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Santa Fe Council To Vote On Immigrant Resolution, Plan In Place To Fix Navajo Vets Housing

Feb 22, 2017

Santa Fe City Council To Vote On Immigrant ResolutionThe Associated Press

The Santa Fe City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would affirm the city's immigrant-friendly policies without using the word "sanctuary."

What started out as a rebuke to President Donald Trump's efforts to address illegal immigration, the resolution has been softened and the reference to sanctuary removed.

The resolution will be considered at Wednesday's council meeting as the Trump administration continues to threaten withholding funds from local governments that don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Rather than specifically identify Santa Fe as a sanctuary city, supporters say the resolution affirms the city's status as "a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees."

The resolution also states that the city has the authority to preserve the confidentiality of residents' information, including a person's immigration status.

Navajo officials: Plan In Place To Fix Vets Housing ProgramThe Associated Press

Navajo Nation officials say they have a plan for improving a problem-plagued veterans housing program.

Tribal President Russell Begaye's office says the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration submitted a corrective action plan in response to critical audit findings.

The findings included poor accountability for building materials, selection of ineligible veterans for homes, poor construction management and uninhabitable homes.

Begaye's office says the veterans housing program is revising its policies and procedures to implement the corrective action plan.

New Mexico Senate Confirms Gallagher As Health SecretaryThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has confirmed Lynn Gallagher as the head of the state's public health agency.

The unanimous vote came during Wednesday's floor session.

Gallagher has held the top spot at the state Health Department since March 2016 when she was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez following the death of then-Secretary Retta Ward.

Gallagher's resume included recent stints as deputy health secretary and general counsel for the Long-Term Services Department, after an early career in business and finance in New York and Florida.

The department said Gallagher has been focused on addressing substance misuse, teen births, diabetes and obesity.

Officials say teen birth rates in New Mexico have declined to their lowest level in decades, and the childhood obesity rate continues to trend downward.

Gabby Giffords Steps Into New Mexico Firearms DebateThe Associated Press

Former U.S. Congresswoman and mass shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords is stepping into a tense debate about whether to require background checks on most private gun sales in New Mexico.

Giffords and her national gun-safety advocacy group Americans for Responsible Solutions on Wednesday threw their weight behind efforts to build a broader support in New Mexico for bills designed to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals, perpetrators of domestic violence and the mentally ill.

The New Mexico Legislature is considering two high-profile bills to expand background checks on firearms transactions against a federal database and to remove guns from domestic violence situations where a protective order has been issued.

Bill provisions are being revised after supporter and critics faced off in a series of politically charged hearings.

New Mexico Considers Restricting Guns In Statehouse- Associated Press

Visitors to the New Mexico state capital would no longer be able to openly carry firearms under a bill endorsed by a panel of lawmakers.

The Senate Finance Committee voted to recommend approval of the initiative limiting firearms in the Capitol to law enforcement and concealed-weapon license holders.

New Mexico currently allows both open carry and concealed weapons in the state capital, including on the floors of the Senate and House.

Sponsors of the bill say it responds to people who have felt intimidated by people bringing rifles and other firearms to public hearings.

As sponsor of the bill, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said the changes would preserve a treasured sense of openness in the Capitol without calling for metal detectors or other formal screening for firearms.

New Mexico Senate Panel To Hear Election Primaries Bill- Associated Press

A New Mexico Senate committee is scheduled to debate a measure that would make it easier for independents to vote in primary elections.

The Senate Rules Committee is slated to hear a bill sponsored by Sen. John Sapien that would let voters not affiliated with any political party vote in primary elections by choosing to affiliate by requesting a ballot.

Voters currently have to designate a party affiliation on the voter's certificate of registration.

Under the Bernalillo Democrat's proposal, voter's certificate of registration won't change the voter's party affiliation, but voters can still participate in a party's primary elections.

The measure comes after the New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed an attempt to open major party primary elections to independent voters but left the door open to legislative reforms.

New Mexico Seeks Safeguards Against Faithless Electors-Associated Press

New Mexico may take new precautions to guard against any possible revolt by presidential electors.

The state House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would replace any presidential elector who does not vote for the candidate of the party that nominated them. The bill now moves to the Senate.

The initiative from Democratic Rep. Matthew McQueen also would do away with the New Mexico's felony penalty for "faithless" electors. McQueen says there should not be an option to thwart the will of the electorate.

Despite rumblings of a revolt, only two Republican electors — both from Texas — cast protest votes for someone other than Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton lost four Democratic electors in Washington state and one in Hawaii.

Hillary Clinton won New Mexico's five electoral votes.

Transit Opponents Drop Lawsuit Against ART- Albuquerque Journal

 

A group of opponents have dropped a lawsuit that sought to halt the Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project, or ART.

The Albuquerque Journal reports this followed a ruling against a temporary injunction that tried to stop the project.

The city is creating a nine-mile stretch of bus-only lanes along Central Avenue, also known as historic Route 66. The $119 million project is funded mostly by federal dollars.

Mayor Richard Berry said he was pleased with the outcome and pledged to work with community and business owners during construction.

Yolanda Gallegos, lawyer for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said her clients are concerned about funding for ART and the effect it will have on traffic congestion, safety and local businesses.  She said they hope Berry and the next mayor will consider a redesign of the project.

 

New Mexico Lawmaker Withdraws Bill To Ban Wildlife Traps- Associated Press

A bill that would outlaw the trapping of wildlife on public land in New Mexico is being rewritten in response to criticism at a legislative hearing.

Democratic Sen. Pete Campos of Las Vegas withdrew the initiative Tuesday and said it was unlikely to move through the Legislature this year as he seeks out compromises between supporters and critics.

The proposal is generating intense public interest. Crowds carried props including stuffed animals and a steel trap, as lawmakers discussed whether to adopt misdemeanor and felony penalties for using traps and snares. Exceptions included scientific research and traps used to protect crops and livestock.

Campos says revisions are likely to include more specific identification of recreational areas where trapping would be prohibited. He wants to consult with state game and fish regulators.

US Bishops Join Mexico Colleagues, Denounce 'Santa Muerte' – Associated Press

Bishops in the United States are denouncing La Santa Muerte — the skeleton folk saint in Mexico linked to the illicit drug trade.

Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, and San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis in Texas joined their counterparts in Mexico last week in urging Catholics to avoid honoring the folk saint. Wester called her "antithetical" to the teachings of Jesus.

The denouncement comes after Ciudad Juarez Bishop Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos attacked La Santa Muerte, which means Holy Death, in a recent newspaper interview.

Popular in Mexico, Santa Muerte is folk saint also worshipped by some immigrant small business owners, gay activists and the poor.

Clovis High School Gets New Football Coach After 39 Years- Eastern NM News, Associated Press

An eastern New Mexico high school is getting a new football coach for the first time in a generation.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports Clovis High School recently named Cal Fullerton as its new football coach. He replaces Eric Roanhaus who stepped down in December after 39 seasons.

Roanhaus won more games than any other high school coach in New Mexico history and led his teams to 10 state championships.

The 38-year-old Fullerton spent the last two seasons as co-offensive coordinator with Roanhaus.

Officials say Fullerton's father, Clovis Municipal Schools Athletic Director Dale Fullerton, will step down when his contract expires on June 30.

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