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Morning Word: It's Groundhog Day!

February 2, 2017, 7:30 am

Drowning in Data
The day before the legislative session began, an educational consultant sat in front of a powerful group of lawmakers and told them New Mexico is requiring far too much data from its schools. The average district spends $357,000 in salary costs every year to file reports with the state. Many of the reports are redundant or just plain cumbersome to file and all the data dumping is taking money from kids. It's this week's SFR cover story.

Spend Less, Teach Less
Lawmakers are considering a proposal that looks education budget cuts square in the eye ... and backs down. The Senate bill would allow schools to shorten their school day or even the school year to help make up for the budget hit they're taking in this session.

Enduring Addiction
Public radio station KUNM, 89.9 FM, is in the midst of a fantastic series on opioid addition in Northern New Mexico. Reporter Ed Williams has examined what is often a generational drug problem. The station hosts an hour-long show on the issue at 8 am today.

Sugar Rush
Santa Fe is picking a fight with some of the biggest names in your fridge. Mayor Javier Gonzales wants to levy a tax of 2 cents per fluid ounce on sugary drinks sold within the city limits. The money raised, which he hopes will be millions, would pay for early childhood education initiatives. But as SFR found, there's a ton of cash just waiting to be spent in what is sure to be a pitched battle.

Gov Urges Congress to Repeal Methane Leak Fix
When the Bureau of Land Management ordered oil and gas companies to start capturing more fugitive natural gas, environmentalists praised the move, saying the up-front costs of new equipment would soon be paid off by sales of gas that used to escape. Gov. Susana Martinez disagrees, and sent a letter to noted weightlifting enthusiast and US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan this week supporting a proposed repeal. There aren't enough pipelines or processing facilities for the rule to make sense, she says.

Public Lands Rally
It's not often you see bowhunters standing next to environmentalists standing next to Native Americans in dance regalia, but it happened yesterday as hundreds gathered at the Roundhouse to oppose federal land transfers to states and support recreational opportunities on public land. They say land swaps inevitably lead to degradation and the loss of pristine land. Supporters say the land can often be used for leases that earn states much-needed money.

Saying Thanks
Lobbyists at the Capitol are required to report what they spend during the legislative session. They toss all sorts of goodies at lawmakers. Steve Terrell examines what effect the free stuff has on the work that gets done at the Roundhouse ... and whether any of the swag ever gets used.

When Chekhov Saw the Long Winter...
Lastly, as you may have noticed, it's Groundhog Day. Here in the arid high desert, we can pretty much always use more winter. As a scientist with a healthy perspective writes, things are changing even for the marmot genus (of which the groundhog is a species) and it's a great day to remember the value of science while laughing along with superstition.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks you owe it to yourself to watch the movie Groundhog Day.

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