PA Fines Natural Gas Company $1.7M For Drilling Violations

State environmental officials have fined a natural gas company $1.7 million for problems at well sites in Greene and Clearfield counties. Energy Corporation of America was cited for, among other things, operating storage pits without proper permits and for pits that leaked. The violations took place at 17 well sites, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The wells were recently acquired by Greylock Energy. Read full story here.

SCOTUS To Consider Case That Could Increase State Sales Tax Revenue

WASHINGTON DC (WSKG) -- The US Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed. It's an issue that might sound a little familiar to Pennsylvanians--lawmakers tried to improve online sales tax collections in last year's budget, as the state struggled to find enough revenue balance its books. The case is likely to come before the high court in April. Justices will decide whether to uphold a South Dakota decision maintaining a long-held standard: if a seller doesn't have a physical location in a state, they don't have to charge sales taxes there. It's an issue that may have lost state and local governments around $13 billion last year, according to the Congressional Government Accountability Office.

New York Lawmakers React To Cuomo’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb:

“The governor continued his familiar theme of blaming Washington D.C. for problems that have been evident in New York for years. Oppressive taxes, a high cost of living, and financial pressures that drive residents away are not new issues. Unfortunately, today’s Executive Budget presentation was long on finger-pointing, yet short on financial details. Despite the fiscal peril the governor insists we face, today’s presentation failed to make a commitment to actually reduce spending. There was no plan to lower the costs Albany places on local governments.

State Senator Accused Of Sexual Harassment Expects To Be “Vindicated”

ALBANY (WSKG) - State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, spoke publicly for the first time since an investigation has begun into allegations that he sexually harassed a female staffer. Klein, who has denied that he forcibly kissed a former female staffer in 2015, says an investigation has begun by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE. The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate says he’ll fully cooperate. “I expect to be vindicated,” Klein said. Klein spoke after Governor Cuomo’s budget presentation, where Cuomo proposed giving more money to JCOPE to set up a unit to investigate charges of sexual harassment and issue conclusions  quickly.

Cuomo Proposes New Taxes, Tax Restructuring In New Budget

ALBANY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $168 billion budget plan that would close an over $4 billion gap by reducing some spending and imposing tax increases on health insurers, big businesses and prescription opioid users, among others. Cuomo said he also wants to look into legalizing marijuana in New York. “This is going to be challenging, my friends,” Cuomo told lawmakers gathered at the state museum for the budget presentation. He said he’s holding the line on state agency spending, and he’s eyeing additional revenues by taxing health insurance plans and deferring corporate tax credits. He said both received big tax breaks in the federal tax overhaul, so can afford it.

Ithaca Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Focuses On His Poor People’s Campaign

People packed the gym of Beverly J. Martin Elementary School in downtown Ithaca to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They also were there to further his vision of a Poor People’s Campaign. 

It was a movement to “revolutionize” the country’s attitude toward the poor and rally them to advocate for better living conditions. After a buffet lunch and brief presentations, those attending the celebration divided into smaller groups to discuss issues and solutions to current societal problems.

Fabina Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center and one of the organizers of the Ithaca event, said it was important to spend time talking to each other about problems the community faces today. "If we want different solutions we must create different processes. That is, looking at some of the work that the Poor People’s Campaign is doing and being in alignment with that," said Fabina Benitez Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center and one of the organizers of the Ithaca event. Nationwide, organizers are trying to bring about a revival of the Poor People's Campaign with an emphasis on systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.

Self-Driving Cars And Reclaiming Time Spent Behind The Wheel

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - People organize their lifestyles around access to transportation, so the advent of autonomous vehicles is important for their economic, social and environmental impact. That's from one of the authors of a new paper on the subject. Assistant professor in sustainability at RIT, Eric Williams, says they looked at a number of ways people could reclaim all the time they spend behind the wheel. "Anything from okay, we need to bring our kids to the sports team, well let's have the vehicle do it instead of doing it ourselves.  You know, thinking of taking a lot more trips, overnight in your car, because your car can drive you rather than having to stay up yourself," he said. Williams says the top 20 percent of people who drive or take public transit everyday could benefit from such vehicles.