Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

NY agriculture dept. promotes local, farm-fresh Christmas trees

Local and state officials are promoting farm-fresh Christmas trees this holiday season. It’s an $8 million industry in New York State and the trees are also good for the environment.

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Albany, NY – A health care company has launched a new web tool that allows consumers to research hospitals in their area.

The Excellus website now offers a database where consumers can find out the number of procedures a hospital does, the number of successful surgeries, and surveys of patient satisfaction.

Albany, NY – "Seans Law" takes effect today.

The legislation shortens the time it takes to get teenage drunk drivers off the road.

Previously, judges could not suspend the license of a driver under the age of 18 until all court proceedings were complete.

"Sean's Law" will allow judges to immediately suspend the junior licenses of driver who have been charged with DWI.

Oswego, NY –
Environemental Activists in New York have an answer to help alleviate the state's fiscal crisis -- Expand the the state's 20-year old Bottle Bill. WRVO's Chris Ulanowski has the story.

Albany, NY – The State Univeristy of New York Trustees have decided to delay releasing their budget proposal until February.

That has some critics wondering if tuition will rise in the new year.

CLICK on the icon above to hear Elizabeth Christensen's full report.

Syracuse – The Syracuse Peace Council is helping Syracuse-area youth speak out against a possible war in Iraq.

"Youth Empowerment for Peace", a group of eighteen Syracuse youth from four high schools, sponsored an educational program last night titled, "Behind the war; What youth need to know".

Andy Mager, co-coordinator of the Peace Council says young people have a role in addressing issues of war and peace and will feel the effects of a war in Iraq.

WRVO – Family members of people who were imprisoned under New York's harsh Rockefeller-era drug laws are disappointed that the state legislature failed this year to reform the 30-year-old law.

But they're not giving up, according to this report from WRVO's Chris Ulanowski.

WRVO – The Senate passed SONDA and Governor George Pataki signed it into law last night. It's the first time in the 31-year history of the bill that the measure has been allowed to go for a vote.

Yesterday, before the official votes were cast, WRVO's Chris Ulanowski asked Syracuse-area Republican John DeFrancisco how he planned to vote on SONDA and other matters before the State Senate.

WRVO – Retailers are counting on last minute and post-holiday shopping to bolster their bottom line.

WRVO's Amy Cavalier reports on the Retail Council of New York State's latest report on holiday shopping.

Syracuse, NY – Onondaga County finally has an indoor smoking policy.

An amended version of the Clean Indoor Air Act, also known as the Warner Winslow bill, was adopted by the full legislature yesterday.

The bill will prohibit smoking in public places such as restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys.

Smaller businesses, those with less than 50 seats, will be given 18 months to two years to comply with the new law.

Albany, NY – The state's largest public employees union is getting out in front in the debate over the state budget.

New York is facing a budget deficit which could be as high as 10 billion dollars.

Civil Services Employees Association spokesman Stephen Madarasz says his union is worried that members will become "scapegoats" in budget deliberations.

He's scared that state employees will not get the pay raise they've been asking for.

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