by iPhone behemoth Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., and RIM of Canada, maker of the BlackBerry. Kodak filed suit in January 2010 and is now trying to negotiate a licensing deal that CEO Antonio Perez estimates could be worth up to $1 billion.

But your brain might be better off if you ditch your high-tech devices for a while, according to this article from CNN:

Over time, and with enough Internet usage, the structure of our brains can actually physically change, according to a new study. Researchers in China did MRIs on the brains of 18 college students who spent about 10 hours a day online. Compared with a control group who spent less than two hours a day online, these students had less gray matter, the thinking part of the brain. The study was published in the June issue of PLoS ONE, an online journal.

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