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May 18, 2017

Some urge more public input as Bears Ears’ fate looms -- The Salt Lake City Tribune

The 15-day window for public comment on Utah's Bears Ears National Monument is closing fast, prompting calls on the Department of Interior to expand the comment period beyond May 26 and to add ways for interested residents to weigh in on the controversial designation and 26 other large monuments.

Interior officials are soliciting input on the matter online through the federal website www.regulations.gov, despite the lack of internet access among some American Indians affiliated with the tribes that either proposed or support the 1.3-million-acre monument, recently designated in San Juan County's Cedar Mesa and surrounding canyon country west of Blanding.

Monument advocates say they were largely excluded from engaging with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during his four-day swing through Utah last week on a "listening tour" organized by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's staff. Zinke assured the media that everyone can make their views known through the website, but New Mexico's Sen. Martin Heinrich contends language and digital barriers will prevent many American Indians from participating.

"Internet access is far from universal in Indian Country," the Democratic lawmaker wrote in a letter last week to Zinke, asking for public hearings and a 45-day comment extension. "Across vast reaches of the Navajo Nation, even cell service is hard to come by." -- last updated 5/17/2017

May 16, 2017

Agencies escape sequestration cuts in FY 2017 -- Federal News Radio

With just over four months left in fiscal 2017, agencies can breathe a sign of relief as they will not face cuts under sequestration. The Congressional Budget Office released its final sequester report of 2017. In the report, CBO says the current fiscal year hasn’t exceeded the statutory caps on discretionary spending. -- 5/15/2017

May 10, 2017

 
In a surprising victory for President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, the Senate voted on Wednesday to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land.
 
Senators voted 51 to 49 to block consideration of a resolution to repeal the 2016 Interior Department rule to curb emissions of methane, a powerful planet-warming greenhouse gas. Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, all Republicans who have expressed concern about climate change and backed legislation to tackle the issue, broke with their party to join Democrats and defeat the resolution.  -- 5/10/2017

May 8, 2017

NM 2015 graduation rate was worst in nation -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico had the nation’s worst high school graduation rate in 2015 – a poor showing tied to poverty and demographics, according to a new report.

But the picture is complex – some states have had much greater success than New Mexico in helping low-income students get to graduation day, “challenging any notions that low outcomes for low-income students are inevitable,” the study states.

With 69 percent of students earning their cap and gown on time, the Land of Enchantment stands out in the latest “Building a Grad Nation” study from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University. No other state was under 70 percent that year. -- 5/8/2017

May 5, 2017

 
After weeks of uncertainty and finger-pointing over New Mexico’s budget impasse, the date and agenda for a special legislative session has been set by Gov. Susana Martinez.
 
In a proclamation issued today, the two-term Republican governor settled on May 24 as the special session’s start date. -- 5/5/2017
 
 
 
The Department of the Interior today announced the first ever formal public comment period for members of the public to officially weigh in on monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906, and the Department released a list of monuments under review under the President’s Executive Order 13792, issued April 26, 2017. A public comment period is not required for monument designations under the Antiquities Act; however, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that local input is a critical component of federal land management.
 
Editor's Note: Two New Mexico National Monuments on are on the review list: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte.
 
Comments may be submitted online after May 12 at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.
 
DATES: The Department will shortly publish a notice in the Federal Register officially opening the public comment period. Written comments relating to the Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted within 15 days of publication of that notice. Written comments relating to all other designations subject to Executive Order 13792 must be submitted within 60 days of that date. --5/5/2017

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May 4, 2017

 
New Mexico pays out millions of dollars in tax incentives each year, but a new report says the state falls short of regularly analyzing whether it gets the intended results.
 
The Pew Charitable Trusts study, “How States are Improving Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth,” lauds work performed by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee and its staff but says lawmakers and the Governor’s Office need to be more rigorous in designing a regular cycle of analysis and writing it into law. -- 5/4/2017

May 3, 2017

NM Land Grant Fund up 11 percent -- Albuquerque Journal

The state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund grew by 11.3 percent for the investment year ending in March, pushing New Mexico’s total permanent funds to a record $21.7 billion, State Investment Officer Steve Moise said in a public speech in Albuquerque Tuesday morning.

That puts New Mexico third in the nation after Alaska and Texas in total fund balances compared with the 11 states that have sovereign wealth funds, Moise said at a business breakfast organized by the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management.

As a result, the SIC will distribute nearly $900 million to the state for the next fiscal year that starts in July to help finance public schools, universities, hospitals and other agencies. That’s up from about $300 million distributed 20 years ago. -- 5/2/2017