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NM AG Joining Suit Over Net Neutrality, Gallup Drops Panhandling Ordinance

Dec 15, 2017

New Mexico Attorney General Joining Suit Over Net NeutralityThe Associated Press

New Mexico's attorney general is joining top prosecutors in other states suing the Federal Communications Commission for repealing "net neutrality" rules.

Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas on Friday called the FCC decision an "un-American attack on a free and open internet" that will harm New Mexico consumers and families.

Foes worry companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon will either charge for fast service or cut speeds for content they don't earn money from. The companies say that won't happen.

The planned lawsuit will be led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The Republican-controlled FCC voted Thursday to scrap an Obama-era rule that guaranteed equal access to the internet. Chairman Ajit Pai says his plan eliminates unnecessary regulation.

Gallup Drops Panhandling Ordinance Over Free-Speech ConcernsThe Associated Press

The city of Gallup is repealing a panhandling ordinance that a civil rights group says violates freedom of speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said Friday that the city attorney sent a memo to the police chief instructing the department no longer arrest or cite panhandlers.

According to the memo, which the ACLU made available, City Attorney Curtis Hayes says a court would likely find the ordinance unconstitutional.

Hayes says the city still needs some kind of statute to prevent panhandling.

Gallup attorney Barry Klopfer first brought the measure to the group's attention, arguing panhandling qualifies as protected speech.

The City Attorney's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The ACLU is also questioning a similar ordinance that the Albuquerque City Council approved last month.

Legislature Outlines New Anti-Harassment RulesThe Associated Press

Sexual harassment complaints against New Mexico state lawmakers would be investigated by a panel of legislators under proposed revisions to the Legislature's anti-harassment policy.

The Legislature on Friday published its first draft of possible revisions to its rules and disciplinary procedures against sexual harassment at the Statehouse in response to concerns that widespread misconduct has gone unchecked.

The proposal provides procedures for filing complaints against lawmakers, legislative staff, and lobbyists or other people who visit the state Capitol.

Complaints against lawmakers would be reviewed by the speaker of the House or Senate president and possibly referred to an ethics subcommittee. Sanctions including reprimand, censure or expulsion are determined by entire House or Senate. Provisions for appeals have been left blank.

The draft provides new, detailed descriptions of what constitutes harassment or sexual harassment.

School Shooting Victim Remembered At MemorialThe Associated Press

Dozens of mourners gathered to remember a 17-year-old boy who was killed during a shooting rampage at a New Mexico high school.

The memorial service Friday for Francisco "Paco" Fernandez at the Pinon Hills Community Church in Farmington lasted about two hours.

Some supporters then gathered on sidewalks to watch a procession of lowrider and custom cars escort family members to the cemetery.

Fernandez and Casey Jordan Marquez were killed Dec. 7 when a gunman opened fire inside Aztec High School shortly after first period began. Authorities say the gunman had planned to attack the school but that the two victims were not specifically targeted.

Fernandez and Casey Jordan Marquez were killed Dec. 7 when a gunman opened fire inside Aztec High School shortly after first period began. Authorities say the gunman had planned to attack the school but that the two victims were not specifically targeted.

A memorial service for Marquez is scheduled for Sunday.

Fernandez's family says he loved sports and playing video games in his spare time.

Former State Employee Sentenced To Unsupervised ProbationThe Associated Press

A former state employee accused of punching a subordinate and keeping her from contacting his supervisor during the confrontation has been sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Thursday that a battery charge against former state Human Service Department supervisor Donald Ortega was dropped in exchange for a no contest plea to a charge of interfering with communications.

Under a no contest plea, a defendant doesn't admit guilt but also doesn't dispute the charges.

Ursula Montano accused Ortega of punching her and preventing her from reporting the incident to his supervisor.

Montano's lawyer Linda Hemphill says the deal was made without Montano's knowledge.

Santa Fe Police Department spokesman Greg Gurule says the deal had to be made quickly so the case wouldn't be dismissed.

New Mexico Lawmakers Unveil First Bills For 2018Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are beginning to file legislative proposals for the upcoming legislative session that starts in January.

Friday marks the first day to introduce bills for a 30-day legislative session that begins on Jan. 15. Anti-crime proposals and budgetary changes are expected to dominate the agenda.

Second-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is preparing for her final year in office and is expected to back public safety legislation and push other longstanding priorities such as tax reform.

