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Today's Top Stories - Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Bath Village Police Report Suspicious People Looking in Vehicles
The Village of Bath Police Department reports an incident of suspicious people walking around houses and vehicles with flashlights and lights on their heads. The Department responded to the area of Robie and Allen Street early yesterday morning and attempted to stop and identify two subjects dressed in dark clothing in the area of Haverling High School, but the pair fled on foot toward Allen Street. The Village of Bath Police remind residents to lock their vehicles and store any valuable items out of sight inside your vehicle. Anyone with information or footage capturing the suspects should contact the Bath Village Police.


Congressman Reed Sends Letter Demanding Answers from SUNY
Congressman Tom Reed has released a sent letter to SUNY System Chancellor Kristina Johnson and President of SUNY Binghamton after a visit by economist Art Laffer to Binghamton University where he was heckled off the stage and escorted by security, preventing him from giving his speech. Press reports say the protesters did not approve of the campus Young Americans Foundation and the College Republicans, both were the groups that hosted Laffer’s talk. In Reed’s letter, he demands answers about the free speech policies of SUNY.


Assembly Minority Leader Arrested for DWI
New York State Minority Leader Brian Kolb was arrested and taken into custody on New Year’s Eve for Driving While Intoxicated. The Republican Assemblyman of the 131st district was arrested by Ontario County Sheriff’s Office after deputies responded to the report of a property damage crash in Victor. Kolb was taken into custody then charged with unsafe turning and a DWI with a BAC over .08% No one was injured in the crash and Kolb appears in Victor Town Court at a later date. The arrest came two weeks after a public safety statement given by Kolb advising constituents not to drink and drive.


Campaign Finance Plan by Commission Passed
The December deadline has passed for state politicians to block a politically-appointed commission’s plan to publicly finance campaigns in New York State. Both Democrats and Republicans were critical of the plan, but are expected to refine the details next year and will have time to make changes. The plan would have New Yorkers giving donations of $250 or less have their donations matched with public funds 6 to 1 for statewide offices like governor so a $100 donation would be worth $700.  Local donations would be matched 12 to 1 for the first $50. Voting rights groups see the plan as a leap forward but say legislators should lower the limits on political contributions and ensure the system has independent oversight.


New York State Tax Reforms Take Effect This Year
The beginning of 2020 brought a lot of new changes when it comes to tax break reforms. Effective yesterday, businesses in the state can receive a tax credit for providing child care facilities to employees. Tax credits will be allowed for employers hiring certain people in recovery from substance use disorders. Also receiving tax breaks in the professional world will be New York television studios that hire television writers who are women and minorities.


Undetectable Guns to Soon Be Criminalized in NYS
New York is soon criminalizing weapons that are not detectable by X-Ray machine or metal detector. The law takes effect on Monday, January 27th and prohibits the manufacture, sale, transport and possession of undetectable firearms, rifles and shotguns as well as the parts and components to these guns. Another new state law sets statewide standards for gun buyback programs. Municipalities and groups across the state already host programs aimed at allowing citizens to get rid of unwanted or illegal guns. However, supporters of the new law say the programs aren’t available everywhere and lack consistent standards.


New York Teens Can Now Pre-Register to Vote
This year, it will be easier for New York teens to prepare to vote once they reach the age to do so. Effective yesterday, New York is allowing those 16 years or older to preregister to vote before they reach age eighteen. Once someone turns 18, the State Elections Board automatically registers them to legally vote.


Adoptees Will Soon Be Granted Birth Certificates Without Court
This month, adoptees in New York will be able to obtain a certified birth certificate. Effective Wednesday January 15th, the new law allows adult adoptees, their descendants or legal representative to obtain a certified copy of their original birth certificate. Currently, adoptees must go before a judge to request access for their birth certificate and that access isn’t always granted. The National Conference of State Legislatures says half of the states in the US still require a court order. Critics of the new law say they are concerned about the privacy rights of birth parents.

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