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February 27, 2015

NM Senate panel OKs bill to allow hemp farming for research -- Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill 94 to allow New Mexico farmers to grow an industrial version of hemp for research only has passed a third Senate panel. The Senate Finance Committee Thursday approved Albuquerque Democrat Sen. Cisco McSorley's legislation. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act now moves to a vote of the full Senate. The proposal would establish fees and set up state regulations for the processing of hemp for research and development, not for sale. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high. Many products made from hemp, such as oils and clothing, are legal. -- 2/27/15


Bill to keep Daylight Savings Time year-round advances in New Mexico Legislature -- Las Cruces Sun News

A Senate committee has passed Senate Bill 377 to keep New Mexicans from springing forward and falling back every year when it's time to adjust clocks. The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-1 Thursday to advance Sen. Cliff Pirtle's bill that would keep the state on Daylight Savings Time year-round. The Republican farmer from Roswell says changing the clock twice a year is an unnecessary inconvenience. He says farmers and ranchers work from sunrise to sundown no matter what the clock says. -- 2/27/15


Bill limiting lottery scholarships and boosting prize fund advances in Senate -- Las Cruces Sun News

Money from the New Mexico Lottery that is dedicated to college scholarships would be limited to a flat amount under Senate Bill 355 that is headed to the full Senate. The Senate Finance Committee voted 7-2 Thursday night for the measure, which is intended to invigorate lottery ticket sales by pouring more money into prizes and advertising. In addition, the bill would clarify that debit cards can be used to buy lottery tickets. The sponsor, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, declined requests from other committee members to put a provision to allow credit-card purchases of lottery tickets back in the bill. At the request of other senators, Smith removed a section from his original bill that would have allowed credit-card purchases of up to $20 for lottery tickets. -- 2/27/15


Senate to hear bill allowing home delivery of beer, wine -- Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill 503 allowing home delivery of beer and wine with food purchases is heading to the full Senate after being resurrected from the dead Wednesday night. Thirty-two states already allow restaurants and companies that make home deliveries of food to offer beer and wine as well, said Justin Greene of Dashing Delivery in Santa Fe. He served as the expert witness for the bill's sponsor, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. Ortiz y Pino said the bill would merely create the option for local communities to sell licenses to food companies allowing delivery of up to two six-packs of beer and two bottles of wine with a meal purchase of at least $20. Deliveries could only be made to a residential address or a hotel. -- 2/27/15


New Mexico Senate panel punts on stream commission billLas Cruces Sun News

Supporters of a measure that would limit the authority of a powerful water commission and require more transparency surrounding its actions decided Thursday to go back to the drawing board. After an hour-long debate about Senate Bill 542, sponsor, Republican Sen. Sander Rue, agreed to rework the proposal and return to the Senate Conservation Committee next week. At issue is the Interstate Stream Commission, which has been criticized in recent months over a decision to pursue federal funding under the Arizona Water Settlements Act for a possible diversion project along the Gila River. Supporters say drought-stricken New Mexico has a rare chance to tap a new source of water, but critics argue the effort could end up costing the state and water users in southwestern New Mexico $1 billion. -- 2/27/15


New Mexico bill would create website to help consumers make informed healthcare decisions -- Las Cruces Sun News

The issue is that healthcare eats up 17 cents of every dollar New Mexicans earn and costs keep going up. Many New Mexicans who are now buying health insurance on the open market are getting plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles, making them suddenly conscious of how much health care they must pay for out of pocket. Senate Bill 474, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, and cosponsored by Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, would create a "health information system" to help consumers, policy-makers and health plan operators make more informed decisions about when, where and how to access healthcare. -- 2/25/15


New Mexico Senate committee blocks mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists -- Las Cruces Sun News

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 4-3 across party lines Tuesday night to block a mandatory helmet law proposed by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. Only motorcycle riders and passengers younger than 18 must wear a helmet under existing law. Committee members, on the same 4-3 vote, also defeated Ortiz y Pino's related bill to charge a $692 registration fee to each motorcyclist who rides without a helmet. The fee for helmeted riders is $15. Two Democrats and two Republicans joined together to stop both bills (Senate Bill 308 and Senate Bill 327), saying they couldn't ignore the importance of free choice. -- 2/25/15

February 24, 2015

Obama Wants Rules That Force Brokers To Put Clients' Interests First -- NPR's the two-way

President Obama wants to change the way brokers and investment advisers offer financial advice, saying the current system leads to high fees that erode returns on investments.

