Friday News Roundup: Marijuana Legalization Before New Mexico Senate Panel
Marijuana legalization before NM Senate panel - The Associated Press
New Mexico lawmakers are preparing to debate whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
The Senate Rules Committee is expected to consider a proposal Friday to allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana for those 21 years of age and older.
The question of legalizing marijuana would be decided by voters in the general election if lawmakers approve the proposed constitutional amendment.
However, the measure is likely to face difficulty in the Legislature and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez opposes marijuana legalization.
Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana. Pot stores opened in Colorado last month, and sales should start in Washington later this year.
If New Mexico voters end up approving the proposal, it would be left to legislators to decide how to regulate and tax marijuana.
Bill would make increase poaching penalties - The Associated Press
Penalties for poaching big game in New Mexico would increase under a bill moving through the Legislature.
The House Health, Government and Indian Affairs committee voted unanimously Thursday to crack down on hunters who illegally kill bighorn sheep, ibex, oryx, Barbary sheep, elk, deer and pronghorn antelope. State officials say at least 100 such animals are killed in New Mexico every year for their heads, horns or antlers.
Poaching the animals would become a fourth-degree felony under the bill by Republican Rep. Alonzo Baldonado of Valencia.
A fourth degree felony carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000.
Work resumes at nuke repository following fire - The Associated Press
Work has resumed at southeastern New Mexico's nuclear waste repository. But officials say they don't yet know what caused the truck fire that forced an evacuation of the underground site.
A spokesman says an investigation will be conducted at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where low level waste from the nation's nuclear weapons plants is stored in salt beds.
The site was evacuated and six people were treated for smoke inhalation after a truck hauling salt caught fire Wednesday.
New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce characterized the event as a minor. And he emphasized that the fire never threatened radioactive waste or public safety.
WIPP is the nation's first and only deep geological nuclear waste repository. It takes plutonium-contaminated waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear projects.
New Mexico Budget Splits House Committee Along Party Lines - The Associated Press
A budget proposal to increase spending on public education and state government programs by $280 million next year is heading to the House for consideration.
The Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the measure yesterday on a 10-7 party-line vote.
Republicans opposed the measure, saying it lacks money for too many of GOP Gov. Susana Martinez's education initiatives and shrinks the state's cash reserves.
The committee vote foreshadows a likely partisan split over the budget in the House. Democrats will need to unify their ranks to muster the votes to approve the measure.
The proposed budget would allocate $6.2 billion for schools, colleges and programs ranging from prisons to health care in the fiscal year that starts in July. The measure would increase spending by 4.8 percent over the current state budget.