Good news for people waiting for New Mexico’s monsoon season. The skies opened up, dumping rain across much of the state over the weekend and National Weather Service forecasters predict Northern New Mexico will continue to get drenched this week.
Rain or Shine, More Light Needed on Budget Talks
Open government advocates oppose Gov. Susana Martinez’ suggestion that lawmakers pre-negotiate state budget fixes before convening for a short session to vote on the deal. Lawyers at the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government say the legislators are required to discuss options during meetings open to public before taking a quick vote.
Oil Prices Expected to Stablize
It may be too late to help New Mexico 2017 budget, but the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas predicts oil markets will rebound early next year as prices increase and stabilize.
Renewable Energy Market Grows
New Mexico has the third highest concentration of people working in the solar industry and those workers earned an average of $37,000 per year. Even better news for renewable energy advocates: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Mexico recently ranked sixth in the nation for utility-scale electricity generation from solar energy.
White Endorses Johnson
Darren White, who resigned his post as secretary of the Department of Public Safety after then-Gov. Gary Johnson came out in support of marijuana legalization, is now endorsing Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee. White has come a long way since the early 90s. White, also a former Bernalillo County Sheriff, hosted the grand opening of his new medical marijuana dispensary, PürLife, on Saturday in Albuquerque. Johnson took to Twitter to thank White for his support.
Environment Secretary Resigns
Gov. Martinez has accepted the resignation of New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn. Deputy Cabinet Secretary Butch Tongate will serve as acting environment department secretary beginning Aug. 12. Flynn, whose term was controversial, was an attorney at Modrall Sperling before taking the post at NMED. He said he as two daughters under the age of 3 and wants to spend more time with them.
Teens struggling with addiction could have an even more difficult time facing life’s challenges when the Department of Health closes its adolescent treatment facility in Albuquerque. The department says it will focus on adult addicts instead of teens. Lawmakers are asking state administrators to delay the closure until they can discuss the matter the at a Legislative Health and Human Services Committee meeting Sept. 23. Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino says he’s not sure the agency should even be able shift the $2 million earmarked for the treatment program in 2013 to other services. “Instead of shutting it down, we should make it work,” says Ortiz y Pino.
Water Project Money Goes Unspent
“The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee says nearly 80 percent of the state’s budget for water projects from 2014 remains unspent, triggering another call for reform in handling capital construction initiatives,” reports Rebecca Moss at The New Mexican.
In a report released last week, the committee staff said this is the highest percentage of idle money of its kind in the nation. Meanwhile, the state needs more than $3 billion to finance drinking water improvements, sewage treatment and other projects statewide, the committee said.Pot Block
New Mexico’s medical cannabis industry may be the fastest growing sector in the state, with sales forecast to top $45 million this year, but forget about seeing any New Mexico True labels on the medication’s packaging. ABQ Free Press reports the state Tourism Department blocked Ultra Health’s application to be certified in the program even though the cannabis is all grown in the state.
At the same time gun law reforms are stalled in Congress, the number of shootings in Albuquerque continue to increase. There were, according to an Albuquerque Journal data project, 219 in shooting 2015 and 130 have already been recorded this year. Those numbers don’t even include self-inflicted wounds.
ABQ Rapid Transit Project Can Start
Federal District Judge Kenneth Gonzales, the former US Attorney for New Mexico, ruled Friday that the City of Albuquerque can begin construction on its controversial $119 million rapid transit system along Central Avenue, starting as early as Wednesday. “Completing the ART project on time will address existing safety concerns sooner and save the public money due to construction delays,” says Gonzales.