At present, brokers work under the suitability standard. This, in essence, means that while making a recommendation, brokers must reasonably believe that a product is "suitable" for a client. The Obama administration wants to change that. It wants to impose what is known as a fiduciary duty on brokers. That means the brokers would have to put their clients' interests over their own.

This, the administration says, would prevent financial advisers from steering clients to investments with high costs, hidden fees and low returns. -- 2/23/2015


New Mexico bill aims to create board and fund to eradicate bullyingLas Cruces Sun News

A committee of New Mexico lawmakers has approved an anti-bullying bill spurred by the 2013 suicide of a teenager who was bullied at school. Senate Bill 381 calls for the creation of a five-member board to oversee grant applications to eradicate bullying in New Mexico schools and colleges. It garnered bi-partisan support Monday in the Senate Rules Committee with a unanimous vote. The legislation, called the Carlos Vigil Memorial Act, would create a fund to be administered by the University Of New Mexico Board Of Regents. - - 2/24/15


Senate panel tables bill to allow adjunct teachers- - Las Cruces Sun News

Democratic state senators stopped Senate Bill 228 Monday night that would have allowed public schools to hire part-time adjunct teachers. This means another initiative on public education by Republicans is probably dead. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives last week had approved a bill for adjunct teachers on a 31-21 vote. - - 2/24/15


70th Anniversary Tour of the Trinity Nuclear Test SiteNew Mexico Museum of Space History

On July 16, 1945, a horrific explosion in the New Mexico desert marked the beginning of the end of World War II. The world’s first atomic bomb was detonated on that day at Trinity Site, on the north end of what is now White Sands Missile Range.

In recognition of the 70th anniversary of Trinity Site, the New Mexico Museum of Space History is hosting a motorcoach tour on Saturday, April 4. Museum curator Sue Taylor will accompany guests on the coach, giving an in-depth talk on the bomb, its history and the effect it had on the world. Once on site, guests enjoy a brown bag lunch and a guided walking tour with Sue. On the way back, Sue’s debriefing is highlighted with a special showing of the 1954 classic film The Atomic Kid starring Mickey Rooney. Once at the museum, guests will be treated to a guided tour followed by reserved seating for an exclusive showing of Trinity: The Atomic Bomb Movie in the Tombaugh Theater.


February 16, 2015

FAA drone rule proposal: What they allow, who benefits, who doesn't -- Los Angeles Times

The Federal Aviation Administration over the weekend released proposed rules for small drones for commercial use. Some have said the move has the potential to dramatically change the nation's airspace for years to come.

The proposed rules, which at times are outlined in vague terms, must undergo a phase of public and federal review, and would not take effect until 2017 at the earliest. -- 2/16/2015


Big Picture: Mapping New Oil And Gas Development -- KUNM News

When the US Bureau of Land Management's Farmington District Manager, Victoria Barr, came into the KUNM studio for the Call In Show, she brought a brand-new map with her. She sent along the PDF, for those who would like to take a look at the active leases and special designated areas near Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

You can view and download the map by clicking here

We’re also excited to show off a new map – a work in progress – that Larry Heard, with the New Mexico Community Data Collaborative, made for KUNM's Drilling Deep project. -- 2/14/2015


2 House Dems join GOP in passing repeal of immigrant license lawLas Cruces Sun News

The state House of Representatives voted roughly along party lines Thursday to pass House Bill 32 that would repeal the law that allows the state to issue driver's licenses to people who can't prove their citizenship. As has been the case in other House debates this year over controversial legislation, Republicans, knowing they had the numbers to pass the bill, let Democrats do most of the talking during a three-hour debate. -- 2/13/2015


House panel advances bill banning smoking, vaping in car with kidsLas Cruces Sun News

A bill that would outlaw smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes in cars carrying children cleared its first hurdle Thursday. Members of the Health Committee in the state House of Representatives voted 6-3 to advance House Bill 148, even though a few Democrats said the proposed $250 fine for a violation is too high. -- 2/16/2015


New Mexico House approves bill ending social promotionLas Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico House of Representatives has voted to approve legislation that would end the social promotion of third-graders who are not proficient readers. After three hours of debate Wednesday night, House Bill 41 passed 38-30 with one Democrat siding with Republicans in the majority. The legislation now moves to the Senate. The measure by Republican Rep. Monica Youngblood, of Albuquerque, calls for retaining third-graders who are not reading proficiently and giving them intensive remediation. -- 2/13/2016

