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New Mexico Ethics Watch: House Judiciary Committee Substitute For HJR 8, Creating Ethics Commission

on March 17, 2017 - 2:44pm
ETHICS News:
 
New Mexico Ethics Watch has significant concerns regarding the revised version of the constitutional amendment creating an Ethics Commission for New Mexico that the House of Representatives has sent to the Senate for consideration.
 
The House Judiciary Committee made sweeping changes to the legislation, changes that critically undermine a prospective commission’s independence, impartiality, and effectiveness. The legislation now before the Senate is flawed. The Senate should restore the resolution to the text it had at introduction before passing this measure.
 
The

Lottery Scholarship Gap Bill Goes To Governor

on March 17, 2017 - 8:50am
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  Lottery Scholarship Grace Period legislation, SB 420, sponsored by Sen. Bill Soules of Las Cruces, March 15 was passed by the full New Mexico House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support.
 
The bill allows students to take up to 16 months off before beginning college, and still qualify for the state Lottery Scholarship assistance. The measure was the top priority for NMSU students. It was passed earlier in the session by the Senate, and now goes to the Governor for signature.
 
“I am pleased that legislators passed this bill that is so important to

Udall, Tester, Cantwell Introduce Measure To Create Jobs By Fostering Entrepreneurship In Indian Country

on March 17, 2017 - 8:42am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
 
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and former committee chairs Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, legislation to help launch small businesses and encourage job creation in Indian Country. 
 
Their bill, S. 607, creates a competitive grant program to establish and fund business incubators that will assist in cultivating Native American-owned small businesses.

Chile License Plate Bill On It's Way To Gov. Martinez

on March 17, 2017 - 8:38am
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  March 15, the Senate endorsed House Bill 393 on a bipartisan 31 to 7 vote.  House Bill 393 is Rep. Cathrynn Brown’s proposal to create a specialty chile license plate for New Mexico. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Susana Martinez for her signature.
 
The specialty license plate would be available to New Mexicans for a fee of thirty-five dollars. Twenty-five dollars of the fee will be used to fund educational programs at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.

Letter To The Editor: Gun Violence

on March 17, 2017 - 8:24am
By BARBARA MOHON
Santa Fe
 
We have a gun violence problem in New Mexico, and sensible gun policy could be a solution.
 
America's gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries. An average of seven children and teens are killed with guns in the U.S. every day! The statistics are verifiable and numerous. In an effort to reduce gun violence in our community, I am a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
 
The New Mexico legislature is currently considering legislation to require expanded background checks for gun sales in our state.

State Auditor Tim Keller Releases Third Annual Fund Balance Report, Recommendations

on March 17, 2017 - 8:14am
New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) released the third annual Fund Balance Report that tallies unspent funds in government accounts.
 
The OSA Government Accountability Office compiled data from the most recent financial audits of 431 funds in 91 state agencies. Most of the dollars reside in funds for thousands of specific projects and programs.

Prescribed Burn Planned On Santa Fe National Forest

on March 17, 2017 - 8:06am
SFNF News:
 
SANTA FE  Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are planning a prescribed burn near the community of Mesa Poleo on the Coyote Ranger District. 
 
Hand ignitions could begin as early as Tuesday, March 21, if conditions, including weather, winds and air quality, are favorable. 
 
The SFNF hopes to treat 300 acres of hazardous fuels located 1.5 miles southwest of the community of Mesa Poleo and 3 miles southwest of Coyote. Fire crews expect to treat 50 to 100 acres per day as long as conditions remain favorable.

Letter To The Editor: Support Legislation To Require Background Checks For All Gun Sales

on March 17, 2017 - 7:56am
By NINA SAMMONS
Santa Fe
 
As a voter in Sen. Liz Stefanics’ district, I encourage my fellow residents to call our legislators to support legislation to require background checks for all gun sales.
 
The law requires sales from gun shows or the internet to include a background check on the buyer ensuring that guns don’t end up in the hands of criminals or those with a dangerous mental illness. Polling has shown that this policy is supported by 87 percent of New Mexicans and 84% of New Mexican gun owners.
 
