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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)  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.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York State is paying $3 million to the family of a developmentally disabled boy repeatedly molested by a staffer at a state-run group home who later wrote that lax supervision at the facility made it "a predator's dream."

The former staffer, Stephen DeProspero, is now imprisoned in the Attica Correctional Facility. He was incriminated by videos and photographs he took of the molestation, which occurred from 2005 to 2008 at the facility located in central New York.

www.wbfo.org

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York has spent $8.1 million to install hundreds of "I Love NY" highway signs that are the subject of a dispute with the federal government.

Federal and state officials are working to resolve a dispute over the legality of the signs.

Federal highway officials say the signs don't comply with federal regulations.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration argues they give an important boost to the state's tourism industry by highlighting local products and sites.

Rep. Tom Reed's Office/Twitter

NORTH HARMONY, N.Y. (AP & WXXI News) — Republican Rep. Tom Reed was greeted by dozens of boisterous protesters at a town hall held in Chautauqua County this weekend.

The crowd at a senior center in North Harmony was so large that Reed's meeting was moved outside on a sunny Saturday morning. Many in the crowd held signs opposing Donald Trump's presidency.

TWC News

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) — Members of the Catholic Worker Movement who staged a sit-in at an office of a New York congressman who supports President Donald Trump have ended their protest after the Republican lawmaker showed up to speak with them.

npr.org

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  New York State will soon have new rules intended to protect bank and insurance customers from hacking. 

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that new regulations will take effect March 1 that require financial institutions to create and maintain cyber security programs intended to prevent illegal access to sensitive personal information. 

Many banks and insurers already have cyber security programs in place but the new regulation would make them mandatory. 

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