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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) - Public defenders are calling Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state funding proposal a Band-Aid solution to funding gaps for their offices.

A coalition of county leaders, clergy and national criminal defense groups Tuesday urged Cuomo to increase state money for public defenders in his budget.

Cuomo has proposed a total of $240 million to fund public defense in the state, but defenders say it will cost approximately $400 million for the basic costs of local public defense.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Local Democratic U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter says her guest for President Donald Trump's address to Congress will be a Rochester man who benefited from health care reform.

Republicans in control of Congress face pressure to scrap the Affordable Care Act, though finding a way to do it has proved difficult. Trump said Monday that "nobody knew that health care could be so complicated."

www.agriculture.ny.gov

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York State is expanding its testing of food and beverages in an effort to prevent foodborne illness.

The state announced Friday that some 67,000 samples in 2016, up 10 percent from the year before.

The laboratory is responsible for analyzing food and beverage samples for impurities and health hazards. State testing resulted in more than 300 recalls last year.

Ginna Nuclear Power Plant

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A conservative free market group has joined liberal environmental advocates criticizing New York's plan to charge ratepayers up to $7.6 billion to keep three aging upstate nuclear plants operating.

Citizens Against Corporate Bailouts director Gregg Keller says state lawmakers should reject the deal, which he says amounts to "corporate cronyism."

A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the group is just doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry.

www.brightlinewatch.org

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A survey of U.S. political science faculty a month into Donald Trump's presidency shows that fraud-free elections tops a list of 19 principles most essential to democracy, as do free speech and a free press.

Professors at Dartmouth College, the University of Rochester and Yale University collaborated on the Bright Line Watch survey to get an expert reading on the status of democratic practices and potential threats to American democracy.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  Local producers of beer, wine, cider and liquor have opened 32 new off-site stores in New York State in the past year _ evidence the state's alcohol industry continues to age well. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the numbers on Thursday. A new state law allows local farm breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries to operate off-site stores to better connect with consumers. 

Cuomo, a Democrat, says the businesses are helping to revitalize local economies by creating jobs, benefiting local agriculture and increasing tourism. 

NEW YORK (AP & WXXI News) J.C. Penney says it will be closing anywhere from 130 to 140 stores as well as two distribution centers over the next several months as it aims to improve profitability in the era of online shopping.

The closures, announced Friday, represent about 13 percent to 14 percent of the company's current store count, and less than 5 percent of total annual sales. The news came as Penney posted a profit in the fourth-quarter compared to a loss a year ago.

freeimages.com/Joe Zlomek

LGBT advocates are denouncing and conservatives are praising the Trump administration's decision to lift Obama-era federal guidelines concerning transgender students.

The guidelines allowed students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identities.

"It's on the forefront of people's minds, it happens often enough. I think people are generally questioning, is this going to change anything,” said Steve Carling, deputy general counsel for the Rochester City School District.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cut $25 million from 39 public health programs that fight cancer, diabetes and other conditions. 

The Democrat's administration says it will be up to state health officials to decide where to make the reductions, which are intended to make public health spending more efficient. A spokesman says Cuomo's $152 billion budget proposal increases health care spending overall. 

NPR

WASHINGTON (AP & WXXI News) — Maryland's U.S. senators are sponsoring legislation to bring a statue of Harriet Tubman to the U.S. Capitol Building.

The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation in 2012 creating the Harriet Tubman Statue Commission to raise money and commission a statue for display in the U.S. Capitol Building. But Congress must pass legislation to accept the donation.

The bill Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin announced Monday will direct the Joint Committee on the Libraries to enter into an agreement to accept the statue.

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