New York’s controversial new driver’s licenses, which feature black-and-white pictures are are lauded by officials as nearly impossible to forge, debut in July.

Much budget-related wheeling and dealing took place this weekend, with the governor and legislative leaders hoping for an agreement in time to start passing bills this coming week.

The Buffalo News editorializes in support of a bottle bill expansion to generate $24 million a year for the Environmental Protection Fund. (The expansion was included in the Assembly’s one-house budget).

GOP NYC mayoral candidate Adolfo Carrion paid his 23-year-old daughter more than $12,800 to work on his campaign.

Carrion boasted this week of getting more than $250,000 in campaign donations and pledges, but just shy of $46,000 actually materialized in his filing.

Democratic NYC mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson posted a web video “welcoming” frontrunner/NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn to the race.

The possibility of Quinn’s election raises the prospect of an unprecedented standoff next year with the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade if she becomes the city’s first openly gay and first female mayor.

NYC Comptroller John Liu, who formally announced his mayoral bid today, remains undeterred despite his ongoing fundraising scandal, insisting: “(T)he persistence of the support from all different quarters fuels my adrenaline.”

Speaking at CPAC, Sarah Palin mocked Mayor Bloomberg’s notorious ban on large sugary drinks.

Rep. Rand Paul narrowly won the CAPC straw poll; Sen. Marco Rubio finished second.

The DN says state lawmakers and Cuomo should “banish the thought” of passing an early extension of the millionaire’s tax because “there is zero fiscal rationale now” for stretching it into 2015 and beyond.

Phil Reisman on Assemnblyman Steve Katz’s pot arrest: “(N)ow in the court of public opinion he must face the additional charge of hypocrisy. It doesn’t help that he put out a statement only a week ago, decrying the ‘illegal drug culture and the abuse of narcotics.’”

Since the SAFE Act was approved in January, Niagara County has received so many applications for new pistol permits that workers can’t handle them all – more already this year than it approved in all of 2010.

The SAFE Act provision that requires federal background checks for private firearms sales, plus others that set tougher penalties for gun crimes and require mental health professionals to report the names of patients they consider likely to seriously hurt themselves or others, took effect Saturday.

Mental health advocates and experts are not happy with the new reporting requirements.

One day before the effective date of the mental health provisions, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks said county workers don’t have enough guidance to comply. They hadn’t been trained, the reporting website had not been set up yet, and they haven’t gotten answers to their questions.

There’s an ammo shortage in Ithaca.

Some background on state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling, who rejected Bloomberg’s ban: He likes pick-up basketball and was a ladies man when he was young.

A graphic breakdown of how much the NYC mayoral candidates have spent to date and have left to spend.

The Buffalo News dubs Rep. Brian Higgins “the closest thing to a political rock star that we now have.” Other WNY electeds didn’t rank high in terms of effectiveness.

No. 1 on the list: Howard A. Zemsky, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority chairman and Cuomo’s go-to WNY economic development guy.

The pros and cons of publicly financed campaigns, which Cuomo has said he supports – in some form.

New York City has claimed the dubious distinction as the capital of the shark fin trade in the U.S. since California banned the industry Jan. 1. But a bill re-introduced in the state Legislature could change all that.

This weekend’s gun show in Saratoga Springs was a far cry from the high-profile one held in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre.

Juan Gonzalez praises Cuomo for opening a state Office for New Americans.

Carl Paladino is promising to sponsor a GOP primary opponent against incumbent Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer in 2014 if that person pledges not to support Dean Skelos as Senate Republican leader.

The state Office of Mental Health has begun legal proceedings for John Justice, who’s serving a 30-year sentence for killing his parents, brother and neighbor, to be declared mentally unfit for release when his prison term expires in 2015.

Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. is broke and eligible for a court-appointed lawyer at taxpayer expense, a federal judge ruled.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher could make her recommendations for the interim presidencies at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam during the board of trustees meeting Monday and Tuesday in Purchase.