81st Annual Vermont Farm Show opens. Vermont hearings on the assisted death bill. Vermont US Sen. Sanders will introduce a legislation to congress that will combat global warming. Freezing rain on tap for eastern Ontario.
NY authorities continue gun control forums upstate
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York law enforcement authorities are continuing their visits across upstate to explain the state's new, stricter gun control law.
Representatives of the state police and Division of Criminal Justice Services will be at forums this week to talk about the “NY SAFE Act” and answer questions about changes in the law governing ownership of assault-style semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. The new law adopted earlier this month after the Newtown school massacre and West Webster firefighter ambush also requires background checks for ammunition purchases.
There are sessions Tuesday in Clarence, Endwell, Lake Placid, Rochester and Ithaca. On Wednesday, there will be forums in Oswego, Lafayette and Schenectady.
Tuesday, 1 p.m. a hearing will be held in Lake Placid at the Olympic Regional Development Authority Excelsior Room, Conference Center at Lake Placid, 2643 Main St., Lake Placid.
The state has also set up a website with answers to frequently-asked questions and other information.
Congress passes $50.5B Superstorm Sandy aid bill
WASHINGTON (AP) Congress is sending a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure for Superstorm Sandy victims to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The Senate on Monday cleared the bill, 62-36. Northeast lawmakers say the money is desperately needed to help recovery efforts from the one of the region's worst storms. The House passed the bill two weeks ago.
The measure is aimed primarily at helping residents and businesses as well as state and local governments rebuild from the Oct. 29 storm. It passed despite opposition from fiscal conservatives worried about adding to deficits.
Sandy roared up the East Coast and has been blamed for more than 130 deaths and billions of dollars in residential and business property damage.
Bloomberg blast teacher evaluations as "sham," "fraud"
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has blasted new teacher evaluations as shams and a fraud, created to extract school aid — not improve teachers.
Bloomberg told lawmakers at a state budget hearing today they were irresponsible to pass the 2010 law tying school aid to union approval of local teacher evaluations. He said unions have no incentive to approve effective evaluations, and added that denying aid only hurts students.
State Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco of Onondaga County responded that Bloomberg's “fraud” assessment was overstated when 99 percent of the state's other school districts found a way to comply with the new law.
After his testimony today, Bloomberg wouldn't say whether he has any indication he can recover the expected $250 million in lost state aid.
Albany FBI gets new top agent; also serves VT
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) The FBI has named a new agent in charge of its Albany Division responsible for investigations in northern New York and Vermont.
Andrew Vale, most recently special assistant to the deputy director at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., follows Clifford Holly in the Albany post.
Vale, a former immigration inspector and detention officer in Buffalo, joined the bureau in 1991 and began by investigating terrorism and civil rights cases in Newark, N.J.
He transferred to Washington in 2001 with the Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit, where he became unit chief of the director's research group.
Vale transferred to Albany in 2006 as assistant special agent in charge of its National Security Branch, with oversight of counterterrorism, counterintelligence and intelligence programs.
NY officials set special hunt for snow geese
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York environmental regulators are expanding the snow goose hunting season to help reduce an overpopulation of snow geese in eastern North America.
The Department of Environmental Conservation announced Monday that a special harvest season is in effect from now through April 15.
The regular snow goose hunting season runs from Oct. 1 through Jan. 15. A special season was established in 2008 in response to environmental damage caused by an overpopulation of snow geese. The special season has previously started on March 11, but officials are opening it now to allow hunters to shoot geese in late winter and early spring when they're most abundant.
The arctic-breeding species has expanded from about 50,000 birds in the 1960s to more than a million in recent years.
81st annual Vermont Farm Show opens
ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) The 81st annual Vermont Farm Show is opening at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction.
Visitors will get to wander among 150 agricultural exhibits from tractors to livestock to equipment. They can also view the winning jams, pickles, Christmas trees and handspun fibers entered in various competitions.
This year also includes a Buy Local Market, with foods and products from Vermont farms. And on Wednesday night, teams from the Vermont House of Representatives, Senate, and Agency of Agriculture will compete in the “Capital Cook-off” in which they will have 90 minutes to create a dish using Vermont products.
The Vermont Farm Show runs from Tuesday through Thursday. Parking and admission are free.
Vermont hearings begin on assisted death bill
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Witnesses ranging from former Gov. Madeleine Kunin to Vermont's current health commissioner, Dr. Harry Chen, are scheduled to testify to a state Senate committee about legislation that would allow physicians to help terminally ill patients end their own lives.
Four days of testimony in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee will be punctuated Tuesday evening with a joint public hearing before that panel and the Judiciary Committee on the issue. The session is set for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday in the main House chamber of the Statehouse.
Health and Welfare Committee Chairwoman Sen. Claire Ayer says she hopes her panel will vote favorably on the bill by Friday.
It would then go to the Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Richard Sears has said he opposes it but won't try to block it.
Vermont US Sen. Sanders to unveil energy legislation
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) Vermont's independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he's going to introduce legislation in Congress to combat global warming by imposing a tax on carbon that will include “massive investments” in renewable energy.
Sanders mentioned the proposal Monday during a Burlington news conference where he urged the Vermont Legislature not to impose a three-year moratorium on industrial wind projects.
The bill will be “putting a price on those entities” that Sanders says are emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases.
He says targeting several thousand of the worst greenhouse gas emitters in the country can lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions.
He said he would provide more information about the bill in the near future.
Freezing rain on tap for Eastern Ontario
There's a freezing rain warning in effect for this morning for eastern Ontario, including Belleville, Kingston, Peterborough, Brockville, Ottawa and Cornwall.
Environment Canada says an approaching low pressure system from Colorado will bring in another surge of moisture. Forecasters say this will set the stage for an area of freezing rain to redevelop over eastern Ontario.
The freezing rain will reach the Ottawa Valley by late this afternoon and will last several hours in most areas. (The Canadian Press)