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March 16, 2017

New Mexico Senate rejects 'right to die' billLas Cruces Sun News

The NM Senate has rejected a proposal that would have allowed terminally ill patients to end their lives with help from a doctor. The Democrat-led Senate voted 20-22 on Wednesday against a SB 252 opposed by the local Roman Catholic Church and GOP Gov. Martinez. -- 3/16/2017


Bill banning coyote killing contests clears House committeeLas Cruces Sun News

A measure that would outlaw coyote killing contests for prizes or entertainment has cleared its latest legislative hurdle. The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 7-4 in favor of the SB 268, which would make it illegal in New Mexico to organize, sponsor or participate in a coyote killing contest. -- 3/16/2017


New Mexico may ban minors from indoor tanningLas Cruces Sun News

The NM House of Representatives has voted to ban indoor tanning for people under age 18 and require tanning salons to post notice of health risks. The House on Tuesday approved HB 212 from Democratic Rep. Andres Romero of Albuquerque that would offset regulatory costs with licensing fees. -- 3/16/2017


Ethics commission proposal advances in New MexicoLas Cruces Sun News

A proposal (HJR 8) to create an independent political ethics commission in New Mexico is headed to the Senate floor for a vote after winning a crucial committee endorsement. The Senate Rules committee on Wednesday endorsed a constitutional amendment to create a seven-member ethics commission with the authority to issue subpoenas and civil penalties. -- 3/16/2017


Bill to lower state drug costs reaches House floorLas Cruces Sun News

A bill by local lawmakers intended to save the state money on prescription drug purchases cleared its final committee hurdle Wednesday and has moved to the House floor. SB 354, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, both D-Las Cruces, would create a new pharmaceuticals purchasing council to develop cost-cutting strategies for all drug purchases by the state. -- 3/16/2017


March 15, 2017

NM Legislature curbs physical restraint of students- Las Cruces Sun News

The NM Legislature has approved House Bill 75 that sets new limits and guidelines for physically restraining school students or placing them in seclusion. The state Senate voted 30-4 on Monday to send the measure to Gov. Martinez, who is likely to sign the bill. -- 3/15/2017


NM Senate backs veto override on teacher sick leave - Las Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico state Senate voted to override a veto by Republican NM Gov. Susana Martinez of HB 241 that would have allowed teachers to take more than three days of annual sick leave without being penalized on performance evaluations. If the House also votes to override, it would be the first time in 15 years a NM governor's veto has been reversed. -- 3/15/2017


Bill to remove firearms from convicted domestic offenders passes House Judiciary Committee - Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill-259, a bill to remove firearms from convicted domestic violent offenders, sponsored by Senator Joseph Cervantes and Representative Javier Martinez, passes New Mexico House Judiciary Committee 9-4 with less than a week left in the legislative session. -- 3/15/2017


Senate Bill 340 is temporarily tabled - Las Cruces Sun News

Senate Bill 340, sponsored by Senators Morales, Wirth and Rue, was temporarily tabled yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee.  The bill would make further Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) spending for NM Unit permitting or implementation contingent upon providing the following information to the legislature:  (1) demonstrate that the proposed NM Unit project is technically feasible, (2) quantify the amount of water the project could produce and who would use it, and (3) provide an engineering estimate of the project’s cost and a plan to pay for it. -- 3/15/2017

March 14, 2017

New Mexico tops latest unemployment list -- Santa Fe New Mexican

While the labor market in most of the United States has heated up, a stagnant New Mexico economy has left the state with the nation’s worst unemployment rate.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Monday that New Mexico’s jobless rate for January was 6.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent a year ago. New Mexico’s unemployment numbers have remained stubbornly high even as conditions continue to improve elsewhere. The national rate stands at 4.8 percent. -- 3/14/2017


March 13, 2017

G.O.P. Health Law Insures Fewer People, Nonpartisan Review Shows -- New York Times

The House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would raise the number of people without health insurance by 24 million within a decade, but would trim $337 billion from the federal deficit over that time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Monday. -- 3/13/2017


Proposal to take more for early ed clears House - Las Cruces Sun News

HJR 1, a proposal that would allow the state to draw a greater amount from New Mexico’s land grant permanent fund to pay for early childhood education cleared the House of Representatives on a 37-32 vote Wednesday night. The constitutional amendment now heads to the Senate with just over a week to go in the session. -- 3/13/2017


Senate passes $1.50-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes- Las Cruces Sun News

Smokers in New Mexico would pay an additional $1.50 a pack in taxes under a bill passed by the Senate on a 24-16 vote Wednesday. Senate Bill 231 also would increase the taxes on cigars and would include e-cigarettes in the tobacco tax for the first time. Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, said the bill would benefit the state by both raising new revenue for schools and reducing the number of smokers, thereby improving the health of New Mexicans and reducing health care costs to the state. -- 3/13/2017


Senate passes bill to increase funding for public schools- Las Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico Senate today passed legislation by a vote of 24 to 16 to provide public schools a needed funding increase of $89 million per year by increasing the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50.  SB 231, would direct the new revenues to strengthen New Mexico’s K-12 classrooms, which have been hit with cuts worth tens of millions of dollars. The new revenues are needed to prevent looming cuts of 5% to 7% across the board to K-12 classrooms and higher education institutions without any new revenues. -- 3/13/2017


