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A majority of Western New Yorkers shopping for health insurance through the NY State of Health exchange chose low-priced plans, offered by companies new to the local market, over costlier plans provided by the region’s dominant insurers, the state reported Wednesday.Health Republic Insurance of New York and Fidelis Care together grabbed 58 percent of the exchange market sh…

Billy Leverentz, the owner of an East Aurora high-performance automotive engine shop, stole thousands of dollars from racing enthusiasts by billing them for work he never performed, State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman alleged Tuesday in a lawsuit. And when Leverentz, whose business at 391 Olean Road is called “Billy Leverentz Racing Engines,” performed work, it wa…

A Rochester-area girl was arrested Monday, just hours after state police posted a regional Amber Alert – a warning that startled a number of Buffalo-area residents who received the electronic bulletin on cellphones. Cassidy N. Geffert, 16, was arrested at the Econo Lodge in Brockport at about 3 p.m., 90 minutes after news of her disappearance was released, along with the …

State lawmakers, prior to recessing for the summer last week, approved child protection legislation requiring the state to track repeated reports of abuse and neglect through the statewide child abuse hotline.Sponsored by State Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, the new legislation – which was unanimously passed by the State Senate late Friday – requires the state Office of Chil…

The state is channeling $1.4 million for affordable housing projects in Erie County.State Sen. Tim Kennedy and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, both Democrats, said the funding will be distributed to four nonprofit groups, one each in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Lackawanna and a group representing the interests of rural communities in the Southtowns. The funds are provided through the Aff…

Buffalo

The City of Buffalo has long sought the ability to adjudicate traffic tickets issued within city limits and keep the associated revenue. Now it looks like that day might finally arrive. The State Legislature passed the bill in the waning days of its session and it will be sent to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his signature.The bill allows the city more revenue, and also allows …

Politics

ALBANY – The 2014 legislative session ended Friday in a bill-passing flurry, with lawmakers giving final approval to measures legalizing medical marijuana, providing tax breaks for developers of abandoned industrial sites and letting people ticketed for driving violations in Buffalo plea-bargain their way to lesser penalties.Despite some high-profile issues being addressed…

ALBANY – The use of Common Core-based standardized test scores to evaluate the job performance of New York’s public school teachers will be put on hold while the state works on improving the way the controversial curriculum program is operated.The delay was agreed to Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Assembly passed the bill late Thursday night, and the Senate approved th…

Local News

ALBANY – New York will become the 23rd state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana under an agreement reached Thursday at the Capitol.However, some advocates say it is too limiting and will take too long to implement for patients who cannot wait the couple of years it could take before the drug’s use can be prescribed by doctors.The agreement is expected to receive f…

Politics

ALBANY – Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have come together on two of the more contentious issues of the 2014 State Legislature session, with tentative deals this afternoon on a limited medical marijuana system for some chronic health conditions and a two-year delay in job performance evaluations of public school teachers based on the controversial Common Core standards…

Buffalo

ALBANY – All 5-year-olds in Buffalo will be required to attend kindergarten under legislation that received final approval from the State Legislature on Wednesday.The move, advocates say, will both boost early learning and eventually help improve high school graduation rates.After passage in the Senate last week, the Assembly approved the measure that will no longer allow…

ALBANY – The Buffalo Bills’ effort to start selling beer an hour earlier for Sunday home games has come up short.“It’s dead,” acknowledged Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who recently popped in a bill, at the team’s request, to permit alcohol sales inside the stadium to start at 11 a.m., thereby carving out special treatment from the state’s noontime start for alcohol sales by bars…

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is pushing a medical marijuana plan that would ban smoking of the drug and allow it to be dispensed in only a liquid or oil-based form.The governor’s demand comes at a time when he has ordered the state Health Department to work on a scaled-down medical marijuana program in which the drug could be smoked and comes after he told the Working Fam…

ALBANY – A couple of weeks after losing the Working Families Party nomination to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Zephyr Teachout, a liberal activist and Fordham University law professor, said Friday she is seeking to run against Cuomo in a Democratic Party primary.“I’m doing it because right now the system is rigged, and Cuomo is not going to fix it,” Teachout said in an interview. …