Please contact your legislators and let them know you support background checks on

Heinrich Calls On Trump To Address Wiretap Claim

on March 17, 2017 - 7:53am
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement calling on President Trump to come clean on his unsubstantiated accusation that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower prior to last year's election:
 
“If President Trump wanted to put this to bed, he’d come clean with whatever ‘evidence’ he claims to have.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Bill Moves To House Floor

on March 16, 2017 - 4:45pm
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE The House Health and Human Services Committee has passed legislation to prevent opioid drug overdoses in New Mexico. House Bill 370, sponsored by Reps. Sarah Maestas Barnes (R-Bernalillo) and Rebecca Dow (R-Grant, Hidalgo and Sierra), passed by a vote of 6 to 0.
 
The bill aims to increase awareness and access to naloxone. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, blocks the effects of opioids and is used to treat suspected opioid overdoses.

Police Issue Statewide Arrest Warrant On Second Bealls Shoplifting Suspect Stephanie Garcia

on March 16, 2017 - 4:35pm

LAPD News:

Los Alamos police report that they have identified the second suspect involved in the March 9 shoplifting incident at Bealls and the hit and run case involving a silver Volvo that left a local man with minor injuries. A search warrant was obtained and executed on that Volvo, according to police. 

The name of the second shoplifting suspect is Stephanie Garcia, 31, of Espanola, (no relation to arrested suspect Ashley Garcia) and LAPD Det. Joseph Robinson has obtained a statewide arrest warrant against her for the following charges;

  • Shoplifting (4th Degree Felony)
  • Conspiracy (3rd

Sen. Martin Heinrich: President Trump’s Budget Outline Does Not Reflect Our Core Values And Principles

on March 16, 2017 - 7:56am

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

U.S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich issued the following statement after President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2018 budget outline that cuts $54 billion from non-defense discretionary spending.

The President's budget boosts Defense Department spending by 10 percent, cuts the State Department by 28 percent and the Environmental Protection Agency by 25 percent, eliminates funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and provides $1.5 billion for construction of the border wall.

“President Trump’s proposal irresponsibly robs $54

House Passes Ban On Conversion Therapy

on March 16, 2017 - 7:41am

STATE News:

SANTA FE The New Mexico House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 121 Wednesday evening, a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy for individuals under 18 years of age.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Andrés Romero (D-Albuquerque). Conversion therapy, aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, has been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association.

“This discredited practice is not based on medical science. It’s based on dangerous misinformation,” Rep.

Ethics Commission Proposal Advances To Senate

on March 16, 2017 - 7:14am
Rep. Jim Dines (R-Bernalillo). Courtesy photo
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE ― March 9 the House of Representatives unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 8, a proposal to establish an independent ethics commission in New Mexico. HJR 8 is sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines (R-Bernalillo).
 
HJR 8 would amend the New Mexico Constitution to create a seven-member independent commission, no more than three of which may belong to the same political party, to investigate and adjudicate ethics complaints against state officers and employees in the legislative and executive branches of government.

Freedom Of The Press ... Sunshine Week Editorial

on March 16, 2017 - 6:35am
By CHRIS WOOD, President
New Mexico Press Association

Recognizing that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, the intent of the legislature in enacting the Inspection of Public Records Act is to ensure, and it is declared to be the public policy of this state, that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officers and employees.

State Police Request Assistance Identifying Suspects

on March 15, 2017 - 5:06pm

Anyone with information regarding the possible identity of these subjects is asked to contact the New Mexico State Police at 575.382.2500. Courtesy/NMSP 

NMSP News:

A First Financial Credit Union debit card was stolen from Fort Bayard Medical Center in Bayard, N.M.

This debit card was used throughout New Mexico including the following cities:
  • Santa Fe;
  • Silver City;
  • Clayton;
  • Las Vegas;
  • Truth or Consequences;
  • Williamsburg;
  • Deming;
  • Roswell; and
  • Las Cruces. 

Anyone with information regarding the possible identity of these subjects is asked to contact the New Mexico State Police at 575.382.2500.

Bill Promoting Use Of Local Inspectors Gets Concurrence And Awaits Governor’s Signature

on March 15, 2017 - 2:00pm
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  March 14, the House of Representatives unanimously concurred with the Senate on House Bill 305. HB 305 Sponsored by Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Deming), a strong advocate for agriculture, would ensure that our local farms are inspected by local inspectors from the New Mexico department of agriculture (NMDA), rather than federal inspectors from the FDA.
 
