NM Senate Democrats Say Their Bills Will Create 73,000 Jobs - The Associated Press

Senate Democrats have pitched a lofty jobs bills package that promises 73,000 new positions in New Mexico in the next four to five years.

They say the more than 40 bills they have introduced this session address the need for increased employment and economic activity in the state.

Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla says Democratic leadership is also united in stopping right-to-work legislation supported by the Republican-controlled House.

gvgoebel via Flickr

Bill Would Reward School, Local Government WhistleblowersThe Associated Press

Whistleblowers who report public school and local government fraud would be rewarded under a measure approved by a New Mexico Senate committee.

The bill calls for expanding the Fraud Against Taxpayer Act to include schools and local governments. State agencies, departments, boards and commissions are already covered.

Albuquerque Police Sued Over Encrypted CDs In ShootingThe Associated Press

An Albuquerque law firm is suing the Albuquerque Police Department over what it say is encrypted records from a police shooting probe.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Kennedy Kennedy & Ives Law Practice recently filed the lawsuit in connection with records related to the shooting death of Armand Martin. Authorities say the 50-year-old Air Force veteran was shot by police during a standoff in May.

New Mexico PBS

UPDATE 6p - New Mexico Senate Approves Skandera As Education Secretary - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has voted to confirm Hanna Skandera as education secretary four years after she took the job.

The Senate approved her nomination 22-19 Monday.

Gov. Susana Martinez's nomination of Skandera in 2011 drew criticism because of her having never been a teacher or administrator.

wplynn via flickr.com

New Mexico Senate OKs Bill To Ban Coyote-Killing Contests – The Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has approved a measure that would ban coyote-killing contests.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque and Democrat Rep. Jeff Steinborn was approved on a 27-13 vote Friday. It now heads to the House for consideration.

Moores says the bill would end coyote-killing contests without restricting the ability of farmers and ranchers to protect their livestock.

New Mexico Dept of Taxation and Revenue

New Mexico House Votes To Repeal Immigrant Driver's LicensesThe Associated Press

The New Mexico House of Representatives has passed a bill that ends the state's practice of issuing driver's licenses to people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The bill passed after three hours of debate by a vote of 39-29, with two Democrats siding with the Republicans in the majority.

The bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled Senate for a vote.  Democrats have vowed to fight the legislation.

Asaavedra32 / Wikimedia Commons

Homeless Allowed To Stay On Vacant Lot Near Former Tent SiteThe Associated Press

Homeless people evicted from an encampment on city-owned property in downtown Albuquerque are being allowed to move to a nearby vacant lot owned by a neighborhood association.

Police and city officials earlier this week issued eviction notices giving people staying in the so-called "Tent City" to leave by Thursday.

The Barelas Neighborhood Association has given the campers permission to stay on piece of property that the association owns a few blocks away.

National Park Service

Vandalism Found In Petroglyph National MonumentThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Graffiti and other vandalism have been found in a section of the Petroglyph National Monument in west Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that monument Superintendent Dennis Vásquez was exploring a section of the monument last week when he found debris, evidence of campfires, motorcycle tracks and graffiti.

pixnpics via Flickr

Bill Would Protect Pregnant Workers In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A New Mexico lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for working pregnant women.

Representative Terry McMillan of Las Cruces says the state can do a better job protecting pregnant women in the workplace. He says his bill would bring the state in line with federal standards.

Reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers would include more flexibility of schedules as well as shorter hours or leave time.

Tall Chris via Flickr

New Mexico Website Drops Easy Scanning Feature On LobbyistsThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico's online system for tracking lobbyists' spending on legislators is not as transparent as it used to be.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a recent change in the website operated by the Secretary of State's Office no longer makes it easy to scan reports in which lobbyists must report expenditures larger than $500 within 48 hours.

lu_lu via flickr

Santa Fe Schools To Enforce Vaccination Mandate For MeaslesThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe public school students without up-to-date measles vaccinations or valid waivers for medical or religious reasons won't be able to attend classes starting Feb. 17.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the district's stricter enforcement of state requirements for student vaccinations comes at a time when measles has been reported recently in other states.

The Norlo / Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico House Panel Eyes E-Cigarette Sales Ban To MinorsThe Associated Press

A New Mexico House panel is set to debate a bill that would outlaw e-cigarette sales to minors.

The House Health Committee is scheduled Thursday to take up a proposal that would add electronic cigarettes to the state's Tobacco Products Act.

Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, is sponsoring the bill.

Battery-powered e-cigarettes heat a liquid solution, usually containing nicotine, to create vapor that users inhale.

City of Santa Fe

Santa Fe Mayor Wants Gender-Neutral Bathrooms, Film PushThe Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales wants his city to have gender-neutral bathrooms and to launch a new push to attract film productions.

Gonzales made the proposals in his first State of the City address yesterday. The address was titled "One Santa Fe, One City, One Family."


New Mexico Lawmakers Vote To Table Minimum Wage Increase - The Associated Press

A New Mexico panel of lawmakers voted along party lines to table two bills that called for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.50.

One of the bills spread the increase over three years and provided for an annual cost-of-living increase.

The vote on both bills was 4-3, with Republicans in the majority.

Courtesy Two Eagles crew

Pilots In Helium-Filled Balloon Land Safely In Mexico - Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Two pilots in a helium-filled balloon landed safely off the coast of Mexico on Saturday after a nearly 7,000-mile long trip across the Pacific Ocean.

