NM Lawmakers Approve Industrial Hemp Research, State Senate Panel Oks 'Right To Die' Bill

Mar 4, 2017

New Mexico Lawmakers Approve Industrial Hemp Research—Associated Press

A bill to create a research program for the industrial production of hemp in New Mexico is headed to the governor's desk for consideration.

The legislation was approved by the Senate on a 30-12 vote Friday and now goes to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez for consideration.

The bill would require the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to set up an industrial hemp research program to study the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. A more restrictive Senate bill is making its way through the Legislature.

Thirty-one states have authorized hemp research, while actual production occurred in 15 states last year.

Hemp is prized for its oils, seeds and fiber. The 2014 federal farm bill allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development.

The Latest: New Mexico Senate Panel Oks 'Right To Die' Bill—Associated Press

A proposal that would allow terminally ill patients in New Mexico to end their lives with help from doctors cleared its first test in the state Senate.

The Democratic-controlled Senate Public Affairs Committee voted Friday move a bill opposed by the Catholic Church and Gov. Susana Martinez. The measure would prevent New Mexico doctors from facing prosecution for helping terminally ill patients end their lives.

Six other states and the District of Columbia allow residents to end their lives legally with medication prescribed by a physician.

In June, the New Mexico Supreme Court refused to overturn a state law preventing doctors from ending the lives of terminally ill patients.

New Mexico's assisted suicide law makes it a felony for doctors to end the life of a terminally ill patient.

The Latest: House Panel Oks Solitary Confinement Bill—Associated Press

A measure aimed at curbing the use of solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the state has passed another legislative hurdle.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday split along party lines, with Democrats issuing a favorable recommendation. The legislation will now go to the full House for consideration. A similar measure is stalled in the Senate pending more negotiations.

The legislation would prohibit the use of solitary confinement for inmates younger than 18, female inmates known to be pregnant and those who have a serious mental illness.

It also would require regular reporting by all correctional facilities on the inmates who are held in isolation. Aside from numbers, the reports would have to include specific details about inmates' circumstances and how long they were held in segregation.

New Mexico Lawmakers Push For Rural Broadband Expansion—Associated Press

Legislation designed to expand broadband internet access to the farthest reaches of New Mexico is headed to the governor for consideration.

The state Senate approved a trio of bills Friday designed to accelerate expansion of broadband infrastructure.

One bill is being sent to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez that would ensure an opportunity to insert broadband conduit underground any time trenches are dug to access utility lines.

Final House approval still is pending on a bill that would shore up a fund overseen by the Public Regulation Commission to spur investment in broadband infrastructure projects. That bill could change the current 5 percent charge on telephone-service bills to a flat rate.

A third broadband bill seeks to attract federal funding for broadband projects and help connect Native American tribes.

Museum To Host Exhibit Of Latina's Civil Rights Photography

Mexican-American photographer Maria Varela was present at some of the most dramatic moments during the Civil Rights Movement.

Now the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago is set to feature the Albuquerque resident's rarely seen photography of the movement in an exhibition called "Time to Get Ready: Fotographía Social."

The 28 photos will highlight Varela's snapshots of life during Jim Crow's final days.

Varela was a witness to history as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She says she rarely photographed famous leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and instead focused on local organizers.

Cesareo Moreno, the museum's visual arts director, says the exhibit will cover Varela's work from Mississippi voting rights protests to photographs she took of New Mexico activists fighting for land rights.

Miriam Colon, Iconic US Latina Movie, Theater Actress, Dies—Associated Press

Miriam Colon, an icon in U.S. Latino theater who starred in films alongside Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, has died.

Her husband, Fred Valle, told The Associated Press that Colon died early Friday because of complications from a pulmonary infection. She was 80 years old.

Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Colon came to Los Angeles in the 1950s to study at the Actors Studio before earning roles in various films. She eventually founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York where she helped cultivate young Latino actors and writers.

She is widely known as the mother of Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, in the 1983 movie "Scarface."

Colon earned acclaim for her role as the New Mexico Hispanic healer, Ultima, in the 2013 movie "Bless Me, Ultima" based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya.