Local News Headlines 3/27/13 4:40am
A large crowd in Buffalo was one of several vigils held across the U-S by supporters of Gay Marriage as two major cases are heard by the U-S Supreme Court. One of the people on hand in front of the U-S District Court was a high-profile gay marriage advocate from Jamestown. City Council President Greg Rabb is also the only openly-gay elected official from the region. Rabb said he was joining others in Buffalo standing in support of striking down Proposition 8 in California... which ban's same-sex marriage. During oral arguments yesterday... several justices questioned whether the case should even be heard by the high court. Rabb says that's an encouraging sign. DOMA is also known as the federal Defense of Marriage Act... which has been in place since the 1990s. Rabb says the Supreme Court will hear most of the arguments for and against that today. Rabb believes there will be a decision in that case. But... it's not likely any decision will be issued until June.
Chautauqua County's Assemblyman says he's "outraged" at a state plan to offer a 500-dollar reward to people who turn in others who own an illegal assault rifle. Bemus Point Republican Andy Goodell says it's an apparent expansion of a program in New York City used to curb gun and gang violence in the city. Goodell says it's been a good program for the 'Big Apple...' but, the memo by the Division of Criminal Justice Services appears to be in retaliation against the 51 Upstate counties -- including Chautauqua -- which passed resolutions opposing the New York SAFE Act. Goodell says rifles accounted for only five murders in 2011. But... he says the SAFE Act requires more than one-million rifle owners to register their guns -- or face a potential felony. He says he will work to reverse this order... but, is asking law-abiding gun owners to voice their opposition directly to the governor... and, legislative leaders. Goodell says the recently legislation... which he voted against... also limits gun clips to only seven rounds... which inadvertantly made most police guns illegal.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says New York will spend 27.7-million dollars to develop the first statewide electronic handgun permit database as part of its new gun control law. Silver told The Associated Press late Tuesday that the measure will create a central database of pistol permit records now kept at the county level where handgun owners live. It will allow statewide cross-checking with records of crimes and involuntary commitments to mental health facilities. The law exempts records of individual handgun owners from the state Freedom of Information Law. That would avoid the conflict that arose when a newspaper reported the names of handgun permit holders and their addresses. The funding is in the tentative state budget expected to gain final legislative approval in the Assembly later this week.
There will be an early state budget... but, it won't be as early as lawmakers had hoped. That from Assemblyman Andy Goodell... who says the Senate began voting on final bills for the 135-billion dollar spending plan late Monday. The state legislature's upper chamber was to finish about Midnight last night. Goodell says the Assembly will be returning to Albany today... and, votes will begin Thursday. The Bemus Point Republican expects the final spending plan to be finalized by the end of the week. He's also pushing for some changes... like adding more money for The Resouce Center... and, other such entities that help the developmentally-disabled. Goodell says he also has problem with a "cash back" program for families with dependent children. There's a tax credit already in place for that... but, many lawmakers want an additional payment to those eligible. Goodell says he does like the restoration of aid to public schools... and, to the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program... or CHIPS funding.
The final state budget will include a 5-million dollar, no-interest loan for Salamanca, allowing the city to fill a gaping hole in its finances. State Senator Cathy Young says the Cattaraugus County city has been been experiencing dire fiscal stress... and, was at risk of not being able to pay its bills. Young says that's because casino revenues from the Seneca Nation of Indians have been withheld since 2009 due to the gaming compact dispute with the state. Young says a three-member panel led by former state Court of Appeals Chief Justice Judith Kaye has been charged with settling the disagreement through arbitration. The Olean Republican says this is "tremendous news for the residents of Salamanca, and should allay many of the city's worries. Not only will this money provide what is needed for Salamanca's current fiscal year... but, it also will allow local officials to plan the coming year's budget." She adds she's grateful for Governor Cuomo's support in "reaching this solution." Last year... Salamanca received 2.5-million dollars in emergency state funding, also as a loan, to help close a similar budget shortfall.