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WZ tf Political News – Page 2

Political News

Cannabis Control Division Calls For Additional Funding

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Post file photo

By DANIEL J. CHACÓN
The Santa Fe New Mexican

A lot is riding on the state’s new Cannabis Control Division.

Created when New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana for adults last year, the fledgling agency has been handed the responsibility of standing up a new industry elected officials sold as being a boon for the state, from creating jobs to raising revenue.

A question from the start — and one that has resurfaced at the Roundhouse — is whether the agency has enough money to carry out the work.

Competing budget proposals have thrust the issue Read More

New Mexico COVID-19 Update Jan. 21: 6,198 New Cases, Totaling 437,934 With 30 Deaths & 330,110 Recovered

SANTA FE — New Mexico state health officials announced Friday 6,198 additional COVID-19 cases.

Los Alamos County reported 87 new cases today, bringing the total to 2,019 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. (County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.)

This update includes 30 new deaths in New Mexico related to COVID-19 and a 7-Day positivity rate of 29.0 percent.

Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

  • 1,492 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 6 new cases in Catron
Read More

Study Finds New Mexico Public Defenders Office Needs 67 Percent More Lawyers To Be ‘Effective’

Public Defender Commission Chairman Thomas J. Clear III

By PHAEDRA HAYWOOD
The Santa Fe New Mexican

The state agency that provides legal representation for indigent defendants is drastically understaffed, according to a recently released study, which says the Law Offices of the Public Defender needs 67 percent more lawyers that it has to provide “reasonably effective assistance of counsel” as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

That’s 602 more attorneys — more than double the 295 the agency currently has.

“It frightening,” Public Defender Commission Chairman Thomas J. Clear Read More

New Mexico Republican Party Files Lawsuit Alleging New Congressional Redistricting Map Is Political Gerrymandering

By ROBERT NOTT
Santa Fe New Mexican

The Republican Party of New Mexico and six other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Friday in the 5th Judicial District Court alleging a new map of the state’s three congressional districts, approved last month by the heavily Democratic Legislature, is “a political gerrymander” that weakens the voting power of residents in southeastern communities.

The suit says legislators “ran roughshod” over traditional redistricting methods to give Democrats an advantage.

Communities of interest were split around the state, according to the suit, but particularly in the Read More

Legislative Roundup: 27 Days Remaining In 2022 Session

Legislative Roundup
The Santa Fe New Mexican

Excess contribution: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s reelection campaign has resolved a complaint over a donation from a Denver-based mineral company that exceeded New Mexico’s contribution limits.

New Mexicans for Michelle, the governor’s campaign committee, paid a $4,200 excess contribution to the public election fund, the State Ethics Commission announced Friday.

“The candidate committee confirmed Thursday that it had sent a check for $4,200 to the State of New Mexico, for deposit into the public election fund,” Read More

FTA Tribal Transit Program Awards $830,000 To Three Northern New Mexico Native Tribes

FTA News:

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded three northern New Mexico native tribes $830,000 in grant money for projects that support transit services for American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages in rural areas. 

The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) submitted grant requests on behalf of the Jicarilla Apache Nation which will receive a total of $565,580, and Taos Pueblo which was awarded $200,000.

Additionally, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo will receive $64,323 for their request to secure funding to replace a vehicle that exceeded its useful life.

Jicarilla Read More

Chart 576: Los Alamos COVID Diagnoses At All-time High

This chart shows the seven-day average number of COVID-19 diagnoses per 100,000 people versus date nationwide, statewide and countywide. On a scale of 0 to 100, the diagnoses index quantifies the current level of diagnoses by using a comparison with daily levels since the start of the pandemic (the higher the index, the more severe the current state of the pandemic is). At an all-time high, the number of diagnoses in Los Alamos is higher than 100 percent of preceding days. Sources: New York Times and New Mexico Department of Health. Created by Eli Ben-Naim Read More

Eight Residents Apply For Vacant County Council Seat

COUNTY News:

Eight residents have applied to fill a seat on Los Alamos County Council left vacant by the Jan. 1 resignation of James Robinson.

Counci will interview the candidates during the regular council meeting that begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Council will likely appoint one of the candidates at tht meeting.

The candidates include:

  • Steven Booth;
  • Brandi Engeman;
  • Andrew Fraser;
  • David Hampton;
  • Melanee Hand;
  • Keith Lepsch;
  • Antonio Maggiore; and
  • Aaron Walker.

Other agenda items for Tuesday’s meeting include:

  • Introduction of Code Ordinance No. 02-325, which pertains to sewage service
Read More

Los Alamos County Honored At NMC Legislative Conference For 29 Consecutive Years Of Financial Excellence

New Mexico Counties and State Auditor Brian Colón selected Los Alamos County as a recipient for the annual Audit and Accountability Awards presented Thursday at the NMC Legislative Conference. From left, Couunty Accounts Payables Nicholle Cordova, Accounting Operations Manager Reese Chavarria-Quam and Colón. Chief Financial Officer Helene Perraglio attended virtually. Courtesy/NMC

NMC News:

SANTA FE — Los Alamos County was honored at an event Thursday for continuing to excel in excellent financial management with zero findings and an unmodified opinion; the county also received Read More

Congressional Delegation Announces Over $60 Million Allocation For Water Infrastructure In New Mexico

New Mexico Delegation News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) and Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is allocating over $60 million to New Mexico projects from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to increase climate resilience and make long overdue water infrastructure improvements, as well as additional funds to help New Mexico and Tribes recover and become more resilient to natural disasters.

