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Morning Word: Gov's Veto Forces Financial Face-Off With Courts

February 3, 2017, 7:30 am

Gov Funds Session, Axes Court Cash
Gov. Susana Martinez finally signed the "feed bill," which provides money to pay for the 60-day session of the Legislature. The payroll timing is so tight that staff at the Roundhouse will reportedly get handwritten paychecks today. Martinez once again vetoed $800,000 for the court system. The Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court said the court system is so overburdened that it likely won't be able to fund jury trials come March. That right is guaranteed in Article II, Section 12 of the New Mexico Constitution. 

'Cronyism is Not a Problem, Really'
So spoke former UNM attorney Nick Estes in support of Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup. The measure would have kept secret the names and job applications of everyone looking for a taxpayer-funded job in New Mexico, except for the people selected as finalists. The bill died in committee after a unanimous vote.

But Just in Case, How About an Ethics Commission?
Once again, lawmakers are debating the need for and scope of a proposed ethics commission. Such a panel has been a tough sell at the Legislature, which prefers to police itself behind mostly closed doors. A recent poll showed overwhelming support—nine in 10 voters—for ethics reform in New Mexico.

SF Police Investigate SFHS Basketball Players
Santa Fe police have confirmed they are looking into an alleged case of felony voyeurism involving basketball players from Santa Fe High School and a 14-year-old girl who apparently told school officials that a cell phone may have been used to broadcast her having sex. Two prominent players have been suspended for the rest of the season. One of the boys is the son of a Santa Fe police sergeant.

Judge Halts Some Denials of Wage Theft Claims
A state District Court judge has blocked the Department of Workforce Solutions from enforcing its self-imposed rule prohibiting wage theft claims over $10,000 and those based on something that happened more than a year ago. Last month, a group of low-wage earners sued the state over claims they said weren't being addressed by DWS, the state agency responsible for investigating.

Española Voter Fraud Case in Court
A state District Court judge is hearing a voter fraud case from Española's 2016 municipal election. The Rio Grande Sun reports that three absentee ballots are at the center of the dispute. A two-vote margin decided a city council race there.

Silver City DA Escapes DWI, But Not Repair Bill for State Cars
Sixth Judicial District Attorney Francesca Estevez' June encounter with state and local police showed her acting strangely and doing what looked an awful lot like practicing for a roadside sobriety test. Despite cell phone video of Estevez' car weaving in and out of her lane on a rural highway, she was never charged—a move the state police chief called a missed opportunity. Now, repair bills show more than $3,000 in body damage to two other state-owned vehicles that were under Estevez' care.

Please Don't Be Like Last February
Remember? Snowy January and then a warm, dry and windy February and March? Well, this seems awfully familiar. It should be nice weather this weekend, though.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks it's OK for you to grab a donut today.

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