KUNM News Update
7:32 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Monday News Roundup: Hanna Skandera Nomination Stalls In Committee

Hanna Skandera Nomination Stalls In Committee  The Associated Press

UPDATE 12:30 - A Senate panel has bottled up the nomination of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's secretary for the Public Education Department.

The Rules Committee split 5-5 Monday on whether to send the nomination of Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera to the Senate for a confirmation vote.

The deadlock means that Skandera will continue to serve in her cabinet-level post without Senate confirmation, just as he has since 2011.

Skandera has drawn criticism because of the governor's education policies and critics contend she doesn't meet a constitutional requirement for the department secretary to be a "qualified, experienced educator."

Skandera hasn't worked as a public school teacher or administrator. She was a deputy commissioner of education in Florida when Jeb Bush was governor.

After the vote, Skandera called it a "day of politics."

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A Senate panel is to consider whether Public Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera meets the constitutional requirements for a job she's held since 2011.

The Rules Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing Monday for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's nominee to run the Public Education Department.

The panel considered Skandera's nomination last year but never voted on whether to recommend her confirmation by the Senate.

Educational union officials and other opponents contend that Skandera doesn't meet a constitutional requirement for the department secretary to be a "qualified, experienced educator."

Skandera hasn't worked as a teacher or administrator in a public school. She was a senior policy adviser to former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and a deputy commissioner of education in the Florida when Jeb Bush was governor.

Navajo Panel To Hold Hearing On Discrimination -​ The Associated Press

A Navajo panel on human rights is inviting tribal members to testify about gender discrimination experienced by women, gays and lesbians in the community.

The Farmington Daily Times reports  the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday at the Shiprock Chapter House.

Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Human Rights Commission office, says the commission has received reports from international human rights groups that indigenous women are experiencing a rise in acts of violence.

Gorman says the hearing also wants to address discrimination against bisexual, transgender and queer members.

Gorman says the commission will also take written testimony.

The hearing will runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's the last in a series of public hearings. There were two others in Arizona.

Senate Budget Adds Money For Governor's Proposals - The Associated Press

A Senate panel has approved a $6.2 billion budget package and provided additional money for education initiatives of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously endorsed the budget on Sunday and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

The panel added $17.5 million for administration school programs. Republicans on the committee said the goal was to give the Public Education Department some flexibility to work with school districts on initiatives to improve educational performance.

The budget provides for a $293 million or 5 percent increase in spending in the fiscal year starting in July.

The committee's proposal is an attempt to break an impasse over the budget and avoid a possible special session.

 

A budget bill failed in the House, with Republicans saying it shortchanged Martinez's school proposals.

New Mexico Concealed Handgun Licenses Double In 2013 - The Associated Press 

Government records show that more than twice as many concealed carry permits were issued in New Mexico last year when state and federal policymakers considered whether to tighten firearms laws.

The Department of Public Safety issued 10,601 licenses in 2013 compared with 4,793 the previous year, according to state records obtained by The Associated Press.

The state issued an average of about 4,500 licenses annually from 2008 to 2012.

Firearms instructors attribute last year's license increase partly to a push by the Legislature and Congress for new gun laws, including stricter criminal background checks on people who buy firearms and proposals to ban military-style assault weapons.

New Mexico allows concealed handgun permits for residents who are 21 or older and complete a firearms training course and a criminal background check.

Crews Monitors New Mexico Nuclear Site For Radiation - The Associated Press 

The U.S. Department of Energy stressed Sunday that no surface contamination has been found after airborne radiation was detected underground at a southeastern New Mexico site where the government stores low-grade nuclear waste.

The department says that tests were taken at several sites around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after a monitor found radiation on underground levels late Friday night.

No workers were underground and no injuries or damages have been reported.

A news release Sunday reflected information provided Saturday and said the "DOE emphasizes there is no danger to human health or the environment."

Officials say the source of the radiation is still being investigated, but they don't know when crews will go underground at the nation's only deep geologic waste repository.

An underground vehicle fire at the site earlier this month prompted an evacuation, but officials don't think the two events are related.