The funding is part of the Biden administration’s Read More

Push To Eliminate New Mexico Income Tax On Social Security Benefits Gaining Traction At Roundhouse

Republican Sen. David Gallegos of Eunice

By DANIEL J. CHACÓN
The Santa Fe New Mexican

The push to eliminate New Mexico’s income tax on Social Security benefits is gaining traction at the Roundhouse.

Two senators, Democrat Michael Padilla of Albuquerque and Republican David Gallegos of Eunice, introduced separate bills Thursday that would eliminate the tax on Social Security income.

Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque, previously introduced a bill to repeal the tax, but it would still affect higher earners and increase the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to make up the loss in state Read More

New Mexico Ethics Watch Releases New Report On Possible Effects Of Lender Industry’s Lobbying Efforts

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Post file photo

By ROBERT NOTT and DANIEL J. CHACÓN
The Santa Fe New Mexican

It has become a cycle of despair for low-income residents with poor credit scores: They take out a high-interest installment loan to tide them over in tough times and soon accumulate an unmanageable load.

They pay off old debt with new loans at rates of up 175 percent.

For years, state lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to introduce legislation capping the interest rate for such loans at 36 percent. Their efforts have failed repeatedly. An attempt last year to forge a compromise — with a 99 percent Read More

Legislative Roundup: 29 Days Remaining In 2022 Session

New Mexico House of Representative staffers wait to be dismissed Thursday as bills were read into the record at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Jim Weber/SFNM

Legislative Roundup
The Santa Fe New Mexican

Keeping the lights on: The so-called feed bill, which funds the operations of the Legislature during a session, received unanimous approval from the Senate.

“This is the bill that feeds the paychecks and takes care of agencies and our interim travel and everything that we do within the Legislature,” Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, told his colleagues before Read More

New Mexico COVID-19 Update Jan. 20, 2022: 6,010 New Cases, Totaling 431,887 With 24 Deaths & 329,179 Recovered

SANTA FE — New Mexico state health officials announced 6,010 new COVID-19 cases today.

Los Alamos County reported 128 new cases today, bringing the total to 1,941 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. (County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.)

This update includes 24 new deaths in New Mexico related to COVID-19 and a 7-Day positivity rate of 28.7 percent.

Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

1549 new cases in Bernalillo County
2 new cases in Catron County Read More

Public Can See District Spending On ‘Open Books’ Website … New Transparency Portal Responds To Legislation

NMPED News: 

SANTA FE — New Mexicans can now access detailed financial information about state-chartered schools, school districts and regional education cooperatives with a few clicks of a computer mouse.

Open Books is the Public Education Department’s new online financial reporting system, launched in response to Senate Bill 96, passed in the regular session in 2020.

The legislation appropriated $3 million for the department to develop an accessible financial reporting system that would allow comparison between schools, districts and regional education cooperatives on measures Read More

Governor Asks Legislature To Exempt Social Security Benefits From State’s Personal Income Tax

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Post file photo

From the Office of the Governor:

New Mexico is one of just 13 states that tax the benefit 

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today the introduction of Senate Bill 108, legislation sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla that would exempt Social Security benefits from the state’s personal income tax.

“New Mexico is one of only a few states that taxes Social Security,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Ending this tax lifts one more burden from the shoulders of New Mexico seniors living on fixed incomes.”

Currently, Social Security benefits that are subject Read More

Respect New Mexico Educators Rally At Roundhouse To Highlight Statewide Teacher Vacancy Crisis Jan. 23

AFT News:

SANTA FE — Respect New Mexico Educators will hold a rally noon Sunday, Jan. 23 at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

The purpose of the rally is to highlight the on-going crisis regarding educator vacancies in New Mexico public schools.

Specifically, this rally will seek to highlight and educate Santa Fe lawmakers and the public about the need for more highly qualified and well-trained educators to enter the profession in addition to the necessity to make significant policy changes to keep veteran educators in our schools and university.

This rally is occurring during an unprecedented time Read More

New Mexico Clean Fuels Coalition Applauds Senate Bill 14

New Mexico Clean Fuels News:

ALBUQUERQUE — The New Mexico Clean Fuels Coalition announced its support for the proposed New Mexico Clean Fuel Standard Act, SB 14, a priority bill of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that will be the state’s next step in reducing carbon emissions, fighting climate change, and developing a new economy in clean fuel production.

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart (D – Bernalillo) and Rep. Nathan Small (D-Doña Ana), would require cleaner fuels for our cars and trucks, while establishing incentives for manufacturers of transportation fuels to produce Read More

Heinrich Applauds Progress On Recovering America’s Wildlife Act As House Bill Advances

From the Office of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is applauding the House Natural Resources Committee for advancing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by a vote of 29 to 15.

Sen. Heinrich’s landmark bipartisan legislation, that now has over 32 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, will be among the largest, most significant investments in wildlife and habitat conservation.

“Preserving the health of our outdoors and wildlife has proven time and time again to be one of the most successful, nonpartisan issues to advance through Congress,”  Read More

Food Insecurity In Indian Country Online Discussion Today

Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF), Food Research and Action Center, and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative host live discussion on food insecurity in Indian County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy/NAAF

NAAF News:

The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF), Food Research and Action Center, and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative are hosting a virtual event at 2 p.m. (ET) today to discuss findings and recommendations from a recent report.

The report finds that 48 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives surveyed indicated that sometimes or often Read More

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