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Morning Word: Let's Make That a Half Day of Action

March 16, 2017, 7:30 am

A (Half) Day of Action
Santa Fe Schools are letting out early today to give students, teachers and parents a chance to share their view on education funding with lawmakers. The district says the current budget could mean 60-120 jobs or 15-30 days would have to be cut. The Word happened to be in class when the announcement was made that Santa Fe Public Schools would recess this afternoon for what the district terms a "Day of Action" at the Roundhouse; the emotion among students was, as you might imagine, palpable. 

Thank You, Ma'am, May We Have Another
Since a Republican-led veto override in the Senate earlier this week, Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed eight bills without explanation. Providing a veto message is considered useful to lawmakers to gauge how much opposition a governor has and where they might make changes to make the bill palatable. Most of the bills passed both houses of the Legislature with huge majorities, if not unanimously.

Show Your Work
Meanwhile, the Senate passed a bill that would require the governor to disclose details of her contingency fund to auditors each year. The $80,000 fund is supposed to be used for expenses related to being governor, but state law shields it from audits. The bill moves to the House.

Senate Defeats Right-to-Die Bill
It's a felony in New Mexico for doctors to end the life of patients who appear terminally ill. A House bill would have changed that and protected doctors who assist patients with the choice to die. But a two-vote margin in the Senate decided the bill's fate. Local Catholic archbishops and the governor opposed the measure.

Wrestling with the Tax Code
It's a tall order in the last three days of the legislative session, but Rep. Jason Harper's massive rewrite of the New Mexico tax code is still alive in the Senate. Lawmakers are grappling with the benefits of broadening the gross receipts tax structure, but also the toll it could take on nonprofit groups.

House Passes 'Conversion Therapy' Ban
The measure would ban the use of controversial "conversion therapy" that aims to change someone's gender identity or sexual orientation. The Senate bill still needs to go back to the upper chamber for a look at changes made in the House.

Early Childhood Education Amendment Fails in Committee
A Senate panel put a halt to a plan to take more money from New Mexico's multi-billion dollar Land Grant Permanent Fund and earmark it primarily for early childhood education programs like home visits for new parents. The debate has long centered on whether funding the programs by taking more money out of the permanent fund shortchanges future generations of schoolkids who count on the funding—more than $600 million this year.

March Madness
The annual NCAA men's basketball tournament starts today and features the New Mexico State Aggies as the state's only team in the 64-school field. Both Gov. Martinez and Attorney General Hector Balderas picked the Aggies to beat Baylor (10:40 am Friday on TruTV) and SMU on their way to a defeat at the hands of Duke in the Sweet 16. Martinez picked Arizona to win, Balderas picked UCLA and former Lobo coach Steve Alford.

Thanks for reading! The Word reminds you that if you call in sick today, everyone will assume you're watching basketball.

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