Wednesday Morning Roundup

Jul 3, 2013

Martinez Urges July 4th Fireworks Ban Amid Drought - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has announced that all fireworks and campfires will be banned on state lands as July 4th approaches and crews continue to battle wildfires across New Mexico.

Martinez urged residents not to use any fireworks and instead to attend any number of professional fireworks shows around the state.

She says much of New Mexico remains under an extreme drought and the use of fireworks could cause more danger.

Under state law, local governments must approve drought-based fireworks restrictions at least 20 days before the July 4th holiday that allows the sale of fireworks.

Cities and counties can ban the sale and use of certain fireworks — firecrackers and aerial fireworks, such as roman candles and bottle rockets.

NM Court Asks For Response To Gay Marriage Lawsuit - The Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court has asked the attorney general and the Santa Fe County clerk to respond to a lawsuit seeking to legalize same-sex marriage.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday said their legal arguments in the case should be submitted by July 22nd. No hearing has been scheduled.

Two Santa Fe men filed a lawsuit last week asking the court to order Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to issue them a marriage license.

The lawsuit contends that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the New Mexico Constitution, including its Equal Rights Amendment prohibiting gender-based discrimination.

Attorney General Gary King's office said in a non-binding legal analysis last month that gay marriage is not allowed in New Mexico but that the statutory prohibition may violate the constitution's equal protection clause.

Search Resumes In Wyoming For Colorado Sen. Udall's Brother - The Associated Press

Dozens of searchers on the ground and two helicopters have so far found no sign of a missing hiker from a well-known Western political family.

Sixty-one-year-old James "Randy" Udall was due to return last Wednesday from a solo hike in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

Udall is a brother of Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, cousin of New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, and son of the late Arizona Rep. Morris "Mo" Udall.

Udall left June 20 from a trailhead 10 miles northwest of Pinedale in western Wyoming. He was due back last Wednesday. The search for him began Friday, the day he was reported missing.

Searchers say the weather is in Udall's favor. It's been warm, with nighttime temperatures dipping to freezing only at the very highest elevations.

Feds Revamp Critical Habitat Proposal For Jaguar - The Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials are proposing to designate more critical habitat in the American Southwest for the jaguar.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week released a revamped proposal for setting aside 1,340 square miles of habitat in Arizona and New Mexico for the rare cat. That's 31 square miles more than the previous proposal.

The agency says the revision reflects the cats' use of a wider range of vegetated areas and eliminates high elevations not frequented by jaguars.

With the change, the agency has reopened the public comment period for the revised rule along with the draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment.

The comment period ends in early August. The Fish and Wildlife Service is also planning a public meeting July 30 in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

NM Receiving $1M Grant For Children's Health Care - The Associated Press

New Mexico will receive a $1 million grant from the federal government to help provide medical care to uninsured children.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced the grant Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The money is to help the state enroll more children who are eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Medicaid provides health care for a fourth of the state's population.

About 9 percent of children in New Mexico lacked health insurance in 2011, according to a report released last week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that concluded the state was the worst in the nation when it comes to child well-being. About 7 percent of children nationally were uninsured.