Tuesday News Roundup: New Mexico Land Office Earns $72M In January
NM Land Office earns $72M in January -The Associated Press
The New Mexico Land Office says it brought in $72 million in January for state trust land beneficiaries.
Officials say this marks the third highest month for earnings in the history of the Land Office.
Commissioner Pay Powell calls the money critically important for New Mexico's public schools, universities and hospitals. More than $64 million was distributed to public schools alone.
Revenues from nonrenewable uses of trust lands, such as royalties from oil and natural gas extraction, are deposited into the Land Grant Permanent Fund. They are invested and a percentage is paid to beneficiaries.
Revenues from uses such as grazing and rights of way are distributed directly to beneficiaries. Some of those revenues also go to the Land Office for its operating budget and other administrative expenses.
NM far below national average in AP test results - The Associated Press
New Mexico high school students ranked below the national average on Advanced Placement tests last year.
But the scores have improved over the past decade, and New Mexico had the highest percentage of Hispanic and low income students who passed the tests.
The 10th annual report from the College Board shows 43 percent of Hispanic students in New Mexico who took an AP test scored three points or more — the highest percent nationally. At 53 percent, New Mexico also has the highest number of Hispanic high school students, and 46 percent of them took an AP test.
Nearly 40 percent of low income students in New Mexico who took an AP test passed.
Overall, 12 percent of New Mexico students passed, compared to a national average of 20 percent.
NM Corrections launches new recycling program - The Associated Press
The New Mexico Department of Corrections has launched a new recycling program aimed at using old food for worm farms and making biodiesel.
Corrections officials recently announced that a new sustainability program for inmates seeks to transform leftover food into fertilizer. The program also trains inmates to turn old wood pallets into toys and encourages female inmates to change donated towel into stuffed animals.
The program is part of many new inmate training efforts introduced to give inmates new job education options.
Officials say inmates also make biodiesel that is sold to other state agencies.
House panel OKs expanded legislative webcasts - The Associated Press
A House committee has approved two proposals to expand webcasting of legislative proceedings.
One proposal by Democratic Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would require webcasting of interim committee meetings that meet when the Legislature isn't in session.
Another proposal by Steinborn would require the archiving of webcasts of House committees and floor sessions. Currently, the public must watch the Legislature's webcasts live.
The Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the measures on Monday and sent them to another panel for consideration. The measures would change legislative rules.
Supporters said archiving webcasts would make it more convenient for the public who can't watch live streaming of legislative proceedings.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's office webcasts some legislative proceedings and archives the video on the governor's web site.
Lawsuit alleges NM child welfare agency violated family's civil rights - The Associated Press
New Mexico's embattled child welfare agency is the target of a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.
The complaint spells out the details of a custody battle that attorney Colin Hunter says resulted in a young girl being emotionally and physically abused at the hands of strangers.
The suit says an investigator with the Children, Youth and Families Department removed the child from her father's custody with help from Belen police officers and placed her with her mother despite a court order.
According to the suit, the girl's mother was unable to provide proper care and the child was left alone with strangers.
Hunter says this is the latest example of incompetency within the agency.
CYFD spokesman Henry Varela says the lawsuit is frivolous and the child had never been in the agency's legal custody.
Belen Police Chief Dan Robb said he was unaware of the case.
Democrat defends vote against state budget - The Associated Press
Democratic Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint says she's been unfairly criticized for her vote against a $6 billion budget bill, which stalled last week on a tie vote in the House.
Jeff said in a House floor speech yesterday that there have been automated phone calls in her district suggesting that she doesn't support public education. She said she expected opposition in her re-election bid this year.
Jeff also expressed concern that some lawmakers might try to retaliate by opposing a new gambling compact with the Navajo Nation, of which Jeff is an enrolled member.
"I will not change my vote," Jeff said.
She also declared, "I will always be a Democrat."
Jeff was the only Democrat who voted against the budget, joining House Republicans who were in opposition.