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February 15, 2017

County to aid Verde Transmission Line review -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe County will participate as a “cooperating agency” in the federal government’s anticipated environmental review of a Texas company’s proposal to build a 33-mile power line between Alcalde in Rio Arriba County and a substation on Old Buckman Road near Santa Fe.

In the role of a cooperating agency, the county will provide the BLM with “data, analysis, and expertise regarding Santa Fe County zoning and ordinances,” according to a memo presented to commissioners. The county also would review the environmental impact statement. -- 2/15/2017

 

Medical marijuana reforms clear NM SenateLas Cruces Sun News

Revisions to New Mexico’s medical marijuana program are advancing in the New Mexico Legislature that would make room for larger crops to satisfy demand and broaden the use of cannabis as a treatment for dependence on other drugs. The New Mexico state Senate approved revisions Monday to the state’s 2007 medical cannabis law sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque. SB 177 now moves to the House of Representatives. – 2/14/2017

 

New Mexico looks to promote breastfeeding from prison- Las Cruces Sun News

A proposal to encourage incarcerated mothers to provide breast milk to their infant children won the endorsement Monday of a panel of lawmakers. HB 277 sponsored by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, would require a new breastfeeding policy for all correctional facilities in the state, with provisions for women to pump and store breast milk for same-day delivery to infants or toddlers on the outside. – 2/14/2017

 

White House posts wrong versions of Trump's orders on its website -- USA Today

The White House has posted inaccurate texts of President Trump's own executive orders on the White House website, raising further questions about how thorough the Trump administration has been in drafting some of his most controversial actions.

A USA TODAY review of presidential documents found at least five cases where the version posted on the White House website doesn't match the official version sent to the Federal Register. The differences include minor grammatical changes, missing words and paragraph renumbering — but also two cases where the original text referred to inaccurate or non-existent provisions of law.

By law, the Federal Register version is the legally controlling language. But it can often take several days for the order to be published, meaning that the public must often rely on what the White House puts out — and that's sometimes inaccurate. -- 2/15/2017

February 10, 2017

Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss -- New York Times

A federal appeals panel on Thursday unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations, a sweeping rebuke of the administration’s claim that the courts have no role as a check on the president. --2/10/2017

 

New Mexico 'daddy diaper' bill advancesLas Cruces Sun News

A bill HB 106 that would require baby changing tables for all newly constructed restrooms in public places has cleared its first hurdle. The New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 4-1 on Thursday to advance the "daddy diaper" measure that would give a helping hand when it comes to diaper changing. - - 2/10/2017

 

Steinborn bill on lobbyist disclosure stallsLas Cruces Sun News

A state Senate committee failed to muster enough votes Wednesday morning to pass bill SB 168 that would fix a transparency loophole the Legislature created last year. But the bill sponsor, Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said he’ll try again to get the measure through the Rules Committee. - - 2/10/2017

 

Bill to boost STEM education advances - Las Cruces Sun News

Legislation that would require the state to adopt national standards for science and math cleared the House Education Committee on an 8-3 vote Wednesday. House Bill 211, sponsored by Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces; G. Andres Romero, D-Albuquerque; and Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, would require the Public Education Department to adopt the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards for New Mexico schools. -- 2/10/2017

 

Lawmakers should end predatory loansLas Cruces Sun News

Charles Horton, founder of the FastBucks loan company, has offered what may be the most unique defense of his industry thus far in what has now become a multi-year effort to restrict predatory lending in New Mexico.

Legislation has been introduced this session by Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, with bill SB 15 and HB 26 D-Albuquerque, to cap interest rates at 36 percent on small loans issued by lenders not federally insured. Interest would include finances charges and any other fees. The bills include a provision allowing for a higher cap if the U.S. prime lending rate exceeds 10 percent. -- 2/10/2017

February 9, 2017

Trump rule chills Energy Dept. nuclear whistleblowers -- Washington Post

The Department of Energy has temporarily halted an Obama administration regulation permitting civil penalties against federal nuclear contractors that retaliate against whistleblowers who report waste, fraud and dangerous conditions.

