KUNM

Court Invalidates Governor Vetoes, NM Supreme Court Strikes Down Gag Order

Sep 28, 2017

Court Invalidates 10 Vetoes By Governor MartinezThe Associated Press

New Mexico's secretary of state says 10 bills have been enacted into law after a court found that vetoes by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez were invalid.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Thursday that a state district court judge denied a request to block the bills while the governor prepares an appeal.

Members of the Democrat-led Legislature say Martinez either failed to indicate the reason why she vetoed the bills or missed a three-day deadline. Those veto requirements are designed to help lawmakers respond to the governor's concerns and to keep the Legislature operating efficiently.

If left standing, the newly enacted laws open the way for industrial hemp research programs and allow high school students to count computer science classes toward core math credits needed for graduation.

New Mexico Supreme Court Strikes Down Judge's Gag OrderThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court overturned a judge's order barring a newspaper reporter and other people attending an open trial in a high-profile business lawsuit from disclosing information the judge deemed confidential.

The Albuquerque Journal and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government brought the issue to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday after Judge Alan Malott warned the audience at the start of a trial in April that he would jail those who leaked court discussion of financial information involving the Abruzzo family-owned Alvarado Realty.

The newspaper's attorneys argued the Albuquerque judge's order was an unconstitutional prior restraint while a lawyer with the state attorney general's office maintained that there were serious privacy concerns in the Abruzzo case.

The Supreme Court panel struck down the order after brief deliberation.

Southeastern New Mexico Voters Reject County Sales Tax HikesThe Associated Press

Voters in a southeastern New Mexico county have rejected two sales tax hikes that would have increased funding for county general purposes and for its detention center.

The residents of Eddy County overwhelmingly voted down the separate gross receipts taxes that were less than a percentage point in a special election on Tuesday.

County commissioners approved ordinances to install three sales tax increases in May. Residents then gathered enough petition signatures to put two of three sales tax hikes to a public vote.

County officials say they are disappointed by the results and staffing issues at the detention center persist. 15 staff positions were previously frozen due to funding issues.

Detention center officials say they are working with the county on finding an alternative funding solution.

Regulators Approve Sacred Wind Solar ProposalThe Associated Press

Residents in some of the most remote corners of the Navajo Nation will have access to phone and internet service under a plan approved by New Mexico utility regulators.

The Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a plan by Sacred Wind Communications to use the New Mexico Universal Service Fund to help pay for individual solar units that can be used on homes without electricity.

Officials say the units can power a wireless subscriber antenna, a voice and broadband modem, a computer and at least one desk lamp.

Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy says at least 150 homes on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico will benefit from the technology.

The service fund will cover half the cost of the solar unit. Sacred Wind will cover the other half.

University To Establish Center To Work On Behavioral HealthAssociated Press

The University of New Mexico will use a $7 million federal grant to establish a new center to develop ways to improve delivery of behavioral health services in areas where services need to be bolstered.

University officials say the research funded by the five-year grant from a branch of the National Institutes of Health will initially focus on populations of Native Americans and immigrant Hispanics in the Southwest.

Associate Professor Lisa Cacari Stone will direct the new center. She says a team of researchers in multiple disciplines will study how historical trauma, adverse childhood experiences and the combined effects of poverty and discrimination affect behavioral health.

Cacari Stone says successful research could help reduce youth suicide, substance abuse and depression in vulnerable populations.

New Mexico Governor Calls Unpaid Lunch A MisunderstandingAssociated Press

A waitress at a Santa Fe restaurant says New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez picked up a take-out lunch meal and left without paying the bill — in what the governor's office has called a misunderstanding.

Waitress Clarissa Lucero said she watched Martinez crumple up the lunch bill, throw it in a wastebasket and walk out of Five Star Burgers with a bison burger early Wednesday afternoon. The 20-year-old waitress says a man accompanying the governor at lunch returned at about 7 p.m. to pay with a card and left a $4 tip.

The Santa Fe Reporter first published the story on its website.

A spokesman for the governor, Joe Cueto, called the events an "obviously honest misunderstanding" without describing what happened. Lucero says the explanation does not make sense and that Martinez should apologize in person.

US, Mexico Reach Deal On Colorado River WaterAssociated Press

The U.S. and Mexico have unveiled a new agreement to preserve water for millions of households and farms that depend on the overused Colorado River.

The two nations formally announced a deal Wednesday that commits the United States to invest $31.5 million in water conservation projects in Mexico.

The agreement sets aside some Colorado River water for environmental restoration, and it calls on the two countries and a coalition of charitable foundations to contribute a total of $18 million for restoration, research and monitoring.

Both countries agreed to work on contingency plans to deal with any shortages of water in the river amid drought and climate change.

The agreement is an amendment to a 1944 treaty that governs how the U.S. and Mexico manage the river, which flows through both nations.

District Attorney To New Mexico Lawmakers: You Must Act NowAssociated Press

The top prosecutor in New Mexico's busiest judicial district is telling legislators that the situation is growing dire and that the state's troubled criminal justice system needs to be reformed urgently.

District Attorney Raul Torrez presented a series of charts outlining crime rates nationally, across New Mexico and in the Albuquerque area. When it came to the rates of auto thefts, property crimes, violent crimes and murder, Albuquerque far outpaced other areas between 2013 and 2016.

Torrez spokes Wednesday to members of a special legislative panel that is studying New Mexico's criminal justice system.

Torrez says the patterns that have developed in recent years indicate New Mexico's most populous area is headed in the wrong direction. He blamed the crime wave, a lack of resources and court rules that mandate how his office must manage its caseload.

Regulators Approve Sacred Wind Solar ProposalAssociated Press

Residents in some of the most remote corners of the Navajo Nation will have access to phone and internet service under a plan approved by New Mexico utility regulators.

The Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a plan by Sacred Wind Communications to use the New Mexico Universal Service Fund to help pay for individual solar units that can be used on homes without electricity.

Officials say the units can power a wireless subscriber antenna, a voice and broadband modem, a computer and at least one desk lamp.

Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy says at least 150 homes on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico will benefit from the technology.

The service fund will cover half the cost of the solar unit. Sacred Wind will cover the other half.

New Mexico Highlands University Athletic Director ResignsLas Vegas Optic, Associated Press

New Mexico Highlands University's athletic director has resigned.

University spokesman Sean Weaver says Bob Clifford turned in his resignation letter Tuesday and it was effective immediately. Clifford had served in the position since 2015.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that it's is not clear whether Clifford left on his own accord and the university did not immediately disclose whether Clifford will receive any severance package or contract buyout.

Men's basketball coach Craig Snow is taking over as interim athletic director as the university searches for a replacement.

Family Of Boy Killed By Gator Helps Kids Getting TransplantsAssociated Press

The family of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy who was killed by an alligator last year at Walt Disney World has created a foundation to help families with children receiving organ transplants.

Matt Graves said Wednesday that the Lane Thomas Foundation will help pay travel and living expenses for families with children being treated in Omaha at Children's Hospital or the Nebraska Medical Center.

Graves says after their son Lane's death, they wanted to help other families fighting for their children's lives.

Violeta Miranda of Albuquerque said the money from the foundation helped alleviate her worries about expenses back home in New Mexico and focus on her 10-year-old son, who is recovering from a multi-organ transplant of a liver, small bowel and pancreas.

An alligator grabbed little Lane, who was playing on a beach outside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and dragged him into a lake. His body was found 16 hours later. His death was ruled an accident.

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