Sunday January 27, 2013

In Brief

Massachusetts:

State tax season officially open

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts has officially begun to accept state tax returns.

The Revenue Department says it has created a "one-stop" page on its website where residents can get tax information and electronically file their returns for free.

Officials say more than 3,200 people have already used the WebFile system since it opened last Wednesday.

The IRS has delayed the opening of the federal tax filing season until Jan. 30.

The state says the vast majority of its 3.5 million taxpayers filed electronically last year, reducing the cost to the state of processing paper returns and guaranteeing quicker refunds.

Massachusetts:

Immigrant advocates push for drivers' licenses

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts immigrant advocates are set to gather at the State House in Boston to ask lawmakers to back a bill that will allows all state residents to apply for a driver's license, regardless of their immigration status.

Massachusetts law currently requires immigrants seeking a driver's license to prove that they are in the country legally. Immigrant advocates say changes will ensure that drivers on state roads are trained, licensed and insured.

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition has worked with two Democratic lawmakers to introduce the Safe Driving Bill to address the fact that unlicensed immigrants need to drive children to school and relatives to hospitals.


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Advocates will gather Tuesday at the State House to press lawmakers to back the bill introduced by Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield.

New York:

Schenectady officers disciplined for bar party

SCHENECTADY (AP) -- The Schenectady Police Department says some officers who attended an off-duty party featuring strippers will be disciplined for unprofessional conduct.

Police officials tell local media outlets that an investigation of the Dec. 19 party involving 20 officers didn't reveal any illegal activity.

The officers on the midnight shift had hired strippers for a party at a Schenectady bar owned by a retired officer.

Authorities didn't say Friday how many face discipline, which could involve letters of reprimand or loss of vacation or personal days.

Starting in the 1990s, the Schenectady department was the focus of a string of lawsuits, prosecutions and corruption investigations involving several officers and a former chief who served prison time for cocaine trafficking.

New York:

67 dead cats, 99 live cats taken from home

WRIGHT (AP) -- Authorities say they have removed 67 dead cats and 99 living cats from a filthy home in upstate New York.

The Times Union, of Albany, reports that the cats were removed Wednesday from a home in Wright, west of Albany.

The newspaper says the dead cats were packed in plastic bags in the freezer and the live cats were in crates stacked floor to ceiling.

Sheriff's deputies went to the home after a neighbor called to complain about the overpowering odor of cat urine and feces.

Charges are being weighed against the woman who lived in the home.

Kerrie Colin, manager of a nearby animal shelter, said she had tried to try to help the woman.

But Colin said the woman had "a hoarder mentality."

Connecticut:

Lawmakers to consider minimum-wage hike

HARTFORD (AP) -- Some Connecticut lawmakers are revisiting a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage.

The General Assembly's Labor and Public Employees Committee is scheduled to hear testimony Thursday on a bill that would raise the current rate of $8.25 an hour to $9 on July 1, and to $9.75 an hour on July 1, 2014.

The bill also calls for requiring the state labor commissioner, starting July 1, 2015, to adjust the minimum wage by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers in the northeast region.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would have increased the wage to $8.50 an hour this year and to $8.75 in 2014. The Senate did not take up the bill for a vote.