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Morning Word: April, Come She Will

April 3, 2017, 7:30 am

86 the Noodles
UNM men's basketball coach Craig Neal is out. New Mexico's highest-paid public employee will walk away with roughly $1 million just weeks after Athletic Director Paul Krebs promised Neal, whose nickname is Noodles, would be back to coach a fifth season. Four players announced they wanted to transfer in the interim.

Gov Changes Teacher Evals
In a Sunday news conference, Susana Martinez announced changes to New Mexico's system of evaluating teachers. The state will drop the weight of standardized student test scores from half a teacher's score to 35 percent. She'll also let teachers take six sick days before their score is docked instead of the three days they are allowed now. Teachers unions were less than thrilled, considering a bill to allow 10 sick days was vetoed by the governor—and that veto was overridden in the Senate. Perhaps to Santa Fe schools' delight, the news conference was on the weekend in a public charter school.

Does the Suit Fit?
The trial for the lawsuit SFR filed to force Gov. Martinez to follow public records law wrapped on Friday with testimony from Keith Gardner, the governor's chief of staff, and SFR co-owner Mark Zusman. The governor's staff continued to claim they followed their procedure, and the law, for responding to public records requests did not violate SFR's right to free expression by blacklisting the paper after critical coverage. 

The Sugar-Sweetened Drink Tax Debate You Crave
As far as the Word knows, there's no debate scheduled for voters to hear both sides of the sugary-drink tax debate at the same time. Public television stepped into the void and discussed the tax on New Mexico in Focus this week. The show also included a debate about the SFR lawsuit.

NMSU Considers Tuition Hike
Anticipating a meager budget next year, New Mexico State University regents will consider raising tuition by about $400 a year to pump cash into the school. The proposal represents a 6 percent hike over what students pay now.

Marijuana Legalization Effort Grows
Bills to legalize recreational marijuana use failed to pass either of the New Mexico Legislature's two chambers. There are no plans to halt the effort, though. Supporters say six in 10 voters favor legalizing pot and at least one likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate has signaled openness to the proposal.

Gov Signs Physical Restraint Limits Bill
The governor signed a bill over the weekend that lays out stricter rules for how and when schools can use physical restraint or seclusion to control students. Such techniques are more frequently used against students with autism spectrum disorder or other less-understood disabilities.

Martinez Vetoes Public Records Bill
The governor vetoed a bill to expand public records access in New Mexico. The legislation, which passed the House unanimously, would have eliminated the word "political" from exemptions allowed in state law. Supporters argued its definition was vague and let public agencies determine what was a record based not on what it contained, but, in the agency's view, how it would be used.

Thanks for reading! The Word knows you're one quarter of the way through this year and appreciates your efforts.

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