As Vote On Health Care Bill Nears, Find Out Where NY, PA Congress Members Stand

WASHINGTON, DC (NPR) - With a vote scheduled for Thursday in the U.S. House, it's down to the wire for the American Health Care Act, the Republican-authored bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

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A February deadline on New York’s process to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing will be missed, with Governor Cuomo’s Health Commissioner now saying he needs more time to complete an ongoing health study.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah said he wants to study potential health impacts from hydrofracking further, and will review some new comprehensive studies on  health and fracking that have been released over the past few weeks.

High volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been hailed as the long-sought answer to our global energy dilemma, and an environmental catastrophe in the making. New York state is now in the final steps of evaluating the safety of this unconventional practice to extract gas from shale formations extending under large sections of the state, and the outcome of this review is expected to play out within weeks or even days.

Dueling pro and anti fracking filmmakers held screenings and promotions for their films, as they await a decision by Governor Cuomo on whether fracking will go forward in New York. That could come by the end of the month. At one point in the day, the two sides confronted each other in the halls of the Capitol.

Phelim McAleer is the creator of Fracknation, a film that claims to rebut charges made by environmentalists and the popular anti fracking movie “Gasland”. He came to Albany to hold a screening of his film.

Governor Cuomo’s Court of Appeals nominee was approved in the State Senate on a voice vote, after an unusually contentious process.

Cuomo’s nominee Jenny Rivera had already faced extensive grilling from Senate Republicans, who are in a coalition government with several break away Democrats. Then, during the vote on the Senate floor, some GOP Senators rose to say that she was not the best candidate.

Every year, New York State gives out millions in tax incentives, loans and economic development grants to the private sector. Every state does it, and New York has little choice if it wants to prevent companies from leaving. But additional attention is now being paid to the incentives going to the gun industry in New York.

New York’s newest Senator, Cecilia Tkaczyk, has been on the job for just over a week now, after a two and half month long court battle over absentee ballots resulted in her narrrow eighteen-vote win. Tkaczyk, a sheep farmer, school board member and former legislative housing analyst, is a Democrat who won the newly drawn Senate seat in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys that was designed for a Republican.

Senator Tkaczyk says she remained confident during the lengthy legal machinations.

Two weeks after passing new gun control measures, New York officials have begun holding public forums to discuss what’s in the law. At Tuesday's forum in Endwell, Broome County, about 100 attendees came out to raise their questions and vent their frustrations over the new law.

State Police Deputy Superintendent Kevin Gagan led the forum and explained how each of the measures will work.

“When it comes to these assault weapons, if you owned one before the law took effect, you can keep it. You just have to register it,” said Gagan.

Moody's credit rating agency downgraded Binghamton's long-term debt from a rating of A1 to A2. They also gave a less-than-perfect rating to new, short-term debt the city plans to issue.

A downgraded credit rating can make it make it more expensive for a municipality to borrow money.

According to Moody's, the decision was made because the city's financial performance over the past two years cannot be verified. Binghamton officials have not submitted a financial statement since 2010.

Two weeks after passing new gun control measures, New York officials are holding public forums to discuss what's in the law.

State Police Deputy Superintendent Kevin Gagan was in Broome County on Tuesday, explaining how the law works.

"When it comes to these assault weapons, if you owned one before the law took effect, you can keep it. You just have to register it."

Assault weapon registration starts in April and lasts a year. Gagan, along with James Sherman from the State Police, tried to keep the forum on the topic of what's in the law.

Governor Cuomo’s pension stabilization plan could face some obstacles in the legislature. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he wants to know what the State Comptroller thinks of the idea first.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he’s not ready to sign on yet to Governor Cuomo’s plan to allow local governments and schools to “smooth” out pension payments over time, that would allow them to pay less now and more for them later.

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