News

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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.

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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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Legislation to drop the 20 percent renewable requirement for public electric utilities is making its way through committees at the Roundhouse. Current law requires that 20 percent of a public utility’s energy come from wind, solar or geothermal by the end of 2020.

The state’s largest utility, PNM, declined to comment on the House bill, saying only that they believe this is a decision for lawmakers.

www.rockandrhythmfoundation.org

More and more research tells us that music programs are an important part of a public school education.  Sadly, many of the kids who could most benefit from these programs are deciding not to take part.  Musician and educator Robb Janov discusses why some kids feel intimidated by public school music programs and how the non-profit he founded, The Rock and Rhythm Foundation, is using rock to help Albuquerque kids feel "at home" in music.

Snow Forecast For New MexicoNational Weather Service

A parade of disturbances will continue to impact New Mexico with areas of accumulating snow through the first half of the coming week.  

Snow will diminish by the middle of today across southern and eastern areas but it should continue and actually re-intensify across central and northwest area this afternoon and tonight.

Additional heavy and wet snow accumulation through Sunday will be measured in feet across the northern mountains where damage to some structures will be possible.

Substance abuse treatment is not available for everyone who needs it in New Mexico, and this shortage is at the root of some tragic altercations with police.

Mike Gomez met me in a park in Albuquerque, holding a framed photo of his son Alan. “He was a good kid, a normal kid,” he said. “He graduated high school on time. He was a Little League All-Star.”

NMPBS

The United States is the only industrialized country without mandatory paid leave for new parents.

New Mexico PBS looks at efforts to expand paid leave on Public Square, a program that explores community engagement through meaningful dialogue. 

In this clip, host and producer Megan Kamerick speaks with Professor Harry Van Buren of the Anderson School of Management at UNM, and Ona Porter, CEO of Prosperity Works.

The program airs Thursday 2/26 at 7p on New Mexico PBS Channel 5 TV. 

Arianna Sena

Scanned copies of all state contracts should be available on the Sunshine Portal, say two lawmakers who are proposing an update to the state transparency website.

Posting original documents would give New Mexicans a bigger window into state contracts, something that’s important to business owners, says one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque.

Arianna Sena

NM House Passes Revamped Right-To-Work BillThe Associated Press

The GOP-controlled New Mexico House of Representatives has approved a contentious right-to-work bill that tacks on an increase in the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8 an hour.

The Republican-sponsored bill prohibits requiring workers to join a union or to pay dues as a condition of employment and applies to both public and private sectors.

The House voted 37-30 Wednesday to move the bill along to the Senate, where it faces resistance.

Rita Daniels

High-stakes testing at schools across New Mexico begins next week. So far about 500 parents in Albuquerque have opted out of the tests on behalf of their children.

Fifth-grader Anna Gilboard goes to Bandelier Elementary School in Albuquerque. She opted out. The eleven-year old said she’d rather learn than take tests for hours on end.

“I get super stressed about these tests so I don’t do really well on them,” Gilboard said. “I feel like I’m failing my teacher when I do that.”

Fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on student test scores.

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Four Corners Sees Spike In Marijuana SeizuresThe Associated Press and Daily Times

New statistics show that a Four Corners regional narcotics taskforce has seized around six times as much marijuana in 2014 than the previous year.

The Daily Times reports that the Region II Narcotics Taskforce seized 245 pounds of marijuana, which has an approximate street value nearly $200,000.

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Lobbyists and organizations have reported spending more than $231,000 trying to influence lawmakers in the first half of the 60-day session.

Much of that money went toward wining and dining legislators. And that only includes expenditures of $500 or more that are required to be reported to the Secretary of State within 48 hours.

New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Legislation that would allow universities in New Mexico to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes passed through committee Monday night. The bill could reach the Senate floor for a vote later this week.

The federal government made the distinction between hemp and marijuana official last year. Hemp contains virtually none of the mind-altering compound THC and is a highly versatile material.

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Whether they’re shopping for a refrigerator, a laptop or a used car, most people do some comparison shopping before making a big purchase.

But that’s not the way healthcare works in New Mexico, where comparing prices for a hip replacement or asthma treatment is practically impossible. 

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New Mexico Joins Other States In Grappling With Drones - The Associated Press

Lawmakers in New Mexico are trying to grapple with new drone technology and how much freedom law enforcement agencies should have in using them.

And even New Mexico sheriffs' offices don't know how to respond.

A New Mexico legislative panel is expected soon to debate a measure that would limit the use of drones by law enforcement agencies without a warrant.

