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New Mexico News Plus

December 31, 2015

State’s new work rules for food aid take effect Jan. 1 -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration has moved forward with changes to state rules that will require thousands of New Mexicans to complete paid or unpaid work in order to receive government food assistance.

Publication of the new rules Wednesday in the state register ends an often contentious process in which members of nonprofits, religious organizations and the public voiced loud objections to the stricter regulations drafted by the New Mexico Human Services Department.

Starting Friday, Jan. 1, most childless adults without disabilities between the ages of 18 and 49 who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program now must prove to the state that they spend 80 hours a month in an approved work activity in order to continue receiving monthly benefits. Participants who fail to meet that standard can only get benefits for three months out of a three-year period. -- 12/31/2015


New Mexico lowers speed limits on unmarked county roads -- KRQE News

New Mexico drivers will have to ease that foot off the gas pedal when traveling country roads with no posted speed limit or risk a ticket.

A law going into effect on New Year’s Day reduces the speed limit on unmarked county roads from 75 mph to 55 mph. -- 12/31/2015


Martinez, lawmakers haven't sent Real ID letter -- Ruidoso News

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and state lawmakers have not sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeking an extension on REAL ID requirements.

Nearly two weeks after federal officials said New Mexico could get an extension if Martinez and lawmakers sent a letter, no agreement has been drafted amid a looming Jan. 10 deadline.

Federal officials want Martinez and lawmakers to say they will pass a REAL ID compliant law during the next session, which begins Jan. 19.  -- 12/31/2015


Draft CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain -- CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is publishing new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The agency is working for timely release of the guideline while ensuring that the development process:

  • Meets scientific standards
  • Includes expert consultation
  • Allows for appropriate stakeholders to provide input
  • Facilitates partnership development to enhance dissemination and uptake

Written comments must be received on or before January 13, 2016.

December 28, 2015

Declassified Cold War Document Reveals Nuclear Targets -- NPR

The world of "Doctor Strangelove" resurfaced when for the first time the National Archives released a list of planned targets for U.S. nuclear attack. This document is a Cold War relic. It identifies possible ground zeros in Europe, China and Russia for U.S. bombers. The document from the 1950s was studied and then recently published by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. -- 12/26/2015


New Mexico's population outflow continues, according to Census -- Albuquerque Business First

New Mexico saw another decline in its population over the last year, according to state population estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

New Mexico's overall population declined by 458 people from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015, or .02 percent, the Census Bureau reported.

New Mexico's net population loss is startling when compared to neighboring states, all of which land in the top 10 for growth in the Census study. -- 12/23/2015

December 21, 2015

What you need to know about Obama’s latest student loan plan -- Santa Fe New Mexican

On Thursday, millions of Americans became eligible to take advantage of the government’s most generous student loan repayment plan.

The repayment program, known as Revised Pay as You Earn or REPAYE, caps borrowers’ monthly bills to 10 percent of their income and forgives the debt after 20 years of payment. Up until now, those terms were only available for people with especially low income relative to their debt and who took out their loans after 2007. But the Obama administration opened the program to anyone with what’s known as a Direct federal loan, regardless of their income or when they borrowed. -- 12/20/2015


NM has nation’s highest unemployment -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico had the highest unemployment rate in the nation in November, while growth in the number of new jobs in the state was flat, according to labor figures released Friday.

The state’s rate of 6.8 percent for November was unchanged from the month before, but New Mexico’s failure to improve pushed it to the No. 1 spot, according to the new figures. Last month, West Virginia held the No. 1 title, but its figures have since improved.

Nationwide, the economy generated a robust 211,000 jobs last month, and the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 5 percent, a 7-year low, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. -- 12/18/2015


A Critical Step Forward for a Stronger Economy and a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code -- White House Blog

The President signed into law a bipartisan budget agreement that bolsters our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values. While no deal is perfect, this agreement achieves the three key conditions set forward by the President and Congressional Democrats: undoing the harmful cuts known as sequestration, investing equally in both national security and economic growth, and avoiding ideological issues. And it permanently extends vital tax credits benefiting 24 million families a year, as well as key tax cuts for companies investing in innovation and small businesses, while putting hundreds of billions in business tax breaks on a real path to expiration. -- 12/18/2015


December 24, 2015

Feds may postpone enforcement of Real ID -- Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would delay enforcement against the use of New Mexico driver’s licenses as identification if the governor and legislative leaders agreed on a fix by Jan. 10, members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation said Wednesday.

As it stands, the state’s licenses would no longer be sufficient ID at some federal installations, including military bases, as of Jan. 10 because the licenses don’t comply with the federal Real ID law. -- 12/24/2015


New Mexico regulators suspend proposed rate increase -- KOB News/Associated Press

State regulators have voted to suspend a proposed rate increase for customers of a northern New Mexico electric utility.

The Public Regulation Commission made the decision Wednesday to suspend Kit Carson Electric Cooperative's proposed increase given that more than 100 protests were filed. -- 12/23/2015

December 17, 2015

State regulators approve PNM power plan -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Public Service Company of New Mexico will be allowed to go ahead with its plan to close two of the four coal-burning units at the massive San Juan Generating Station near Farmington and replace the lost capacity with more coal-generated power from another unit at the plant, as well as nuclear power from Arizona, natural gas from a proposed nearby facility and a small amount of solar power.

In the utility case that has taken more than two years to decide, the state Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to approve a compromise agreement over PNM’s plan for the aging, coal-burning power plant. -- 12/17/2015