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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ State and local police are increasing patrols and checkpoints statewide from April 10 to 15 to encourage drivers not to use their mobile phones. 

Authorities say "Operation Hang Up'' combines anti-texting and cell phone law enforcement with advertisements to let people know about the push and convince them to obey the law. 

The first offense is a minimum fine of $50. That can increase to $400 for the third offense. 


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ The state Health Exchange says 1.26 million New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 908,000 have enrolled for specific coverage.

The Department of Health says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes nearly 422,000 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and nearly 487,000 in government-funded Medicaid.

More than 70 percent were uninsured.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York's ethics board has notified four advocacy groups that it won't shield their financial backers from public disclosure, citing insufficient evidence that revealing their names is likely to result in threats or even harm to those supporters.

​The Joint Commission on Public Ethics in January rejected disclosure exemptions for Family Planning Advocates and New York Women's Equality Coalition, which back abortion rights.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York state is expanding a program that offers businesses tax credits in exchange for hiring at-risk youth.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that annual funding for the program has grown from $6 million to $10 million.

Participating businesses can earn a tax credit of up to $3,000 for hiring workers age 16 to 24 who are from New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany or several other urban areas covered by the program.

More than 1,000 businesses participated in the initiative in 2012, hiring nearly 13,000 young employees.  

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York will soon begin issuing red-and-white license plates to state and local emergency response vehicles.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new plates Thursday. They have a white background and a red banner and feature the letters "EM'' to designate the vehicle as being involved in emergency management.

The new plates are designed to make it easier to recognize emergency response vehicles during storms or other emergency situations.  

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A consumer watchdog group says New York's largest auto insurers are using education level and occupation to set rates, charging blue collar workers more for the same policy than college educated professionals.

Andy Morrison, a consumer advocate who worked on the report from the New York Public Interest Research Group, says the practice is unfair to minorities and low-income workers.


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.