Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York has decided that starting next year, patients will be protected against surprise out-of-network medical bills that have pushed some toward personal bankruptcy.

The measure, signed into law this week, is scheduled to take effect next April 1.

Meanwhile, insurance officials will write regulations on coverage, disclosures to patients and establish an arbitration process intended to settle related billing disputes between doctors and insurers, leaving patients out of them.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York's ethics commission reports $210 million was spent on state and local lobbying last year. 

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, in its 2013 annual report, says its enforcement cases resulted in more than $450,000 in penalties. 

The report shows a record $191 million was spent last year on compensation for in-house and retained lobbyists. 

Top spenders on lobbying included tobacco companies, teachers' unions and hospital groups. 

The commission publishes the 2013 data on its website. 

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ New York education officials say they will not store student information with the data storage firm inBloom.

State Education Department spokesman Dennis Tomkins says Wednesday that the state has directed inBloom to delete data that's been stored so far.

The move follows this week's passage of the state budget, which includes a provision to end the state's relationship with inBloom.

A statement from inBloom Wednesday says the company respects the state's decision but still believes its technology can improve learning.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has named a new director for the city's office of public integrity.  He is Timothy Weir, who joins the city after a 26 year career with the FBI in which his duties included being a forensic accounting specialist dealing with white collar crimes. 

In his new job, Weir will be responsible for investigating reports of fraud, corruption, waste and abuse within city government. He will also direct internal audits and administrative investigations.

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A federal judge has denied a request by ESPN to dismiss a libel suit filed by the wife of former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.

 Laurie Fine accused the sports cable television network of libel and slander in its coverage of child-molesting allegations against her husband. The lawsuit, filed in May 2012, claims the network's coverage was grossly irresponsible. State and federal investigators dropped charges against Fine.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Bills owner Ralph Wilson's death has raised the sense of urgency for a newly formed stadium search committee to address the franchise's long-term needs to remain viable in Buffalo.

That was the consensus voiced by members of what's called the "New Stadium Work Group,'' which met for the first time Tuesday, a week after Wilson died.

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said members "understand the seriousness of the process.''

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called the meeting productive, but cautioned it could take years before making recommendations.


New York officials are warning about tax collection scams. 

Scammers are calling people claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service or the state Tax Department and demanding immediate payments.

Tax officials say New Yorkers should be careful about providing personal information or making payments in response to telephone calls.

Ginna Nuclear Power Plant

SCRIBA, N.Y. (AP) _ The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the direct transfer of operating licenses for five commercial nuclear power reactors, including three in upstate New York. 

The licenses for the Nine Mile Point and Ginna nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario, along with two at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, will be transferred from Constellation Energy to Exelon. 

The license approval also includes three spent fuel storage installations and allows Exelon to integrate the operations of the facilities into its existing nuclear fleet. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino says he will pull his children from New York's Common Core tests this week, claiming the new academic standards are turning children into guinea pigs.

The Westchester County executive on Monday released a video on his campaign website saying he and his wife are protesting Common Core by opting out of the exams this week for their children in third and fifth grade. 

Astorino calls the standards "Cuomo's Common Core'' and says New York's parents and teachers will lose local control over classrooms.

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  ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A key lawmaker is pitching a plan to legalize, license and tax Internet poker in New York state. 

The legislation from Republican Sen. John Bonacic would amend state gambling laws to license up to 10 operators to offer online poker games, specifically including Texas Hold `em. 

Operators would pay a $10 million licensing fee and a tax of 15 percent of their gross revenues.