February 19, 2015

Bill would give less weight to tests in teacher evaluationsLas Cruces Sun News

Less weight would be given to standardized tests in New Mexico teacher evaluations under House Bill 144 that passed the House Education Committee. The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. James Smith of Sandia Park passed on an 8-3 vote Tuesday. It now goes to the full House for a vote. – 2/19/15


GOP proposes three-strike mandatory sentencing billLas Cruces Sun News

Offenders convicted of three violent crimes would face mandatory life sentences in prison under a new proposal in the New Mexico Legislature House Bill 453. The measure introduced by House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, joins a growing list of tough-on-crime legislation proposed by the new Republican majority in the House. Already, the caucus has pitched proposals to stiffen penalties or crack down on sexual exploitation of children, child abuse, food-stamp fraud, voyeurism, drunken driving, domestic violence and violent crime. -- 2/18/15


Bill would add WMD to state explosives lawLas Cruces Sun News

Under federal law, the use of a weapon of mass destruction — or threatening to use such a weapon — is punishable by up to life in prison or death. But several states, including Kansas, Idaho, Connecticut, New York and California, have their own WMD laws, and a similar measure is making its way through the New Mexico Senate. The Senate Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Senate Bill 180, which would make it a crime to use a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapon in the state. -- 2/18/15


Bill calls for 1980 prison riot officers to be compensated– Las Cruces Sun News

It's been 35 years since one of the nation's deadliest prison riots erupted in New Mexico, and one lawmaker wants to compensate the guards who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. The legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eliseo Alcon of Milan is headed for its first committee this week. The House Bill 435, calls for setting aside $1.5 million for the state Corrections Department to compensate officers who were involved. -- 2/18/2015

February 10, 2015

CBP officials stepping up effort to prevent diseased, pest-infected flowers from entering El Paso, U.S.El Paso Times

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have stepped up efforts as Valentine's Day approaches to prevent pest-infected and diseased flowers and other plants from entering the country. El Paso area CBP agriculture specialists prevented more than 50,310 quarantine material, including fruits, vegetables, plants and plant parts from entering the country in the 2014 fiscal year. Among those, 3,751 were found to be pest-infected, officials said. -- 2/10/2015


New Mexico House approves bills protecting children– Las Cruces Sun News

A pair of bills bolstering protections for New Mexico's children has passed the House of Representatives. One closes a loophole in existing law and makes it a crime to send naked pictures of people to anyone under 16. The other makes it mandatory for parents or guardians to receive court-ordered family services when there is strong evidence of child neglect or abuse, even when the victim is not taken into state custody. House Bill 125 sponsored by Belen Republican Kelly Fajardoand approved Wednesday now move to the Senate for consideration. -- 2/5/2015


Los Alamos National Lab creates website for measles fight– Las Cruces Sun News

The Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a website designed to help public health officials in their fight against measles and other infectious diseases. KOAT-TV reports lab scientists recently compiled information into what's called the Biosurveillance Gateway. Gateway project director Alina Deshpande says the website will offer "credible information" and will be the most comprehensive place online for the latest research. -- 2/5/2015


New Mexico House panel OKs e-cigarette sales ban to minorsLas Cruces Sun News

A New Mexico House panel has passed House Bill 42 that would outlaw e-cigarette sales to minors. The House Health Committee approved Thursday a proposal that would add electronic cigarettes to the state's Tobacco Products Act. Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, sponsored the bill. Battery-powered e-cigarettes heat a liquid solution, usually containing nicotine, to create vapor that users inhale. -- 2/5/2015


New Mexico Senate panel Oks drone hunting ban bill– Las Cruces Sun News

A New Mexico Senate panel has voted to approve a bill that officially would ban the use of drones for hunting. The Conservation Committee voted 9-0 on Tuesday to move the proposal. Sen. Howie Morales sponsored the bill that outlaws unmanned devices used to hunt game. -- 2/4/2015


New Mexico House votes to clarify duty to report child abuse- Las Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico House of Representatives has passed legislation that would clarify a law requiring the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect to authorities. The bill by Santa Fe Democrat Brian Egolf removes reference to the 10 categories of people, including physicians, nurses and teachers, who were previously specified in law as having to contact authorities about suspected abuse. -- 2/4/2015