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By Greg SlabodkinOver the past few weeks, our elected representatives have had a lot on their plates. With our country headed for a fiscal cliff and the gun control debate heating up, legislators are a little preoccupied. Nevertheless, the Senate on Dec. 28 found time to reauthorize the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, ensuring fiv…

It is intolerable, unacceptable and outrageous that it took six months and legal action from The Buffalo News before both the Buffalo School District and the Town of Hamburg reluctantly handed over documents in separate cases involving taxpayer money.Top officials in both the school system and town kept a death grip on information that should have been immediately availabl…

By Mike DurantRevitalizing the upstate economy has been a goal for policy makers in New York for decades. Many of the jobs once provided by a booming manufacturing industry are gone from the region. Gone as well are many young people who left in search of better opportunities.Health care and social assistance providers are now the top employers upstate. There are also serv…

One of the most intriguing proposals in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State address centered on a subject to which he has devoted significant attention over the past two years: education.Cuomo wants the school day or the school year – or both – to be longer, and he suggested a way that it could be done. The only questions are whether the money and the will exis…

A proposal that would make witness intimidation, for the first time, a federal offense with harsh punishments is welcome news for law enforcement.Congress should act promptly to approve the State Witness Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.Failure to do a better job of protecting those brave enough to step forward will have dire consequences in the …

If anyone thought the drama over the fiscal cliff was intense – unnecessarily intense, in fact – just wait for Act II. Congress must still deal with the federal budget deficit and the debt ceiling the government crashed through this month. Get ready for more grandstanding.It’s not that the issues aren’t serious; they are. That’s why it is so frustrating that Cong…

The furor over the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense would have Americans believe that President Obama has nominated someone so wholly unsuited to the job that they have to question the president’s judgment. In fact, what needs to be questioned is the peculiar response of Republican lawmakers to the nomination of one of their own.That’s not …

By Gabriel SayeghIn his State of the State address on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo passionately called for reforming New York’s marijuana possession laws in order to reduce the enormous number of unlawful, biased and costly arrests. Noting the discrepancy in the law between public and private possession of marijuana, he proposed standardizing the penalties for possess…

By Peter Baynes, Mike Durant and Brian SampsonIt is time for New York State to get serious about mandate relief. We are among the most fervent believers that the tax cap is one part of a two-part solution to make our communities more affordable. The second part, and equally as critical, is meaningful and immediate mandate relief.Many local governments and school districts …

By Margaret WoosterI saw “Promised Land” opening night, hoping Matt Damon and company would shed light on the impacts of high-volume hydrofracking on communities and ecosystems in these last critical days before New York State decides on permitting regulations. And some light was shed – on inflated promises of big money and jobs; on bribes to governments and farmers …

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo laid out a broad and ambitious agenda in his third State of the State speech on Wednesday, putting New York on a path that simultaneously builds on his “open for business” mantra, seeks improvement in critical areas and moves to shore up support from liberals who have not always appreciated the priorities of his first two years in office.In that, C…