In procedural rules published in the Federal Register, the Energy Department said the regulation would be frozen from Jan. 31 until March 21 in keeping with President Trump’s “plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the outset of the new Administration.” -- 2/9/2017

 

New Mexico bill to spare wild bears stalls in LegislatureLas Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico Legislature is showing little interest HB 109 in rewriting regulations that can require the euthanizing of wild bears and other wild animals that attack humans to test for rabies. -- 2/9/2017

 

Memorial to halt Chaco area fracking fails in committeeLas Cruces Sun News

A symbolic measure aimed at trying to halt oil and gas drilling around Chaco Cultural National Historical Park has failed to pass out of a New Mexico Legislative panel. The House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee voted 6-6 on Tuesday on HJM 5 about drilling in the greater Chaco area. -- 2/9/2017

February 3, 2017

Facing backlash, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz withdraws bill to transfer federal land to the states -- Washington Post

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) withdrew legislation Thursday that would have transferred 3 million acres of land from federal to state ownership, citing objections from constituents who complained that the move would limit access to public hunting and fishing grounds.

The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would have shifted federal holdings to state governments in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming, prompted an outcry among hunters and anglers’ groups. Introduced three weeks after House Republicans enacted a rule change to make it easier to sell off federal land, the measure prompted two separate rallies in Santa Fe, N.M., and Helena, Mont., this week that drew hundreds of people opposed to the measure. -- 2/2/2017

 

Navajo Nation Seeks Special Recognition Status From UN -- KUNM/Associated Press

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and a tribal delegate are advocating for the Navajo Nation to become an official member of the United Nations.

Navajo Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown said non-governmental organizations and civil societies enjoy the privilege of participating in the United Nations but indigenous nations are limited with regards to their participation. -- 2/3/2017

 

Rail Runner looks to add more weekend riders with expansion -- KOB/Associated Press

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is considering changing its schedule in an effort to expand weekend ridership.

Key changes would include having both weekend days offer a mid-morning train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and be on the same schedule. The last departing train from Santa Fe on the weekend would leave an hour earlier under the proposal, for which the Rail Runner is seeking public comment. -- 2/3/2017

February 2, 2017

NM bill would block border wall -- Albuquerque Journal

President Donald Trump’s plan to build a border wall could run into a roadblock in New Mexico, in the form of more than 22 miles of state-owned land and mineral rights within 600 feet of the border.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers filed legislation [HB 292] this week that would bar state land from being used, sold or transferred to facilitate the construction of the new border wall. If approved, the bill could set up a legal showdown between the state and the federal government. -- 2/2/2017

 

Dunn pitches border land swap to Trump -- Santa Fe New Mexican

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn wrote a letter Wednesday to President Donald Trump proposing to swap state land near the U.S.-Mexico border for federal land in anticipation of Trump’s promised construction of a wall on the border. -- 2/2/2017

 

Gov. Martinez urges repeal of federal methane waste rule -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Gov. Susana Martinez is backing an effort by congressional Republicans to overturn a federal regulation meant to curb air and environmental pollution by limiting methane waste on public lands, saying the rule to reduce emissions of the gas threatens jobs and public funding of schools and roads. -- 2/2/2017

February 1, 2017

Senate committee approves brine well billsLas Cruces Sun News

Two State Senate bills aimed at preventing the collapse of the I&W Brine Well, and potentially billions of dollars in damages and casualties in Carlsbad, were passed by the New Mexico Senate Conservation Committee Tuesday. The bills appropriate $25 million for a remediation project, along with creating a government body intended to oversee and manage the repairs. - - 2/1/2017

 

Republicans move to sell off 3.3m acres of national land -- The Guardian

The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.

The 10 states affected are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Residents can see how much acreage is earmarked for “disposal” in their counties by checking a PDF on Chaffetz’s website. 1/31/2017

 

January 30, 2017

Four ethics bills clear first House committeeLas Cruces Sun News

Four bills aimed at improving governmental ethics cleared their first House committee Thursday. House Bill 10 would create a public accountability board to consider complaints against members of state and local government. House Joint Resolution 8 would ask voters in 2018 to approve a constitutional amendment. House Bill 73 would prohibit lawmakers and other former elected officials from serving as paid lobbyists for two years after they leave office. House Bill 93 would prohibit cabinet secretaries from receiving payment from sources outside state government. - - 1/30/2017

 

Lawmakers stick with concealed gun regulationsLas Cruces Sun News

A proposal that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun in New Mexico without a special license has stalled in its first legislative hearing. The SRJ5 proposal in New Mexico from Republican Sen. Steven Neville also has been filed as a constitutional amendment that would require approval by a majority of all lawmakers and a statewide vote. - - 1/20/2017

 

Oil, gas drilling rights near Chaco Canyon sold for $3M -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Despite protests from Native Americans, environmentalists and others, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday auctioned oil and gas drilling rights to 843 acres in the Chaco Canyon region of northwest New Mexico.

The rights sold for $3 million, according to the BLM. -- 1/26/2017