This increase in certified inspectors not only allows agribusinesses to grow, but it increases opportunities for them to expand into value-added enterprises that require additional inspectors.
 
“I am thrilled that

Egolf Hails Passage Of Sweeping Ethics Reform

on March 15, 2017 - 1:56pm
HOUSE DEMOCRATS  News:
 
SANTA FE  After extensive work on both sides of the aisle, the New Mexico House passed a bipartisan resolution that would bring sweeping ethics reform to New Mexico government.
 
HJR 8, which gives voters the opportunity to decide on the creation of an independent State Ethics Commission, passed unanimously 66-0.
 
“The people of New Mexico have asked year after year for transparency and accountability, and the New Mexico House answered their call tonight,” said New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) “I was pleased to work with the sponsor on needed

Udall, Heinrich Invite Energy Secretary Rick Perry To Visit New Mexico National Laboratories

on March 15, 2017 - 10:06am

U.S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry inviting him to visit Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

“The work at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories is critical to meeting DOE’s mission of assuring national security through stewardship of the nuclear weapons stockpile, nuclear non-proliferation, and homeland security,” wrote the senators.

Bill To Help Workers Care For Sick, Elderly Relatives Heads To Senate Floor

on March 15, 2017 - 9:18am

STATE News:
  • Caregiver Leave Act Allows Employees to Use Already-Provided Sick Leave for Caregiving

Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s Caregiver Leave Act, HB 86, is headed to the Senate floor for a final vote after it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, moving the widely supported bill, which would allow workers to also use sick leave that is already provided by their employers to cover absences for caregiving, one step closer to the governor’s desk.

“Too many New Mexicans are in the Sandwich Generation,” Armstrong said. “My kids are grown, but my 88-year-old mother lives with me.

Letter To The Editor: Proposal For Workable Firearms Transfer Background Check Law

on March 15, 2017 - 9:06am

By KHALIL SPENCER
Los Alamos

A couple of us have thought of a background check proposal that might accomplish most or all of what we really want but with far less acrimony. So here is an idea if this is to be revisited again and assuming for the moment that the present bills are not resurrected. I’ve stolen some ideas from a colleague (with thanks) but modified them with my own additions, so any rotten fruit should be thrown at me alone. Here would be the basis of the law.

1. It is of material and social benefit to society to verify that a person unknown to you is not a prohibited person

Heinrich: GOP Healthcare Plan Disastrous As Expected

on March 15, 2017 - 8:29am
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
 
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, released the following statement after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the GOP healthcare plan.
 
According to CBO estimates, 14 million would be uninsured by 2018 and 26 million by 2026.
 
“The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that the Republican healthcare bill will be as disastrous as we expected.

Udall Celebrates Sunshine Week By Advocating Open Government, Defending Free Press

on March 15, 2017 - 8:09am

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall

U.S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, will today mark Sunshine Week — a national initiative to educate the public on the importance of an open and transparent government — by advocating for transparency in our government, defending the critical role of the free press, and calling for campaign finance reform to shine a light on dark money in politics.

Starting at 10 a.m.

New Teacher Evaluation System Passes Senate

on March 14, 2017 - 5:40pm

STATE News:

 

SANTA FE – On a strongly bipartisan basis, the New Mexico Senate today passed legislation to develop a new system for evaluating teachers and principals that relies less heavily on students’ scores on controversial standardized tests. By a vote of 30-7, with both Democratic and Republican support, SB 34 was passed by the Senate. 

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, also was amended to include language offered by Republican Sen. Craig Brandt from the historic Senate override earlier in the day of the Governor’s veto of teacher sick days legislation.

Bill To Allow Pharmacists To Dispense Interchangeable Biosimilar Medicines Passes Senate

on March 14, 2017 - 3:07pm
NM SENATE News:
 
The New Mexico Senate on Monday unanimously passed Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s bill, HB 260, which will allow pharmacists in the state, when filling a prescription for a biologic medicine, to dispense less-expensive biosimilar medicines once the Federal Drug Administration has determined that the medicine is interchangeable with an existing biologic treatment.
 
“With biological products becoming increasingly important in treating medical conditions from cancer to rheumatoid arthritis, and with the FDA currently considering several biosimilar products for ‘interchangeable’

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