- Associated Press - Saturday, April 29, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Lawmakers in Albany are taking another look at New York state subsidies for nuclear plants, and critics of solitary confinement are pushing for restrictions to the practice.

A look at what’s coming up this week:

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NUCLEAR SUBSIDIES

Skeptical lawmakers will take another look at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to invest billions of dollars of ratepayer money into aging nuclear power plants.

State energy regulators are expected to defend the subsidies Monday at an Assembly hearing focusing on the policy that will see utility consumers pay up to $7.6 billion in subsidies over several years. Cuomo, a Democrat, argues the money will ensure the nuclear plants remain open and not be replaced by fossil fuel plants while the state shifts to greater renewable energy.

Some environmentalists and consumer advocates have objected, saying the investment amounts to a costly bailout for a hazardous industry.

Some lawmakers have also questioned the plan, saying they and the public were left out of the process.

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SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

Critics of solitary confinement gather in Albany on Tuesday to push lawmakers to find alternatives to a corrections practice they say amounts to psychological torture.

Three hundred people, including former inmates and their relatives, corrections experts and mental health experts, are expected for the lobbying day.

Legislation pending before the Senate and Assembly would restrict solitary confinement to no more than 15 consecutive days unless the inmate is sent to a special residential rehabilitation unit. The bill would also prohibit solitary imprisonment for young and elderly offenders and pregnant women and set standards for short-term solitary confinement.

Supporters say more than 4,000 people are now held in isolation in state correctional facilities.

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CAT DECLAW BAN

A proposal to make it illegal to declaw cats is back before the Legislature.

Animal welfare advocates and veterinarians who oppose the procedure will lobby lawmakers Tuesday for the legislation, which didn’t get a vote last year.

The measure has divided veterinarians. Some say declawing is cruel because it involves amputating the first segments of a cat’s toes. But others say it must remain legal as a last resort for troubled felines whose scratching behavior can’t be controlled.

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ADMINISTRATION MOVES

In another sign that he may be considering a run for the White House, Cuomo this month announced the hiring of Maria Comella as his new chief of staff. Comella is a former top communications aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and worked on the presidential campaigns of Republicans George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Comella replaces Melissa DeRosa, who was promoted to the senior position of secretary to the governor.


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