The Democratic-led Legislature will be racing to extend an agreement that allows nurses licensed in New Mexico to work in participating states and vice versa.

New Mexico's abbreviated legislative sessions in even-numbered years are focused on taxation and spending decisions. The governor has the authority to add other policy priorities to the agenda.

White House To Push Merit-Based Immigration In New Campaign - By Zeke Miller And Jill Colvin, Associated Press

The White House is embarking on a major campaign to turn public opinion against the nation's largely family-based immigration system ahead of an all-out push next year to move toward a more merit-based structure.

The administration was laying the groundwork for such a drive even before an Islamic State-inspired extremist who was born in Bangladesh tried to blow himself up in Midtown Manhattan on Monday. It is assembling data to bolster the argument that the current legal immigration system is not only ill-conceived, but dangerous.

White House officials outlined their strategy this week exclusively to The Associated Press.

But the effort will play out in a difficult political climate, as even Republicans in Congress are leery of engaging in a major immigration debate ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Navajo Code Talker Teddy Draper Sr. Dies In Arizona At 96 Associated Press

A Navajo Code Talker who used his native language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II has died in Arizona.

Navajo Nation officials say Teddy Draper Sr. died Thursday at age 96 in the small city of Prescott.

Tribal officials say Draper lived in Chinle, Arizona.

Draper and other Navajos followed in the footsteps of the original 29 who developed the code.

He was part of the 5th Marine Division, fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and received a Purple Heart as well as a Congressional Silver Medal.

Funeral plans were pending and a list of Draper's survivors wasn't immediately available Thursday.

Draper's death came nine days after another Navajo Code Talker, George B. Willie Sr., died in Arizona at age 92.

Santa Fe Seeks State Supreme Court Decision On Voting SystemAssociated Press

Santa Fe officials have asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to weigh in on ranked-choice voting, seeking to overturn a judge's recent order that the city must use the voting system for municipal elections in March.

The city filed an emergency appeal on Wednesday, claiming the system is unconstitutional under state law.

Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff, allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference on the ballot. The order of preferences whittles down the candidates until there's a clear winner.

Santa Fe voters approved a city charter amendment for ranked-choice voting in 2008. The city council voted in July to postpone the system due to concerns about implementation.

Residents then sued the city, and a lower court ruled in favor of the residents.

Lawmakers Begin Revising Policy On Sexual HarassmentAssociated Press

The New Mexico Legislature is rewriting its policy against sexual harassment in response to concerns that widespread misconduct has gone unchecked.

A panel of lawmakers plans to publish and discuss a first draft of proposed anti-harassment rules on Friday in Santa Fe.

The current policy was adopted in 2008 and relies on the heads of legislative agencies or chief clerks to vet complaints. Several women who work in the Statehouse as lobbyists or lawmakers say investigations should instead be handled by an independent authority outside the Legislature to guard against retaliation and ensure fairness.

New accounts of previously unreported harassment include accusations by registered lobbyist Vanessa Alarid that a former House lawmaker offered to vote for bill in 2009 if she would have sex with him.

School Shooting Victim To Be Remembered During MemorialAssociated Press

Thousands of people are expected to gather for a memorial service for one of two 17-year-old classmates killed during a shooting rampage at a New Mexico high school.

The service for Francisco "Paco" Fernandez will be Friday at the Pinon Hills Community Church in Farmington. A stream of lowrider and custom cars is expected to escort the family to the cemetery following the service.

Fernandez and Casey Jordan Marquez were killed Dec. 7 when a gunman opened fire inside Aztec High School shortly after first period began. Authorities say the gunman had planned to attack the school but that the two victims were not specifically targeted.

A memorial service for Marquez is scheduled for Sunday.

Fernandez's family says he loved sports and playing video games in his spare time.

New Sick Leave Ordinance In Works For AlbuquerqueAlbuquerque Journal

Two Albuquerque city councilors plan to introduce a modified sick leave ordinance that changes some of the controversial provisions in a previous ballot initiative.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Democrat Ken Sanchez and Republican Don Harris said sick leave is critical for workers but must be balanced with the needs of businesses.

Voters narrowly defeated a sick leave initiative in October. Unlike that proposal, this new ordinance would not apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees or to temporary workers.

It also takes out a provision that assumed any action taken against an employee within 90 days after that employee used sick leave was retaliation.

The bill will be introduced to the City Council on Monday.

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