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September 2, 2016

Bernalillo County man is state's 3rd case of human plagueLas Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico Department of Health is reporting the third human plague case in the state this year. They say a 67-year-old Bernalillo County man was hospitalized but now is recovering at home. The illness likely was caused by a bite the man sustained from a wild prairie dog from Santa Fe County. -- 9/2/2016


Drones Will Have an Impact on Your City: Here’s What You Need to Know -- CitiesSpeak

Cities across America will need to decide how they want to manage widespread commercial drone use, how they want to adopt drone technology for themselves, and how best they can encourage innovation in this exciting and growing field while still ensuring public safety.

To read more about this issue, check out the National League of Cities' full report, Cities and Drones: What Cities Need to Know About Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or the shorter issue brief. -- August 2016


U.S. takes key step to implement sage grouse conservation plan -- Santa Fe New Mexican/Associated Press

Federal land managers issued guidelines Thursday for restricting energy development, livestock grazing and other activities on public land in the West to protect the greater sage grouse, part of a broad effort to save the bird without resorting to listing it as an endangered species.

The Bureau of Land Management guidelines tell field employees when and how to apply new rules under a sweeping conservation plan announced last year. -- 9/2/2016


August 25, 2016

State cash reserves hit zero as budget troubles mount -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Falling tax revenues have left a $654 million hole in the state budget, and New Mexico lawmakers learned Wednesday that the reserve fund for day-to-day government operations is completely drained.

The Legislature is expected to convene next month in a special session in Santa Fe to transfer money to the operating budget from an account containing cash tobacco companies paid to settle a lawsuit. -- 8/25/2016


New Mexico schools post improved grades, ABQ falls behind -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico schools earned just slightly more A’s and B’s than D’s and F’s in the latest round of school grades, but Albuquerque fell behind.

Statewide 38 percent of schools, a total of 325, reached the top two grade levels compared with 37 percent, or 315, at the bottom, according to data the New Mexico Public Education Department released Wednesday. -- 8/24/2016


NM Supreme Court clarifies state whistleblower lawLas Cruces Sun News

The New Mexico Supreme Court has issued a ruling in a case involving former Secretary of State Mary Herrera that narrows the grounds for whistleblowers to bring legal action by shielding officeholders from personal liability. The justices have overturned an earlier appellate court ruling that the Whistleblower Protection Act allowed state officials to be sued as individuals. - - 8/24/16

August 18, 2016

Martinez to call special legislative session -- Santa Fe New Mexico

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she will call a special legislative session to address a budget crunch stemming from dwindling revenues.

While the exact timing is uncertain, Martinez said it will likely happen in September.

Legislative analysts are expected to release an updated revenue forecast next week. They have said the state general fund was short an estimated $150 million for the budget year that ended in June and faces potentially greater shortfalls this year. -- 8/18/2016


Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons -- Washington Post

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

Yates noted that the Bureau of Prisons was “already taking steps” to make her order a reality. Three weeks ago, she wrote, the bureau declined to renew a contract for 1,200 beds at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. -- 8/18/2016


Study: Most of methane hot spot comes from natural gas leaksLas Cruces Sun News

A puzzling concentration of the greenhouse gas methane over the Southwestern United States appears to come mostly from leaks in natural gas production, scientists said Monday. According to researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, they identified more than 250 sources of a methane hot spot over the Four Corners region of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. They include gas wells, storage tanks, pipelines and processing plants. - - 8/18/2016

August 17, 2016

State OKs energy contract for possible Facebook move to NM -- Albuquerque Journal

State regulators today approved a special services contract between Facebook and Public Service Company of New Mexico, bringing a proposed Los Lunas data center one step closer to fruition.

In a unanimous vote, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved the application, which outlines how the state’s largest utility would supply power to the data center. -- 8/17/2016


Public notice ordered for Augustin Plain water plan -- Albuquerque Journal

A controversial proposal to pump 54,000 acre-feet of water each year from the Augustin Plains of west-central New Mexico up to the Middle Rio Grande Valley is a step closer to public hearings.

The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer has notified the Augustin Plains Ranch, the commercial venture behind the water-transfer plan, to publish a public notice of its application to pump and transport the water. That sets the stage for public hearings to be held after the public has had the opportunity to object to the plan. -- 8/17/2016


Navajo Nation sues feds over massive 2015 mine waste spill– Las Cruces Sun News

Leaders of one of the nation's largest American Indian tribes blasted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as their attorneys sued Tuesday (Case 1:16-cv-00931),claiming negligence in the cleanup of a massive mine waste spill that tainted rivers in three Western states. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye stood on the bank of the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico and explained his people's link to the water and the economic, cultural and psychological damage inflicted in the wake of the August 2015 spill in southwestern Colorado. - - 8/17/2016

August 16, 2016

Officials: El Paso man contracts Zika virusLas Cruces Sun News

An El Paso man has tested positive for the Zika virus, which he contracted while traveling in Florida. According to the Texas Department of Health, it's the first case of the mosquito-borne virus in the area, city public health officials said at a news conference Monday at City Hall. City Public Health Director Robert Resendes said that the man was believed to have become infected in Miami, which is the only location in the continental U.S. where there has been locally-acquired cases of the virus. - - 8/16/2016


Social Security turns 81 in AugustLas Cruces Sun News

Look who’s over the hill! In August, we will be celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Social Security Act. Although Social Security’s overall structure remains the same, it’s impossible to overlook the changes in the economy and advancements in technology that made it necessary to transform our programs into what they are today. In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which gave birth to Social Security, (almost) as we know it today. The program was created primarily as a response to the growing rate of poverty within the elderly population. - - 8/16/2016

August 10, 2016

NM Dept. of Health: Immunize for back to school and beyond– Las Cruces Sun News

This week we're revisiting a topic that is an important cornerstone to public health: immunization. It’s often said immunizations are one of the top public health accomplishments of the last century, and it’s so true. Getting vaccinated is key on the road to good health. As we've talked about in this column before, the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Immunization Coalition in partnership with Allen Theatres will host an annual back-to-school immunization event for children ages 0 to 18. - - 8/10/2016


$143M settlement to clean up closed mine in NM– Las Cruces Sun News

Federal authorities say the Chevron Mining Inc. has agreed to a $143 million settlement to clean up the closed molybdenum mine near Questa in northern New Mexico. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that the proposed partial consent decree, if approved by the court, will provide for the next phase of the cleanup at the Superfund site. - - 8/10/2016

August 9, 2016

NM teachers to get $100 debit cards for suppliesLas Cruces Sun News

Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday announced that all New Mexico teachers will receive a prepaid $100 debit card to help buy classroom materials and supplies for the second year in a row. “As I’ve traveled around the state, teachers often tell me they have to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pocket,” Gov. Martinez said in a news release. “With these debit cards, we’ll help cover the costs while making sure our teachers, kids, and classrooms are equipped for the year ahead.” - - 08/09/2016


Advocates: Bill would enhance state's creative economyLas Cruces Sun News

The business of the arts can help drive the economy in New Mexico, said a group of artists, entrepreneurs and others who gathered recently to talk shop. Staff for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., hosted the discussion allowing residents to share their ideas about stimulating arts businesses, improving access to the arts and creating more arts-related jobs throughout New Mexico. Discussions surrounded initiatives in the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act, a bill introduced by Udall in March at a gathering in Washington, D.C. The bill would help artists, entrepreneurs and workers employed in cultural education and tourism better access federal programs and resources to grow their business and share artwork with local communities. - - 08/09/2016