News

Stephanie Fitzgerald

NM Senate Panel Votes No On Right-To-Work Bill - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A Senate panel has stopped the advance of a right-to-work bill that has drawn scores of people to the State Capitol for hours of hearings.

The Public Affairs Committee voted 5-3 yesterday to block a bill that prohibits requiring workers to join a union or to pay dues as a condition of employment and includes a 50-cent-per-hour minimum wage increase.

Wikimedia Commons

KUNM's Chris Boros chatted with Gwyneth Doland on recent news from the state legislature as part of our People, Power and Democrayc reporting project. Our partners are New Mexico In Depth and New Mexico PBS. 

KUNM:  Let’s start with the two bills that would restrict abortions. One would ban abortions later in pregnancy and another would require teens to notify their parents. The Catholic bishops are pushing this hard and so are groups that oppose abortions who tried for the ban in Albuquerque last year.

eggrole via Flickr

People caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would be issued a citation much like a speeding ticket under a proposal that is heading to the Senate floor for a vote.

Arianna Sena

International students could get a big discount on eligible university tuition if an economic development idea succeeds in the state legislature.

The proposal (HB 481),  introduced by Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell,  would give in-state tuition to students from outside of New Mexico who come here to study science, engineering, technology and math.

Photo via www.engagingpeace.com

Arguments Heard In New Mexico PARCC Testing Contract FightThe Associated Press

Lawyers have submitted arguments in a legal challenge to New Mexico's contract with a testing company that may halt a much-debated assessment exam in the state.

Santa Fe District Judge Sarah Singleton heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could overturn a contract awarded to London-based Pearson and potentially tangle up other states using the same test.

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After stalling in committee last month, a bill requiring more transparency from lobbyists cruised through the state House Saturday after hitting only one last speed bump.

On Saturday, state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill on the floor and put some of those requirements back in.

But with just two weeks left in the session, supporters of more transparency for lobbyists say even a stripped-down bill is an important first step.

Rita Daniels

Three groups called for homeless people and people with mental illnesses to be represented in the process to reform the Albuquerque Police Department. Last week the groups filed a motion in federal court.

The ACLU joined forces with Disability Rights New Mexico and the Native American Voters Alliance to intervene in the settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Albuquerque.

Courtesy of Paul Ielacqua

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project has been investigating Albuquerque Police Department shooting deaths with an eye on behavioral health issues. This week, we’re looking at officer mental health.

Paul Ielacqua was an APD Aviation officer from 2001 to 2008 but has worked in law enforcement—at the Bernalillo County jail and Conchas Lake—since 1996. He talked to KUNM about how police handle their own mental wellness in high-stress situations.

Courtesy of Mary Jobe

When the Department of Justice report on the Albuquerque Police Department came out last year, it highlighted that interactions between officers and people with mental illnesses can be volatile. It also pointed to limited services. But what about the mental wellbeing of the officers?

On March 19, 2012, the call that came in to Albuquerque police was not an emergency.

Rio Grande Sun

Fire Inside Espanola Newspaper Office Suspected As Arson - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Authorities believe a fire that broke out in the office of a northern New Mexico newspaper is the work of an arsonist.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that firefighters were called to a fire at the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

Crews contained the blaze to an office before it could spread.

Gareth Williams via Flickr

New Mexico House Panel Eyes State Cuban Trade Office The Associated Press

A New Mexico House panel is set to discuss a proposal that would create a state Cuban Trade Office.

The House Business and Employment Committee is scheduled Saturday to debate the bill sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia.

Under the proposal, the office would identify potential buyers in Cuba for New Mexico goods and services. The office also would assist New Mexico businesses with marketing in Cuba.

Ira Glass, the creator and host of the popular public radio show This American Life, will be in Albuquerque to do a live one-man show called Reinventing Radio at Popejoy Hall Sunday at 3p.

KUNM’s Elaine Baumgartel chatted with Glass about what he originally envisioned for the show back in 1995 when it first aired. There was a kind of story that he wasn’t hearing very often on the radio, Glass said.

Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Susana Martinez pledged her support on Friday for a 500-mile-long hiking trail along the Rio Grande intended to showcase New Mexico’s beauty.

The Rio Grande Trail would start at the Colorado border and follow the meandering river as it cascades through New Mexico before hugging Texas.

lu_lu via flickr

New Mexico Releases Details Of Child Vaccine Exemptions - The Associated Press

New Mexico health officials have released the number of vaccine exemptions per school district for 2014, and Quemado tops the list.

The sparsely-populated district in western New Mexico has the highest rate of exemptions per 1,000 students at 40.3. The Santa Fe district has a rate of nearly 21, while the state's largest district in Albuquerque stands at 7.2.

