Gov. Cuomo to host final tasting for craft beer contest

ALBANY (AP) — Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a panel of judges will decide New York’s favorite craft beer with a blind taste test.

The final tasting of the Taste NY Inaugural Craft Beer Challenge is set for Wednesday in New York City.

The judging panel includes Cuomo, chef Mario Batali and other noted food critics, chefs and restaurant owners.

More than 70 breweries signed up to participate, and more than 42,000 votes were cast online.

The five final breweries are Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester, Prison City Pub and Brewery in Auburn, The Roscoe NY Beer Co. in Roscoe and Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood.

Cuomo’s office says New York is now home to 321 microbreweries, farm breweries and restaurant breweries.

Push is on for equal rights amendment in New York state

ALBANY (AP) — Democrats in the New York state Senate want to add an equal rights amendment to the state constitution.

The proposal detailed Tuesday would add language prohibiting discrimination based on gender, disability, sexual orientation or identity or several other characteristics.

Constitutional language adopted in 1938 outlaws discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion and a patchwork of state laws goes further to prohibit discrimination based on other factors.

Supporters say the protections are so vital they need to be included in the state constitution — and that existing rules need to be updated to include gender, sexual orientation or identity and disability.

Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger calls the amendment a “no brainer.”

Voters would decide whether to approve the amendment if lawmakers agree to put it on the ballot.

Senate votes to accelerate start of upstate Uber, Lyft

ALBANY (AP) — Uber and Lyft may be coming to upstate New York in time for the Fourth of July.

The New York Senate voted 60-0 Wednesday to allow the two ride-hailing apps to begin service in cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany on June 29, 10 days earlier than they can start under an existing law passed earlier this year.

“This is one of the busiest tourism weekends of the year and both residents and visitors to New York state will greatly benefit,” said Sen. James Seward, an Otsego County Republican.

Lawmakers voted earlier this year to allow Uber and Lyft to expand into upstate New York after years of being limited to the New York City area — though the law also required a 90-day wait to give the companies, and their new host communities, time to prepare.

Uber and Lyft had hoped to begin service before the lucrative and busy July Fourth weekend, but the required 90-day delay pushed the date to July 9 when lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed to reach a deal on a state budget on time.

Supporters of the accelerated timeframe say permitting Uber and Lyft to start before Independence Day weekend likely will reduce drunken driving during the busy holiday.

In a statement, Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang thanked the state Senate “for working to make our streets safer by ensuring that New Yorkers have a reliable transportation option when celebrating over July 4th weekend.”

“We have been waiting years to bring ridesharing to New York State and are happy to wait an extra week,” she added. “However, we are prepared to launch as early as June 29th.

The measure now moves to the Assembly, which could vote as soon as next week.

Nonprofit: Macy’s criminal background checks discriminate

NEW YORK (AP) — A nonprofit organization that helps ex-prisoners says Macy’s criminal background check policies used to screen job applicants violates federal discrimination laws.

The Fortune Society made the charges against the department store in a complaint filed with The New York Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday.

The social service organization says Macy’s terminates employees and rejects otherwise qualified job applicants and employees because of their criminal histories.

In a statement, the nonprofit’s President and CEO, JoAnne Page, said “responsible corporate citizens should not be putting roadblocks” in the way of people who are eager to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Macy’s did not immediately return messages seeking comment.