Martinez Appeals Ruling On Vetoes, Navajo Housing Authority Forfeits $26M

Oct 5, 2017

New Mexico Governor Appeals Ruling On Voided VetoesThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is appealing a state judge's decision to void her vetoes on 10 bills that cleared the Legislature with little to no opposition earlier this year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the case is headed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals after the Republican governor's attorney filed a notice of appeal earlier this week.

Martinez vetoed the 10 bills without explanation resulting in legislators filing suit against the governor. The Democratic lawmakers cited a section of the New Mexico Constitution that requires the governor to offer reason for vetoing bills while legislators are in session.

State District Judge Sarah Singleton agreed with the legislators and issued a decision the August.

The bills became law last week.

Navajo Housing Authority To Forfeit $26M After SettlementThe Associated Press

The Navajo Housing Authority will forfeit $26 million of the $96 million in federal dollars it was awarded for affordable housing projects as part of a settlement.

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development had accused the housing authority of failing to use the federal funds to complete affordable home projects in 2012 as it had planned.

An investigation by the Arizona Republic found that the housing authority had a history of wasteful spending. Many of the newspaper's findings were later backed up by U.S. Sen. John McCain's office.

According to a statement from housing authority released Tuesday, the $26 million will put back into the housing funding pool and will be counted in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act allocation in 2018.

Money Flows Fast To GOP Candidate For New Mexico GovernorThe Associated Press

Republican Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico says his campaign for governor has raised more than $1 million in less than three months.

Pearce said in a news release Thursday his campaign has received money from at least 930 contributors ahead of 2018 primary and general elections.

The Pearce campaign has not yet made public its list of contributors and other detailed financial information due Monday at the Secretary of State's Office.

Meanwhile, five nonprofit advocacy groups are criticizing Pearce's approach to public land issues in a project called "Step Up Steve" that includes online publicity and radio and print media advertisements.

The effort is backed by the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, OLE Education Fund, Hispanic Access Foundation, Progress Now New Mexico and Vet Voice Foundation.

University Of New Mexico Close To Naming President FinalistsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

University of New Mexico faculty members tried to put a hold on the university's presidential search during a recent meeting, but the Board of Regents decided it's moving forward with naming finalists.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Rob Doughty, the board's president, said the five finalists could be named as soon as this week.

The university's 22nd president should be named by November. Bob Frank, the previous president, left the office last year.

Faculty Senate President Pamela Pyle in August began urging regents to delay the hiring. The faculty wanted to keep interim President Chaouki Abdallah at the helm an extra year to lend stability to a budget-crunched institution amid rapid leadership turnover and a pending accreditation process.

New Mexico City May Allow Workers To Carry Concealed WeaponsKOB-TV, Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico city is weighing whether to allow its employees to carry concealed weapons at work.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports the Roswell City Council is scheduled next week to vote on a concealed weapons measure. Supporters say the new option will keep employees safe.

Under the proposal, Roswell employees who complete requirements to obtain a concealed carry license will have the option to carry a gun.

Nearby Eddy and Otero counties already allow their employees to carry a concealed weapon while on the job.

Struggling New Mexico County To Get Employee Dress CodeGallup Independent, Associated Press

The manager of a struggling western New Mexico county says she wants to impose a dress code on employees amid the chaos.

The Gallup Independent reports Interim Cibola County Manager Valerie Taylor told commissioners last week she's banning flip-flops, T-shirts, and jeans. Taylor says the county dress code is now business casual.

The decision comes after the cash-strapped county cut the sheriff's fuel budget in half, ceased allocations for nonprofits, and adopted employee furloughs.

County Clerk Michelle Dominguez asked commissioners if the new dress code restrictions came with an allowance for new clothes.

Chairman Jack Moleres said an allowance is not in the budget.

Taylor says she expects employees to come dressed appropriately.

But Dominguez says staff already knew not to arrive like "a hobo off the street."

New Mexico College: Pay Some Tickets With Peanut ButterLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

New Mexico State University is allowing motorists to take a bite out of certain parking tickets by paying with peanut butter.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the school recently announced motorists who have received a "no current permit" parking citation can pay it with at least 80 ounces of peanut butter from Oct. 23 to 27.

All peanut butter donations will be sent to the Aggie Cupboard, a food pantry.

The offer is limited to the first 100 customers.

Officials say appealing the citation forfeits the right to pay with peanut butter.

New Mexico Land Swap Revived At National MonumentAssociated Press

New Mexico is moving forward with a proposed land swap that would hand over state holdings within a national monument and wilderness area to the U.S. Interior Department in return for scattered federal holdings that can provide the state with greater lease income.

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced Wednesday that the proposal was back on track to divest state holdings within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and Sabinoso Wilderness Area.

Years-long negotiations were suspended as President Donald Trump ordered a review of national monument designations across the country by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Dunn says the exchange would boost state income and improve federal recreation areas.

Under a signed agreement, land appraisals are required and subject to public review, along with environmental assessments.

State Quiet On Origins Of Proposed School Science StandardsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The New Mexico Public Education Department is not providing specifics on the origin of proposed changes to the state's science standards.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Tuesday that department officials say several different groups provided input, but they have declined to name the groups. Critics have questioned the agency's transparency as a result.

The standards are based on a set developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences, but the state has proposed several custom additions and deletions that have drawn criticism. The standard changes substitute references to climate change, omit the age of the earth and limit references to evolution.

Department officials say they are forming an implementation plan, and they will consider any feedback from a public hearing scheduled for this month.

Western Governors Agree To Build Charging Station NetworkAssociated Press

Western governors say electric vehicles will be able to travel easier across 5,000 miles of highway under a new agreement promising to build a network of charging stations in seven states.

The governors of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming announced Wednesday they had signed a memorandum of understanding to create a regional electric vehicle plan.

According to the agreement, governors will coordinate charging station locations and create voluntary minimum standards for station operations and management.

Idaho Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter says the initiative will allow locals and visitors to explore the West using the vehicle they prefer.

The agreement was signed at the Energy Innovation Summit hosted by the National Governors Association.

Currently, more than 20,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are used on roads in western states

Gov. Appeals Ruling That Invalidated Her VetoesSanta Fe New Mexican

Gov. Susana Martinez filed notice this week she is appealing a judge’s decision that overturned her vetoes of 10 bills during the last legislative session.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Martinez has hired attorney Paul Kennedy in an effort to reverse Judge Sarah Singleton’s ruling.

Singleton had overturned the governor's vetoes in August and ruled that Martinez did not follow the proper constitutional procedures when she vetoed the bills

The bills were enacted into law and open the way for industrial hemp research and allowing high school students to count computer classes toward core math credits.

The New Mexican reports the future of those laws could be in question as the governor’s appeal now goes to the New Mexico Court of Appeals in a process that could take months.