The pilots landed off Baja California about 300 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, greeted by a team of balloon enthusiasts who assisted with the landing. The pilots came in low and dropped thick trailing ropes into the ocean to help slow the balloon before setting down in a controlled water landing.

Difficult Conditions Reported On Some New Mexico Highways – Associated Press

Forecasters predict heavy snow in the mountains and a mix of rain and snow in lower elevations as a winter storm moves across northern and central New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions Friday morning on some highways, including Interstate 25 between Rowe and Watrous. That stretch of I-25 is wet, snow-packed and icy in spots, and crews are out plowing, salting and cindering.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Puts The Brakes On SunZia – Associated Press

New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has put the brakes on a $2 billion transmission project that would carry electricity generated by renewable resources in New Mexico and Arizona to markets across the West.

Dunn announced late Wednesday that he was issuing a 60-day suspension after meeting with the developers. He says that will give his office time to review the project before any further development affects state trust lands.

Ajnagraphy via compfight

New Head Of New Mexico Child Welfare Agency Lists Priorities – Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers want the new head of the state's child welfare agency to ensure federal dollars for services are used by the state rather than be returned.

Members of a Senate panel challenged Monique Jacobson, the incoming secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department, during a meeting Tuesday.

bjmccray via Flickr

Lawmakers Concerned About New Mexico's Unbalanced Books – The Associated Press

New Mexico's top finance officials say the state's checkbook is out of balance to the tune of $100 million.

Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Monday. He says that amount is his agency's best guess at the discrepancy between the state's general cash ledger and what it actually has in the bank.

Biagio Mannaggio via Flickr

Brewery Brotherhood Emerging In Albuquerque Area – The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

Albuquerque breweries are brewing not only beer but budding friendships — with each other.

A majority of the owners of the city's breweries tell the Albuquerque Journal that the industry here is anything but cutthroat.

Christopher Goblet, executive director of the New Mexico Beer Guild, says the brewers are small business owners who want to see others succeed.

OiMax via Flickr.com

Federal Decision Expected On SunZia Transmission Line – The Associated Press

Federal officials are expected to make an announcement regarding a proposed $2 billion transmission line between Arizona and New Mexico that has become a priority for the Obama administration.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be joined Saturday by members of New Mexico's congressional delegation for a news conference in Albuquerque.

Elvert Barnes via Flickr.com

Bishops Want New Mexico To Restrict Late-term Abortions The Associated Press

Republicans' new control of the New Mexico House has the state's three Roman Catholic bishops urging lawmakers to enact a bill to restrict late-term abortions.

The GOP now has a majority in the House for the first time in decades, while Democrats remain in control of the Senate.

NMRoads.com / NM DOT

Difficult Conditions Reported On Some New Mexico HighwaysThe Associated Press

Snowplows have been working to clear northern New Mexico highways of snow and ice from a major winter storm.

Difficult driving conditions are reported in much of northeast New Mexico and along I-40 east to the Texas line. Severe driving conditions are reported in the southeast.  See NMRoads.com or call 5-1-1 for the latest information.

NMRoads.com / NM DOT

Difficult Conditions Reported On Some New Mexico HighwaysThe Associated Press

Difficult driving conditions are reported on some northern New Mexico highways as a major winter storm begins to drop heavy snow.

Affected highways include Interstate 25 between Glorieta and Watrous.

The National Weather Service says the most significant impacts are expected overnight.

According to the forecasters, areas along and east of the central mountain chain will be hardest hit by heavy snow today.

N salazar

New Mexico Legislature To Convene 60-Day SessionThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is expected to outline her priorities as lawmakers gather in Santa Fe for the opening day of the 60-day legislative session.

The Legislature will convene at noon today, and the governor will deliver her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate.

The governor's efforts could end up sailing through at least one chamber since she's starting her second term with the first Republican-controlled House in 60 years.


New Mexico Senate Leader Is Last Firewall For DemocratsThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Longtime New Mexico Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez is sure to face more pressure than ever when the legislative session begins tomorrow.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Sanchez is the last line of defense for Democrats with the Republican-dominated House likely to pass any bills favored by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

As majority leader, Sanchez is allowed to pick which bills get heard on the Senate floor.

Robert Smith via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Santa Fe's Minimum Wage To Increase In March The Associated Press

Santa Fe's minimum wage is set to go up by 18 cents an hour starting March 1.

The annual adjustment is based on the latest Consumer Price Index for the western region. It will raise the local wage floor to $10.84, which keeps it among the highest in the nation.

The federal mandatory minimum remains at $7.25. The state minimum wage is $7.50.

Central New Mexico Community College

College President Warns Budget Problems May Force Cuts The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The president of the community college serving the Albuquerque area says fiscal belt-tightening might have to include cuts of low-enrollment classes.

Central New Mexico Community College President Kathie Winograd told employees and staff that she believes proposed increases in state funding are optimistic and that higher education could actually face funding cuts.

Chris Blakeley via Flickr / Creative Commons license

Arizona Mental Health Provider To Withdraw From New MexicoThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

More change is coming to New Mexico's network of behavioral health providers.

New Mexico Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott confirms that an Arizona-based nonprofit will stop serving indigent patients in eastern New Mexico at the end of March.

MoDOT Photos via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Police: Another Albuquerque Officer Involved In Shooting - The Associated Press

Police say an Albuquerque officer has fatally shot a man who had just fired at officers.

Tuesday's shooting marks the department's third this year and comes a day after Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announced she was seeking murder charges against two officers for the March shooting of a homeless man.