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February 24, 2017

NM panel backs special chile pepper license plateLas Cruces Sun News

With red and green chile saturating nearly every facet of life in New Mexico, a legislative panel on Thursday put its support behind a measure that calls for the creation of a special license plate adorned with the hot peppers. The House Transportation and Public Works Committee gave a favorable recommendation for HB 393 sponsored by Republican Rep. Cathrynn Brown of Carlsbad. -- 2/24/2017


Bill to consolidate early ed programs stalls - Las Cruces Sun News

While legislators debate how to fund early childhood education programs, some think more efficiency and better services can be achieved by consolidating early childhood programs. Senate Bill 106 would create a cabinet-level Early Childhood Services Department with oversight of existing programs like home visiting and pre-kindergarten that are currently scattered through various state agencies. -- 2/24/2017


Bill could reduce JMA's funding - Las Cruces Sun News

A bill currently awaiting a hearing with the Senate Finance Committee could reduce program funding for some charter schools if passed, including Carlsbad's Jefferson Montessori Academy. According to the SB 30 Legislative Education Study Committee Bill Analysis, SB 30 would make changes to the New Mexico Public Education Department's public school funding formula. The changes would result in a reduction in the number of program units each charter school and school district receive. The reduction would take place over a five-year period. -- 2/24/2017


New Mexico lawmakers seek new powers for oil regulators - Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico would restore one agency's authority to impose administrative penalties against oil and natural gas well operators in connection with petroleum and wastewater spills, under Senate Bill 307 endorsed by a Senate panel on Thursday. -- 2/24/2017


Lawmakers tackle payday lendingLas Cruces Sun News

For the past several years efforts have been made at the State Legislature to cap interest rates imposed by New Mexico’s small-loan industry, alternately called storefront lenders or payday lenders. The lenders make loans of $2,500 or less, with often extremely high interest rates and short pay-back periods. And typically their customers are low-income New Mexicans who need quick cash to help pay bills. “It would help my constituency because they would no longer have those predatory lenders,” Lundstrom said of House Bill 347. “We’d be eliminating a lot of those predatory lenders.” -- 2/24/2017


NM Democrats block booze ban for DWI convicts - Las Cruces Sun News

A Democratic-control House committee blocked a proposal Thursday that would have banned alcohol for New Mexico’s repeat drunken drivers and created one of the most restrictive DWI laws in the country. By a 3-2 vote along party lines, The House Consumer and Public Affairs tabled HB 271 that would have mandated a lifetime alcohol ban for those convicted of a third drunken driving conviction. -- 2/24/2017

February 23, 2017

Bill requires ag experience for NMSU regents– Las Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents would be required to have at least one member with agricultural experience, under a bill that passed the New Mexico Senate on a 30-10 vote Wednesday. Senate Bill 162 would require that at least one of the five members hold a college degree in agriculture, animal science or a comparable discipline, or have at least four years of practical experience. -- 2/23/2017


New Mexico Senate panel delays action on election bill– Las Cruces Sun News

A New Mexico Senate committee has delayed action a measure that would make it easier for independents to vote in primary elections. The Senate Rules Committee failed on Wednesday to discuss a Senate Bill 205 sponsored by Sen. John Sapien that would let voters not affiliated with any political party vote in primary elections by choosing an affiliation by requesting a ballot. -  2/23/2017

February 22, 2017

Bill aims to require background checks for certain gun salesLas Cruces Sun News

House Bill 50 being considered by New Mexico lawmakers would require background checks for firearm sales at gun shows and in private transactions. Supporters say the bill by Democratic Rep. Garcia of Los Alamos would make it harder for criminals to get guns. - - 2/22/2017


House passes bill to allow for teacher absences- Las Cruces Sun News

Legislation passed by a wide majority Monday evening in the New Mexico House of Representatives would give school teachers throughout the state protection that teachers in Las Cruces lacked two years during a dispute with the state Department of Education. House Bill 241, known as the “Teachers Are Human Too” bill would allow teachers to use up to 10 days of sick leave and all of their personal leave without it having a negative impact on their annual evaluations. - - 2/22/2017


New Mexico lawmaker withdraws bill to ban wildlife trapsLas Cruces Sun News

Senate Memorial 100 would outlaw the trapping of wildlife on public land in New Mexico is being rewritten in response to criticism at a legislative hearing. Democratic Sen. Pete Campos of Las Vegas withdrew the initiative Tuesday and said it was unlikely to move through the Legislature this year as he seeks out compromises between supporters and critics. - - 2/22/2017

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