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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 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 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


January 29, 2015

NM land commissioner puts the brakes on SunZia -- Albuquerque Journal / Associated Press

New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has put the brakes on a $2 billion transmission project that would carry electricity generated by renewable resources in New Mexico and Arizona to markets across the West.

Dunn announced late Wednesday that he was issuing a 60-day suspension after meeting with the developers. He says that will give his office time to review the project before any further development affects state trust lands. -- 1/29/2015

January 28, 2015

Flu cases up 50 percent to 2,372 in El Paso, health officials sayLas Cruces Sun News

Flu cases in El Paso have jumped more than 50 percent while the influenza season continues across the United States, local health officials said Tuesday. The El Paso Department of Public Health reported that there have been 2,372 flu cases this season compared with 1,217 cases at this time last year. The flu season started in October and typically peaks in January and February. -- 01/28/2015


Report: LANL officer’s lax practices led to disclosure of national secrets -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Federal investigators say the employee in charge of keeping classified material secret at Los Alamos National Laboratory misclassified documents in several instances and failed to report security incidents, resulting in the improper release of national security information.

A [draft] review by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General also found the classification officer was lax about keeping his staff apprised of up-to-date guidelines for determining whether information should be publicly released. The report criticizes the consortium of private contractors that manages the lab for ignoring the problems, even though it was aware of them. -- 1/27/2015

January 20, 2014

Governor Martinez Delivers State Of The State Address

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez delivered the 2015 State of the State address this afternoon at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. 

The full text is available from the Santa Fe New Mexican. The audio of the address is available from KUNM.

January 6, 2015

In new report, feds rip WIPP’s emergency plans -- The Santa Fe New Mexican

A new federal report about safety conditions at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad criticized the contractor that operates the below-ground nuclear waste repository for inadequate and unreliable information in the plans it developed to guide decision-makers during an emergency.

The report, based on a review conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments, which evaluates federal contractors, focused on WIPP’s recovery plan for operating diesel equipment with restricted airflows. airflows inside WIPP have been limited to about one-seventh of their normal level since a Feb. 14 radiation leak that began with the rupture of a drum of nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory. -- 1/5/2015


New Mexico land office postpones solar land auctions for Santa Teresa, Chaparral acreage -- El Paso Times

The New Mexico State Land Office indefinitely postponed two Monday auctions for state land leases for proposed solar projects on 2,770 acres near Chaparral and Santa Teresa.

The auctions, set by former New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell, were postponed until further notice, reported Lilia Urrutia, a spokeswoman at the land office in Santa Fe. No reason was given for stopping the auctions. 1/6/2015