Rallies Focus On Possible Health Care Act Repeal, NMSU Eliminated 727 Jobs

Jan 16, 2017

Protestors Rally Against Repeal Of Affordable Care Act – KRQE-TV, Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Protestors gathered Sunday outside the University of New Mexico Hospital joining similar rallies around the country in protesting the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

KRQE-TV reports U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., spoke at the rally and said Republicans don’t have a replacement plan. The march was part of a national action developed by former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., joined faith and community leaders at a townhall in Santa Fe Sunday that drew about 400 people. He urged New Mexicans to fight against the potential repeal of the ACA.

Luján and others said a repeal would bring job losses in the state and barriers to receiving healthcare.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to overturn and replace the Affordable Care Act. Majority Republicans in Congress last week began the process of repealing it using a budget maneuver that requires a bare majority in the Senate.

NMSU Eliminated 727 Jobs At Las Cruces Campus Since 2011The Associated Press & Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico State University has eliminated 727 faculty and staff positions at its Las Cruces campus since 2011 due in part to a steady decline in enrollment and state appropriations.

Chancellor Garrey Carruthers told the Las Cruces Sun-News that the need to examine the staffing levels and "right-size" the university was apparent before enrollment and appropriations became an issue.

The university in 2015 contracted with a consulting firm to examine staffing levels and organization structures on the campus. The study found the school to be top-heavy, with too many managers overseeing too few employees. A campus-wide reorganization is nearing completion.

All told, the university has eliminated 64 faculty positions and 663 staff positions since 2011 — a reduction of more than $17 million per year in payroll.

New Mexico Legislation Would Spare Some Bears That AttackThe Associated Press 

New Mexico lawmakers may scrap and rewrite regulations that currently mandate the euthanizing of bears and other wild animals that attack a human so that animals can be tested for rabies.

A bill has been pre-filed as the Legislature convenes Tuesday that would give health and wildlife officials the ability to consider the current risk of rabies and also whether the animal acted in self-defense.

Los Alamos resident Karen Williams says she helped develop the legislation after being attacked in northern New Mexico by a mother bear that she believes was acting in defense of her two young cubs. The bear was captured and destroyed, and the cubs were eventually re-released in the wild.

The proposed legislation follows rabies assessments from the federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

Snow, Rain, Icy Conditions On Many Roads Around New Mexico – Associated Press

Snow, rain and icy conditions have caused havoc on some roads and highways around New Mexico.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until Monday afternoon for numerous mountainous areas, including the Sandias near Albuquerque and ranges near Ruidoso, Taos, Raton and Gallup.

Forecasters say precipitation amounts of 1 to 2 inches are likely, producing minor to moderate rises of water in arroyos and small streams and the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico.

Department of Transportation officials say almost all state roadways are reported wet as of Sunday morning with some slick spots.

Budget Crisis Steers Legislative Agenda In New MexicoBy Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are confronting budget shortfalls, frustration over a weak economy, and concerns about violent crime and school performance as they convene for a 60-day session.

The session begins Tuesday with a fresh slate of Democratic majority leaders in the House of Representatives, where Republicans lost majority control in November elections, and the Senate.

Policymakers are preparing to extend recent agency budget cuts into the coming year to address a deficit and plunging tax revenues linked to a downturn in the oil and natural gas industry.

GOP Gov. Susana Martinez and allied lawmakers are insisting the budget crunch can be resolved without raising taxes by streamlining government and reducing government pension contributions.

House Democrats are promising a slate of proposals designed to spur economic growth, while seeking a statewide minimum wage.

Lawmakers also are taking up hot-button issues of gun control and could join efforts to overhaul the presidential electoral college in response to Donald Trump's victory.

New Mexico Leaders Outraged Over EPA's Response To ClaimsAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Attorney General Hector Balderas and other top officials are angry with the federal government's decision not to pay claims related to a 2015 mine spill that tainted rivers in three western states.

The Republican governor said Friday that this marks another insult by the Obama administration and serves as another example of why people have lost faith in the federal government.

Balderas, a Democrat, accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of re-victimizing the state and the Navajo Nation by not taking full responsibility for triggering the spill of 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater from the Gold King Mine in southern Colorado.

New Mexico was first to sue over the spill.

Both Martinez and Balderas have repeatedly said the EPA should be held to the same standards it would impose on private interests accused of polluting.

County Center To Help Inmates Transition HomeAlbuquerque Journal

The Bernalillo County Commission approved $1 million last week for a center designed to help inmates connect with services when they are released.

The Albuquerque Journal reports inmates in the Metropolitan Detention Center with mental illness, addiction issues and other challenges will be able to go to a re-entry center in downtown Albuquerque upon release.

They will be connected with services to help them transition back to society. A behavioral health tax that took effect last year will pay for the program. Costs include $300,000 to renovate an existing space an about $1 million a year to operate the center.

Martinez Appoints Jablonski To Secretary PostAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday announced she appointed a new corrections department cabinet secretary.

David Jablonski, the current acting secretary, will officially take over the role.

Jablonski previously worked on the governor's executive office staff and was the deputy superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department. He also spent 14 years with the state corrections department.

Bohnhoff To Fill Court Of Appeals VacancyAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed Albuquerque Henry Bohnhoff to fill a vacancy on the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

The appointment announced Friday fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Roderick Kennedy.

Bohnhoff was among seven applicants for the appointment, and he has practiced in many areas of law, including water and natural resources.

Bohnhoff served as New Mexico's chief assistant attorney general and as a deputy attorney general in the late 1980s and since then practiced in the private sector.

Authorities ID Body Found Under I-40 Bridge In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

Authorities have identified the body of a man found under the Interstate 40 bridge in Albuquerque.

Bernalillo County Sheriff's officials say 33-year-old Luis Sanchez appears to have fallen off the bridge.

However, deputies are investigating it as a suspicious death.

They say Sanchez had been dead for several days before being discovered Thursday.

Deputies had to climb more than 60 feet below the bridge to recover the body.

Sheriff's officials say the cause of death hasn't been determined yet and the investigation is ongoing.

Justices Will Hear Venture Capitalist's Appeal Over SEC FineAssociated Press

The Supreme Court will decide whether venture capitalist Charles Kokesh has to return millions in investor dollars he used to pay himself and other advisers.

The justices said Friday they will review lower court rulings that said Kokesh must pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $34.9 million in "ill-gotten gains" taken before his investment funds went broke.

Kokesh argues that the penalty falls outside a five-year statute of limitations.

Kokesh's New Mexico-based operation was geared toward small investors and jump-started dozens of successful businesses. He had argued that investors lost money because of the Great Recession rather than his business practices.

The case is Kokesh v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 16-529.