David Powell - Hawks Aloft

 A lawsuit filed against the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife challenges a planned levee system along 43 miles of the Rio Grande. Environmentalists are concerned that the project would eliminate critical habitat for some endangered species.

www.enfield.gov.uk via CC

UPDATE Thursday 3/5 at 6 p.m.: KUNM Host Chris Boros and I just discussed the two abortion bills making their way to the House floor soon, including HB 391, which requires doctors to alert parents at least 48 hours before a minor gets an abortion, and HB 390, the

Arianna Sena

The state’s Whistleblower Protection Act went into effect in 2010 and since then the state has had to spend a lot more money dealing with lawsuits. A bill in the state legislature would address that by making it harder to make a whistleblower claim.

Under current law, public employees who face retaliation for exposing corruption can sue the state for double back pay. State Senator Joseph Cervantes sponsored the original measure.

Whitepaw / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists Outline Research Wish List For Nuclear EnergyThe Associated Press

Engineers and researchers from national laboratories and universities around the country are trying to narrow the list of critical research problems the nation needs to address when it comes to nuclear energy.

The group gathered at the University of New Mexico is expected to detail its findings Thursday.

The group includes representatives from UNM, Colorado State University, Texas A&M and Sandia and Los Alamos national labs.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant spilled nearly 6 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande last Friday. Public Health New Mexico’s Ed Williams reports there was an equipment failure at one of the plant’s pumping facilities.

Officials with the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant say there was a spike in power during last week’s heavy snowstorm. That power spike disabled a pump station.

Plant Operations Manager Charles Leder says backup systems should have protected the facility from power fluctuations.

Ed Williams

High interest, small dollar loans are abundant in New Mexico. Businesses offer quick cash payments for people who need money right away. But the interest rates on these loans can be as high as two thousand percent, and many people are unable to pay them off.   

This is especially true in the state's low-income communities. Statewide, storefront lending businesses outnumber fast food chain restaurants.

Ed Williams

We recently published the first two stories in an ongoing series on pollution and the Rio Grande in which we plan to explore a range of topics and issues.

ChrisGoldNY via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show 3/5 8a: 

Critics say short term loans trap New Mexicans in a cycle of poverty. Often borrowers end up paying more than the amount of the loan in interest. But lending industry supporters say people who take out storefront loans know exactly what they are getting into and that there aren't other easy ways to get small loans quickly.

State lawmakers in Santa Fe are considering changes to how the storefront loan industry is regulated. Should we let the free market work it out or do New Mexicans need protection from what some call predatory lending? 

NM County Courthouses / Flickr

69 Dismissals So Far From Speedup Of Bernalillo County Cases - The Associated Press and KOAT-TV

The Albuquerque area's top prosecutor says dozens of criminal cases have been dismissed at least temporarily since new state-mandated deadlines kicked in about a month ago.

According to KOAT-TV, the 69 dismissed cases cited by Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg include ones against people charged with sex crimes involving children.

kmillard92 via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Most New Mexicans think their state government is full of bad apples. The problem is, it’s really hard to tell which ones are good for us—and which ones are rotten.

According to a poll released Monday, three-quarters of New Mexico business leaders say they want the state to have an independent ethics commission. Two proposals moving through the state legislature would do just that.

Democratic Representative Brian Egolf says unlike many of our neighbors, we don’t have an organized way of investigating officials accused of corruption.

my_southborough via Creative Commons

New Mexico Solitary Confinement Bill To Go Before Committee - The Associated Press

A New Mexico House panel is expected to revisit a solitary confinement reform proposal a week after a heated exchange sparked by a Democratic member ended a meeting.

The House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee is set Tuesday to discuss a measure that would ban the use of solitary confinement on juveniles and inmates suffering from mental illness.

New Mexico Senate Approves Bill To Eradicate BullyingThe Associated Press

Rita Daniels

More than a thousand students walked out of their classrooms across New Mexico on Monday in protest of a new standardized test. Many of the students said the test robs them of valuable learning time and will ultimately hurt their schools.

Allencrack dövmeci / Wikimedia Commons

Senate Passes Bill To Create State Board For Tattoo Artists - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Legislation that would create a state board to regulate New Mexico tattoo and piercing artists has received overwhelming approval from the Senate.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Senate voted Friday 39-1 in favor of the bill that proposes a five-member Board of Body Art Practitioners.

killbox via flickr

Ice, Snow Cover Some New Mexico Roads After StormsThe Associated Press 

Officials were warning motorists about difficult driving conditions Saturday morning along some New Mexico roadways as a result of stormy winter weather.

Late Friday, Albuquerque police cautioned people about doing any driving because of treacherous conditions that caused numerous traffic accidents.

AHealthBlog via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Another Arizona-based behavioral health provider is planning to shut down operations in New Mexico. La Frontera is one of five nonprofits that took over for local providers accused of fraud. Turquoise Health and Wellness announced earlier this year they would close their New Mexico offices on April 1st.

Media Literacy Project

Local advocates of net neutrality are celebrating a victory. The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to change the way Internet service providers (ISPs) are regulated.

Neza Leal works with the Media Literacy Project in Albuquerque. He says the FCC’s vote to reclassify Internet service providers as public utilities is appropriate considering how Internet infrastructure works.

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