Local News
6:41 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Monday News Roundup: NM Prisoner Segregation Under Review

Audit Proposes NM Health Benefits Super Agency- The Associated Press

Legislative auditors are recommending that health care benefits for public employees and educators be administered by a single government agency.

A Legislative Finance Committee audit called last week for merging the self-funded health insurance operations for state and local government workers, public school and higher education employees.

Auditors said a consolidated agency would be in a stronger position to negotiate provider rates and control costs because of its joint buying power for health benefits.

Auditors recommended merging the state's Risk Management Division, the Public School Insurance Authority and health insurance operations in Albuquerque Public Schools.

The school authority opposes creating a health benefits "super agency" and APS says an independent study is needed of the consolidation proposal. Gov. Susana Martinez's administration hasn't decided whether to support the merger proposal.

 

NM Prisoner Segregation Under Review - Associated Press

The head of New Mexico's Corrections Department says he's aiming to cut the number of state prisoners who are living in segregation by roughly half over the next year.

Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel outlined his plan Friday while testifying before a legislative committee as state and county officials responded to a recent report that criticized New Mexico's widespread use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails.

The Albuquerque Journal reports nearly 10 percent of the state's 7,000 prisoners are living in segregation. That means they're locked down alone for up to 23 hours a day.

A recent report from the ACLU of New Mexico and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says the practice of solitary confinement is in need of reform.

Feds Set Aside Habitat For Rare NM Salamander - Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials have designated more than 140 square miles in northern New Mexico as critical habitat for the Jemez Mountain salamander.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the area spans parts of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Sandoval counties.

The salamander was listed as an endangered species in September. Biologists say the primary threats include habitat loss or degradation caused by wildfires, current fire management practices and climate change.

Most of the land designated as critical habitat is federal. There are about 2,800 acres that are private property.

The agency prepared both an economic and environmental analyses of the designation of critical habitat. The agency says no changes in economic activity or land or water management are expected to result from the critical habitat designation.

Audit Proposes NM Health Benefits Super Agency - Associated Press

Legislative auditors are recommending that health care benefits for public employees and educators be administered by a single government agency.

A Legislative Finance Committee audit called last week for merging the self-funded health insurance operations for state and local government workers, public school and higher education employees.

Auditors said a consolidated agency would be in a stronger position to negotiate provider rates and control costs because of its joint buying power for health benefits.

Auditors recommended merging the state's Risk Management Division, the Public School Insurance Authority and health insurance operations in Albuquerque Public Schools.

The school authority opposes creating a health benefits "super agency" and APS says an independent study is needed of the consolidation proposal. Gov. Susana Martinez's administration hasn't decided whether to support the merger proposal.

Oil And Gas Lease Sale In NM Nets $11 Million - Associated Press

The federal Bureau of Land Management has netted more than $11 million in its latest oil and natural gas lease sale in New Mexico.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that 17 parcels of public land totaling 5,554 acres were sold in southeastern New Mexico, including two parcels in Eddy County.

The federal government keeps 52 percent of net revenues and distributes the other 48 percent back to the state.

All $5.28 million of New Mexico's share is used to fund education.

The sale took in about half of the $22 million raised by the previous auction held by the federal agency in July.

The next lease auction for land in Southeastern New Mexico is scheduled for July 2014.