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KUNM Call In Show 2/26 8a: 

Public education knows no boundaries. Students are affluent and they're poor. They come from rural and urban communities. Some speak English and some are just learning. This week we'll look at how students are affected differently by public education reforms.

We'd like to hear from you!

Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments below or call in live during the show.

Guests:

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The use of solitary confinement on mentally ill inmates sparked expensive lawsuits in New Mexico in the last couple of years. Doña Ana County paid Stephen Slevin millions of dollars in 2013 after he spent almost two years in solitary confinement. A bill making its way through this legislative session could outlaw such lengthy stays in isolation. 

Heath Haussamen / New Mexico In Depth

More than 1,000 additional New Mexico children could receive government-funded child-care assistance if their parents or guardians ask for it.

The state’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) is clearing a waiting list of 1,119 children, saying it now has the funds available to offer assistance for childcare.

Agency spokesman Henry Varela confirmed the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez is paying for the extra child-care assistance using $400,000 from millions of dollars in unspent federal funds.

Photo by Darkpatator courtesy of Creative Commons

Water Pipeline To Be Shut Down Temporarily In SE Albuquerque - The Associated Press

Albuquerque's major water provider is temporarily shutting down a transmission pipeline in a southeastern area of the city.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority will take the pipeline out of service starting at 6 p.m. Sunday in order to replace a large-diameter valve.

Officials say the project is expected to last until 6 a.m. Thursday.

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New Mexico House Committee Votes In Favor Of Abortion Bills – The Associated Press

A New Mexico legislative committee has voted along party lines on a second abortion-related bill, this one requiring minors to notify parents within 48 hours before ending a pregnancy.

The House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee voted 4-3 Friday, with Republicans in the majority. More than an hour earlier in an identical vote after a five-hour hearing, the panel approved a bill banning late-term abortions.

Gwyneth Doland

New Mexico is one of only a handful of states that don’t restrict late-term abortions. But that could change if a bill moving through the state Legislature is successful.

GoodNCrazy via flickr

The Senate Public Affairs Committee rejected legislation this week to hold back third-graders who do not perform well on a standardized reading test. The bill to end so-called social promotion failed on a party line vote.

Sen. Mimi Stewart, a Democrat from Albuquerque who opposed the bill, said thousands of third-graders would have been held back every year, regardless of their progress in subjects other than reading.

taberandrew via Flickr

Five of the six senators who opposed legislation to cap what lenders can charge borrowers on certain types of loans took thousands of dollars in campaign money from the industry in 2013 and 2014, state records show.

credit: Nic McPhee

NM Budget Bill To Include Pay Hike For New Teachers, PoliceThe Associated Press

New teachers and state police officers can expect pay raises in the next fiscal year as New Mexico lawmakers get closer to hammering out a spending plan in the face of declining revenues.

Most department budgets remain largely flat under the House Appropriations and Finance Committee scenarios that will become part of a budget bill members are scheduled to vote on Friday.

Rita Daniels

City Councilors in Albuquerque voted Wednesday to halt construction of a trail in the Rio Grande bosque. Many nature advocates say their trust was damaged when the city started cutting a six-foot wide path through the forest along the banks of the river without giving public notice.

Arianna Sena

A former UNM student who said she was assaulted by two Lobo football players and a CNM student last year filed a lawsuit in District Court  against the university Thursday. The lawsuit alleges Title IX investigators at UNM protected the athletes by conducting a shoddy investigation. 

Rita Daniels

Businesses, military bases and city utilities have dozens of permits to release pollution into the Rio Grande watershed. Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest sources of discharges into the river.

The plant has had trouble with regulators and neighboring communities in the past, but they’re making some headway. 

On a recent sunny day in Albuquerque’s South Valley, water utility workers bent over a grate taking readings of the city’s treated wastewater as it rushes from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant into the Rio Grande.

Silver Bullet Production

There are 22 Native American tribes in New Mexico and on Thursday 2/19 at 7p, New Mexico PBS will air a documentary that weaves the voices of many women from these communities into one story.

Pamela Pierce is one of the producers of the film called A Thousand Voices. She told KUNM’s Elaine Baumgartel that the film grew out of conversations she had after completing another local film project on Pueblo sovereignty.

www.nmlegis.gov

NM Senate Democrats Say Their Bills Will Create 73,000 Jobs - The Associated Press

Senate Democrats have pitched a lofty jobs bills package that promises 73,000 new positions in New Mexico in the next four to five years.

They say the more than 40 bills they have introduced this session address the need for increased employment and economic activity in the state.

Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla says Democratic leadership is also united in stopping right-to-work legislation supported by the Republican-controlled House.

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