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Morning Word: Lawmakers Urged to Act Quickly to Fix State Budget

December 14, 2016, 7:30 am
Lawmakers Urged to Act Quickly 
The chairman of the state’s Legislative Finance Committee has a dire budget warning. The veteran Democrat lawmaker tells Dan Boyd “that a failure to act quickly in the coming 60-day legislative session to address persistent budget woes could lead to the cancellation of public school days and unpaid furloughs for teachers.”

Cronyism in MedPot Program Revealed

Two health department employees, including the agency’s public records custodian who deemed medical cannabis grower applications "confidential" last year, were secret investors in a Santa Fe nonprofit group hoping to cash in on the emerging market.

Exit Deal Reached

University of New Mexico President Bob Frank has reached a deal with the school’s regents and will leave his post by the end of the year.
The Board agreed to provide Frank with a paid professional development leave of absence per his original contract. The paid leave of absence would end with the expiration of his contract on May 31, 2017. Frank would then begin his new faculty appointment as the director of the Center for Innovation in Health and Education on June 1, at a reduced annual salary of $190,000.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Chaouki Abdallah will serve as acting president during a national search for Frank’s replacement.  

Lujan Grisham Will Run for Governor
US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is the first Democrat to throw her hat into the 2018 gubernatorial primary campaign, which could field a lot of candidates, including New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales and magazine publisher Alan Webber. SFR reports that on the Republican side, US Rep. Steve Pearce, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry are rumored candidates.

Balderas Seeks Tougher Penalties for Street Racers

Speaking of the attorney general, Balderas wants state lawmakers to toughen up penalties for those convicted in deadly reckless driving cases after considering the tragic death of “Carmen Esmeralda Rivera, a 10-year-old girl who was killed last month when a man suspected of street racing slammed into her family's SUV on Interstate 25.”

Report: Luján Targeted by Russian Hackers posted a New York Times story that reveals “US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, was among those targeted by Russian hackers aiming to influence the November election.”

Senators: Perry "Utterly" Unqualified to Lead DOE
US Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, won’t be supporting Donald Trump’s pick to lead the US Department of Energy. Both men say former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is unqualified for the post.

Child Protection Programs Outcomes Questioned

SFR’s Steven Hsieh has an in-depth look at New Mexico’s high-profile child abuse problems. Government programs aimed at protecting them don’t seem to be getting any better outcomes.

Holm Scheduled to Fight in February

UFC fighter Holly Holm will return to the octagon on February 11, 2017. KRQE reports she’ll face “Germaine De Randamie in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title fight. Holm, the former UFC Bantamweight Champion, will try to make history as she attempts to become the first winner in two different weight classes in the women’s division.”


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