While Governor Cuomo was in Dunkirk last December to announce an agreement... final approval on NRG's Repowering project in Dunkirk didn't come until yesterday. The state Public Service Commission approved the repowering project during it's meeting in Albany. Two votes were held... one regarding the State Environmental Quality Review Act... and, issuing a negative declaration. The other was approval of a contract with National Grid on the proposed allocation... and, the recovery of the cost for the refueling project. PSC Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman says there were a lot of positives for the project. Commission member Gregg Sayre attended a hearing on the proposal that was held last summer at the SUNY College at Fredonia. Sayre says he was "moved and impressed" by the nearly 25-hundred people that turned out... and, the outpouring of support for NRG. The two votes that were taken yesterday by the PSC were unanimous.
In reaction... State Senator Cathy Young and, Congressman Tom Reed are cheering the PSC's approval of the NRG project. Young is hailed for leading the RePower Western New York effort to save the plant from being mothballed. She moved to get several bills passed in the Senate to advance repowering, and in the 2012-13 state budget. Young also successfully inserted language that required the PSC to consider the economic, jobs, environmental and tax base impact of repowering. She says -- "this outcome is fantastic, one that many said would never happen. It shows that if a goal is worth achieving, it is worth fighting for." Reed says the PSC's decision -- "is the right decision for protecting jobs, lowering utility rates for taxpayers and caring for the well-being of the entire community."
The state Senate has been busy as the final week of the 2014 regular session gets underway. Local Senator Cathy Young says she's been working on a number of initiatives... mainly regarding health care... and, policy matters. The Olean Republican says a lot was acutally accomplished in the final, 2014-2015 budget. Now... she says there are a lot of matters of regional importance she's working to get completed before the end of next week.
One of the major issues that hasn't emerged from committee in the Senate is approving a limited use of Medical Marijuana. The measure has been amended three times already... and, remains in committee. Young would only say she has compassion for those -- especially children -- who need it for extreme pain, and debilitating illnesses. However... she says they're "not there yet" because there are still people on the Democrat side who want to fully legalize marijuana. And... Young says she's not in favor of that. She says negotations are continuing in an effort to move a bill out of committee before the end of the session.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is renewing his push to increase the minimum wage and pass the Dream Act as lawmakers work toward adjournment. Silver says that those two measures are top priorities before the Legislature adjourns next week. The minimum wage proposal would raise the wage to 10-dollars-10 cents per hour... and, allow cities like New York City to impose a local minimum wage that's up to 30 percent higher. The Dream Act would extend financial aid to students who are in the country illegally.
The state Senate has approved a measure that would toughen penalties for multiple driving while intoxicated convictions. Under the measure... a person convicted of three or more DWIs within 15 years would be charged with a Class D felony... punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to a 10-thousand dollar fine. The bill passed Wednesday is named for 82 year-old Vincent Russo of Onondaga County, who was killed in 2011 by someone who had five prior DWI-related convictions.
A Cattaraugus County man has been been arrested for allegedly being in possession of a full case of untaxed cigarettes as he was driving through the town of North Harmony. Chautauqua County Sheriff's officers say 23 year-old Michael Miller of Salamanca was stopped for speeding on Interstate 86 last Wednesday morning. Deputies say they found the case of the Seneca-brand cigarettes was observed sitting on the passenger’s side seat of Miller's vehicle. Officers say their investigation found that he was illegally transporting the cigarettes with no New York State Tax Stamps, or any paperwork. At the recommendation of the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency... Miller was arrested for criminal sale of untaxed cigarettes... and, criminal tax fraud. He was released pending a future court appearance.
There's only one kind of gun permit you can get in New York state... as opposed to the two available in nearby Pennsylvania. However... there are more hoops to jump through in New York to get one. That from Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace... who adds the disclaimer that he doesn't write state laws... which have become very controversial with the SAFE Act. Gerace feels there should be an "open permitting" of pistols with Pennsylvania because we're border areas. He calls New York's process "very difficult..." but, they expedite it as quickly as possible. With the Jamestown and Warren-areas so close in proxmity... there's a lot of interest among gun owners -- and would-be owners -- in differences in the gun-laws in the two states. Media One's Ron Smith talked with Sheriff Gerace in Part-Two of his interviews on what's required in New York and Pennsylvania. Last week... he spoke with Warren County Sheriff Ken Klacamp about what's required in Pennsylvania.