Legislators head back to work with ethics on their minds, frigid temperatures bring Code Blue alert, Albany marijuana dispensary to open this week

Lawmakers and ethics

Lawmakers are back at work at the Capitol and focused on ethics reform, but there is still a disagreement about what that reform will look like. [TU][TWCN][WNYT]

Legislative swipe cards
As the session opens, lawmakers will use swipe card devices to help prove they are in Albany. [TU]

Funeral directors, dry cleaners and vets
How some NYS legislators make their living when they're not legislating. [NYT]

$7 billion proposed for upstate
In what he is calling "the largest construction program in modern political history in the state of New York," Andrew Cuomo plans to introduce $7 billion in proposals for upstate, including transportation, energy and agriculture projects.[TU]

Code blue
Frigid temperatures on Tuesday meant Code Blue was in effect at homeless shelters in the Capital Region and around New York. In spite of Andrew Cuomo's recent executive order requiring all homeless people to go to shelters when the temperature is below freezing, some shelters are not forcing people to remain indoors. [WNYT][TWCN]

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Environmental Protection Fund nearly doubles
Andrew Cuomo is receiving praise from environmental groups for raising New York's Environmental Protection fund from $177 million to $300 million in his proposed 2016 budget.[TU]

Exploding manhole covers
An electrical cable fire underground caused yesterday's explosion of a manhole cover on State Street in Schenectady. [Gazette]

Alkaramla friends seek help paying for funeral
Friends of homicide victim Noel Alkaramla are seeking donations to help pay for a funeral for the 21-year old, whose body was discovered last week in a suitcase floating in the Hudson River following a three week long search. [TU]

Settlement for excessive force
A former UAlbany student who claimed an Albany police officer used excessive force on him while breaking up a party on Partridge Street in 2011 will be paid $70,000 in a settlement. [TU]

Former NYS prison official sentenced for harassment
Moments after opening statements in the coercion trial of James Ferro-- the former director of operations for Internal Affairs for New York's prisons charged with harassing a male subordinate and threatening to have him fired if he reported the incidents -- Ferro took a plea deal requiring 120 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. [TU]

Democratic Challenger for Farley
Democrat Chad Putman, a Schenectady City Hall employee, is planning to run against Hugh Farley for the 49th Senate District seat. [Gazette]

Albany superintendent vote
At least two members of Albany's City School Board say they are going to lobby fellow board members to vote on extending the contract of Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard before the end of January.[TU]

Marijuana dispensaries to open this week
Eight of 20 medical marijuana dispensaries will open on Thursday, including a location on North Pearl Street in Albany. [TU]

Democrat to run for Skelos' seat
Democrats have selected a former prosecutor to run for former Senator Dean Skelos' seat. [NYT]

Metroland staffers say goodbye
Former staff members share memories of Metroland. [TU]

Restaurants on the concourse
State workers - OGS wants to know what you want for lunch. [TU]


Happening today

UAlbany hoops
The UAlbany men's basketball team will be at SEFCU Arena to take on UMBC. Yep, when it's Great Danes and Retrievers you can throw out all the records. Wednesday 7 pm - $12 and up

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