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Karen Magee delivered her message in no uncertain terms. "I am saying that I would urge parents at this point in time to opt out of testing," the New York State United Teachers president said in a 2015 interview on the radio show "Capitol Pressroom." The remark made Magee among the first high-profile union leaders in the country to explicitly encourage parents to opt the…

State Sen. Robert G. Ortt took the first step in his defense against felony election law charges Wednesday by claiming prosecutors never allowed him to provide relevant testimony to an Albany County grand jury during his voluntary appearance on March 23. Ortt, the North Tonawanda Republican who was indicted on a charge of “filing a false instrument” in a case that h…

West Seneca Central continues to be opt-out central, with nearly three-quarters of its students refusing to take the English Language Arts state assessments Tuesday. The opt-out movement seemed to remain strong, although opt-out numbers are down in some Western New York school districts and districts around the state also reported more students are taking the tests tha…

ALBANY – As lawmakers try to wrap up bread-and-butter fiscal issues of school funding and tax levels before a new fiscal year starts Saturday, negotiators at the state Capitol are still apart on how 16- and 17-year-olds who commit crimes are handled in the state’s justice system. The “raise the age” advocates are pushing to end decades of the criminal justice sy…

Months before any trial begins, State Sen. Robert G. Ortt already is mounting his defense against the felony election law charges lodged against him last week. And he is squarely aiming at his accuser – state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman – and the “politics” that the North Tonawanda Republican claims spawned the “ridiculous and baseless” accusations…

It's been quieter this year in the lead-up to New York State English language arts assessments, which begin this week. It seems the lines have not moved much since more than 200,000 students around the state refused to take the standardized test last year. "Opting out" started in spring 2012, when small numbers of children in school districts in pockets around the state…

ALBANY – The Seneca Nation’s decision this week to stop paying the state more than $100 million a year in casino revenue sharing caught leaders in Albany completely off guard. But on the Seneca territories, more than 300 miles away, tribal officials have known for months that this day was coming. Seneca officials did not raise a grievance with the state in 2013 w…

For the more than quarter-century that George D. Maziarz reigned supreme over Niagara County Republican politics, paying for elections never posed a problem for his brimming campaign treasury. Indeed, during the two years now scrutinized by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the former state senator from Newfane regularly checked in with around three-quarters …

The Seneca Nation of Indians is looking to make financial agreements directly with the three cities that host its casinos, President Todd Gates said Thursday. "Our obligation to the state ended," Gates said during a news conference on the Seneca Nation's Cattaraugus territory. "This will be something new." The Seneca leader contends that the Senecas' 2002 gamblin…

State Sen. Robert G. Ortt pleaded not guilty to three felony counts in an Albany courtroom Thursday after his Wednesday indictment on election law violations by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. The North Tonawanda Republican appeared in Albany County Court, one day after a grand jury indicted him and former Sen. George D. Maziarz as part of Schneiderman’s …

WASHINGTON – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sounds as if he is in a panic over the bill House Republicans plan to vote on Thursday to repeal and replace Obamacare. And to hear health professionals and policy wonks in the state tell it, he has plenty of reason to panic. The bill would force billions of dollars of additional annual costs onto the state. Thanks to an amendment …

ALBANY – The Seneca Nation of Indians is ending all casino payments to the state government effective next week, setting up a confrontation with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The decision stops the flow of more than $110 million a year to Albany, a portion of which then goes to host casino communities in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca. The Senecas say they are abidin…

ALBANY – As efforts to legalize ride-hailing in upstate intensify, one key question remains: Who would regulate transportation companies like Uber if New York permits their services? Localities now regulate taxi and liveries. But will the state be the sole entity to create and enforce regulations affecting the operations of firms like Uber and Lyft in upstate and on L…

ALBANY –  Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor President Trump fired, announced today he is joining the staff of the law school at New York University. “This is one way I plan to keep working hard on important issues I care about,’’ Bharara posted on his Twitter account Tuesday morning. “I am thrilled for this opportunity to continue addressing the issues…

Large numbers of people live in "transit deserts" in Buffalo and other upstate cities, where ride-hailing services could fill gaps in the public-transit network because carless residents must walk too far or wait too long for a bus, according to a report that Uber and the state conference of the NAACP plan to unveil Monday. They are releasing the report as ride-hailing …