Gun bills get traction in open-carry New Mexico CapitolLas Cruces Sun News

Gun regulations in New Mexico such as: SB 259 and  SB 283 may soon be rewritten in ways designed to avoid shootings in domestic violence disputes and to end free-wheeling firearm rules at the state Capitol. Other bills like: HB 50 would place new restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms are inching their way through the Democratic-controlled Legislature as lawmakers near adjournment March 18. -- 3/13/2017


New Mexico lawmakers reject higher renewable power mandate - Las Cruces Sun News

A proposal to ramp up renewable energy requirements at New Mexico's investor owned utilities and cooperatives through the year 2040 has been voted down by a Senate committee on SB 312, ending chances for approval this year. The Senate Corporations Committee voted 5-3 Friday against a plan to gradually increase the share of electricity generated from solar, wind and other renewable sources to 80 percent of supplies for utilities. -- 3/13/2017

March 9, 2017

Sen. Morales' bill to combat car theft passes key committeeLas Cruces Sun News

Senator Howie Morales (D-28 Catron, Grants, Socorro) Wednesday passed legislation with bipartisan support through Senate Judiciary Committee to combat car theft in New Mexico. Albuquerque is experiencing the worst car theft numbers in the nation. Senate Bill 139 will enable a partnership between businesses and police to quickly identify stolen cars when they are sold to salvage and recycling centers and find the criminals responsible. -- 3/9/2017


Senate passes $1.50-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes - Las Cruces Sun News

Smokers in New Mexico would pay an additional $1.50 a pack in taxes under a bill passed by the Senate on a 24-16 vote Wednesday. Senate Bill 231 also would increase the taxes on cigars and would include e-cigarettes in the tobacco tax for the first time. Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, said the bill would benefit the state by both raising new revenue for schools and reducing the number of smokers, thereby improving the health of New Mexicans and reducing health care costs to the state. -- 3/9/2017


New Mexico governor approves broadband expansion bills - Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed two bills, HB 60 and HB 113 designed to extend high-speed internet access to the farthest reaches of the state. One bill signed into law Wednesday by the governor creates a "dig once" policy that ensures broadband conduit can be inserted underground any time trenches are dug to access utility lines. -- 3/9/2017

March 8, 2017

House passes measure to reinstate solar tax creditLas Cruces Sun News

A bipartisan measure that would reinstate a tax credit aimed at boosting roof-top solar installations in New Mexico has cleared one legislative chamber. The House voted 36-31 Monday evening in favor of the HB 61, which would renew the state's solar market development tax credit for another eight years. It would set a cap of $5 million for solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems. -- 3/8/2017


A hot race: NM works to beat out Colo. for 'chile' license plate -- Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico legislators are racing against time — and Colorado — to have the first specialty license plate featuring chiles. House Bill 393 was amended to include an emergency clause to ensure that the plates are available to New Mexicans before being produced in neighboring Colorado. An emergency clause means that the bill will become effective immediately after it is signed by Gov. Susana Martinez. - - 3/8/17


NM lawmakers debate naming ‘official state dance’Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico Senate Democrats are debating SB 449 to name an official state dance despite a deadline to pass more pressing bills. The Democratic-controlled Senate Rules Committee on Monday approved a measure to identify “La Marcha de los Novios” as the state’s official dance number. - - 3/8/17


Raising cigarette taxes will help classroomsLas Cruces Sun News

New Mexico has a unique opportunity to accomplish two important goals for our state by simply raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. First, we can substantially strengthen our children’s classrooms, which have been hit with cuts worth tens of millions of dollars since 2008. Second, we can make sure that more than 11,000 additional kids never even become smokers, and more than 10,000 current adult smokers will quit, significantly lowering overall health costs. Senate Bill 231, would increase the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, with an equivalent increase in other tobacco products including e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The tax on a pack of cigarettes would increase from $1.66 to $3.16. It will produce new revenues of $89 million annually for our state. -- 3/8/2017

March 7, 2017

Bill to protect teacher absences on to governorLas Cruces Sun News

Legislation to protect teachers from being penalized for using their sick leave days is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Susana Martinez. HB 241, known as the “Teachers Are Human Too” bill, passed unanimously in the Senate after originally clearing the House on a 64-3 vote. The bill will add language to the School Personnel Act that would prevent teacher sick or personal leave days from negatively affecting their annual performance evaluations. -- 3/7/2017


Ethics commission proposal advances in New MexicoLas Cruces Sun News

A proposed constitutional amendment HJR 8, to create an independent ethics commission in New Mexico picked up endorsements from top legislative leaders on Monday as it moves toward the House floor for a vote. Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf promised to expedite a House vote to ensure time for Senate consideration before the Legislature adjourns March 18, as the House Judiciary Committee unanimously endorsed the plan. -- 3/7/2017


Local lawmakers seek to aid outdoor recreationLas Cruces Sun News

Legislators Rep. Nathan Small and Sen. Jeff Steinborn are part of a bipartisan effort to create a new state office dedicated to outdoor recreation. Small, D-Las Cruces, is joining with Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, in sponsoring House Memorial 91; and Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, is joining with Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, in sponsoring Senate Memorial 130. Both measures call for a study regarding a new Office of Outdoor Recreation. -- 3/7/2017


Abortion restriction bills fall in committee – Las Cruces Sun News

Two bills that would have placed additional restrictions or qualifications on abortions were both killed Sunday in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, according to a press release from House Democrats. House Bill 220 would have prohibited abortions following the 20th week of pregnancy. House Bill 221 would have required a parent or legal guardian to be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion is performed on a minor age 17 or younger. An exception would have been granted in cases of rape or incest, or if notification would have endangered the life or health of the mother. -- 3/7/2017