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State news in brief

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - Updated: 8:23 AM

Development group drops Catskills casino bid

LIBERTY (AP) -- A second development group is dropping its proposal to build a casino in the Catskills, citing the possibility of a competing casino closer to New York City.

Foxwoods and Muss Development informed local officials Monday that they are dropping plans to build a casino in Liberty in Sullivan County. An advertisement to appear in local papers said the prospect of a casino in Orange County made it impossible to secure proper financing.

Earlier this month, Trading Cove and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin said they would not bid for a license in the Sullivan County town of Thompson for similar reasons.

Applicants must submit proposals by June 30 for one of four licenses that will be granted in upstate New York.

There are still applications expected in the Catskills.

Assembly OKs fracking ban; Senate hopes dim

ALBANY (AP) -- New York's state Assembly has voted to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas for three years, but that's as far as the bill is likely to go.

Monday's 89-34 vote in favor of the ban on fracking could be largely symbolic, since the Senate isn't expected to consider the legislation before lawmakers adjourn later this week.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says there's no reason to rush a decision on fracking before its effects on health and the environment are better understood.

New York has had a moratorium on fracking since an environmental review was launched in 2008.

A decision on whether to continue the moratorium is expected from Gov. Andrew Cuomo once his health department completes a health impact review that began in 2012.

Driver rams truck, nearly hits trooper, four others

GANSEVOORT (AP) -- A 43-year-old upstate New York man has been charged after state police say he intentionally rammed his pickup truck into another vehicle, nearly hitting a trooper and four other people.

Troopers were called to a home in the Saratoga County hamlet of Gansevoort on Sunday for a report of a domestic disturbance. While they were conducting interviews with witnesses, Joseph Golden of Greenfield Center returned to the scene and drove his truck into the back of a parked pickup.

The trooper, a 13-year-old and three adults were nearly hit by the parked truck as it was pushed forward.

Police say Golden fled the scene in his truck and hit another vehicle on a nearby road where he was taken into custody.

He's being held in the county jail. It couldn't be determined if he has a lawyer.

New York governor signs law keeping Tesla sales

ALBANY (AP) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that lets Tesla Motors keep its five retail locations in the state while strengthening auto dealer franchise protections.

The governor's office says the measure establishes the deal announced in March among Tesla, the New York State Automobile Dealers Association and the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.

Cuomo says the amendments to current law are meant to allow innovation and ensure both groups can thrive.

According to the governor's office, the measure allows additional retail locations for electric carmaker Tesla.

The law also clarifies the general prohibition on manufacturers owning or controlling a retail franchise and sets limits on manufacturer-required renovations by their franchises in New York.

Cops: Suspect surrenders in fatal hit-run of girl

LEVITTOWN (AP) -- A Long Island man wanted in connection with a hit-and-run that killed a developmentally disabled girl has surrendered to police.

Michael Elardo, of Syosset, was charged Monday with leaving the scene of an accident.

Nassau County police say he fled after striking 13-year-old Bryanna Soplin with his car as she crossed Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown just after midnight on Saturday.

Her parents said she left the house after everyone had gone to bed to visit her grandfather. They say Bryanna had Down syndrome.

Elardo was set to be arraigned on Tuesday.

It wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer.

Reward offered in dog abandonment case

CORAM (AP) -- The SPCA is offering a $2,000 reward in the case of a dog shoved out of an SUV on Long Island.

Roy Gross of the Suffolk SPCA says authorities responding to a tip found the frightened dog sitting by a curb last Thursday in Coram.

The reward is for information leading to the driver's arrest and conviction.

Rescuers say the dog is sweet and friendly despite his ordeal. He's white, with a fluffy tail. He appears to be about 6 years old.

Senate passes bills protecting women's rights

ALBANY (AP) -- New York's Republican-led Senate has passed three bills relating to employment and housing discrimination and equal pay for women.

On Monday the upper chamber passed the bills that would prevent discrimination based on family status, prevent housing discrimination against domestic violence victims and ensure equal pay regardless of gender.

The bills are part of the 10-point Women's Equality Agenda which includes a contentious abortion plank.

Last year the Senate passed nine out of the 10 Women's Equality Act bills but the Assembly failed to take up the measure because it didn't include the abortion bill.

Members of the Assembly are requesting that the bills be broken up and passed individually. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters that his chamber will evaluate the bills the Senate passed.

Man steals $215,000 from his elderly aunt

BUFFALO (AP) -- A western New York man admits he stole more than $215,000 from the elderly aunt who entrusted him to make decisions for her.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office says 64-year-old Donald Gubbins of North Tonawanda faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced in October.

Prosecutors said Gubbins pleaded guilty Monday to grand larceny after stealing from his aunt's banking account for five years beginning in 2008 while she was in a nursing home. The aunt had granted her nephew power of attorney.

Gov. Cuomo seeks flood aid for western NY

ALBANY (AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking a federal major disaster declaration for 11 central and western New York counties after storms and flooding caused widespread damage.

The affected counties are Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Steuben and Yates.

The storms that began on May 12 brought rainfall in some areas at rates of 5 to 7 inches in less than three hours. Over 6,500 homes and business were without power and over 130 families sustained significant property damage.

A damage assessment validated state and county expenditures of more than $28 million in response and recovery efforts.

Long Island couple finds 3-foot python in couch

HOLBROOK (AP) -- Officials on Long Island say a couple was startled when they discovered a 3-foot-long python in a couch.

The Suffolk County SPCA says Peter Wang and his wife were cleaning a basement apartment that had just recently been vacated when the wife removed one of the cushions from the couch and saw the snake.

Wang called the Town of Brookhaven Holtsville Ecology Center, which notified the SPCA.

The SPCA says the non-venomous Ball Python belonged to a former tenant and was going to be cared for by an upstairs tenant when it got loose.

     

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