--2 Morning Word: Revamp to criminal code coming?
       
Oct. 24, 2014

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Morning Word: Revamp to criminal code coming?

Reports coming on behavioral health audits and more NM news...

October 25, 2013, 8:00 am
By Matthew Reichbach
  • Legislators are looking at rewritings the state's criminal code, a huge task. KRQE spoke to first-term state Senator Lisa Torraco about the effort.
    Over the years, legislators have tinkered with some laws to reflect current values, but Torraco said there is a lot of updating that still needs to happen.

    "We don't even properly address Internet crimes, so there's this whole new world of crimes that New Mexico is not even properly addressing," she said.
  • Attorney General Gary King is working on a report on the mental health providers that had their funding suspended. King told the Legislative Finance Committee about the reports that are in the works.
    King told the Legislative Finance Committee that he hoped to issue reports before the end of this year on some of the 14 nonprofit organizations that in late June were suspended from receiving Medicaid reimbursement for mental health and substance abuse services. He cautioned lawmakers that it could take longer, however.

    The Human Services Department referred allegations of fraud, mismanagement and overbilling to King's office for investigation. Details of the allegations have not been publicly released.
  • State Auditor Hector Balderas is also preparing a report.
    Balderas told reporters after the hearing that in addition to his annual financial audit of the department, he’s also performing a “risk review” of the $3 million, 350-page audit of the behavioral health providers, performed by Public Consultant Group, a Boston firm hired by the Human Services Department.

    That audit — which estimated some $36 million in overpayments to the providers — does not specify which allegations of possible fraud apply to which providers, Balderas said. “We are still in the process of gathering specific facts about how Human Services verified credible allegations of fraud.”
  • Sen. Tom Udall wants the penalty for not purchasing health care pushed back in light of the recent troubles with purchasing health care through the federal exchange.
  • KUNM has the audio of the KUNM Call-In Show with Martin Heinrich.
  • Steve Terrell was complimentary to the state Supreme Court for allowing webcasting of the historic same-sex marriage oral arguments earlier this week.
    I have to applaud the high court for their unprecedented step of allowing TV and radio stations to stream yesterday's proceedings. The Supreme Court hearing room itself is surprisingly tiny, with only 40 seats or so for spectators -- and a big chunk of those seats yesterday were taken up by plaintiffs and county clerks, who were part of the case.
  • The next big issue for Congress appears to be immigration reform. Republicans seem to support a piecemeal approach while Democrats want a more comprehensive approach.
  • The State Auditor warned a Bernalillo County official about restricting Auditor personnel access to county employees.
    She said the State Auditor’s Office and a private firm, Moss Adams LLP, are jointly conducting an audit of Bernalillo County, focusing on the fiscal year that ended June 30. Such audits are routine.

    The letter notifies Bernal that auditors won’t always tell his office ahead of time what they want and that they might ask Bernal’s staff questions during their visits.
  • The State Attorney General held a safe schools summit on Thursday.
  • Bret Knapp of Los Alamos National Labs is taking over as director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
    According to the LLNL release, Knapp is a recognized expert in national security with 26 years of work experience at LLNL in programmatic roles of increasing responsibility before he joined the senior management team at LANL in 2006. "He is an energetic and passionate leader with 33 years of combined experience between the two labs," Pattiz said.
  • A couple of mayoral candidates in Santa Fe say they have reached the threshold for public financing. Candidates need to collect 600 $5 donations to qualify for the financing.
    The $3,000 showing of financial support through small individual contributions allows the candidate to qualify for $60,000 in municipal money to spend on campaign costs while forgoing donations from other private sources. The deadline to qualify is Nov. 18.
  • Albuquerque slipped to a third-tier market "when it comes to the willingness of large national lenders to make loans for large commercial real estate projects," Albuquerque Business First reported. Albuquerque Business First cited Pete Gineris, senior vice president at CBRE.
  • Frontera Norte Sur looks at the Albuquerque Police Oversight Task Force as it wraps up its look at police accountability.
    Andrew Lipman, POTF chair, told FNS that his group should have recommendations for possible changes to the official police oversight commission ready for city councilors to consider by the end of December. “We need to keep on moving,” Lipman said.

    The task force Lipman chairs grew out of public concerns arising from 28 officer-involved shootings -- 17 of them fatal -- between 2010 and 2012, as well as criticisms that the existing Police Oversight Commission (POC) wasn’t doing its job to hold officers accountable.
  • Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed the energy policy and two other pieces of legislation into law on Thursday.
    Those three pieces are the Navajo Nation Energy Policy of 2013, $4.1 million for the purchase of Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal and amendments requested by NTEC and BHP Billiton that Council passed Wednesday night to change the plan of operation of the new energy company to help it acquire Navajo Mine.
  • The Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative is facing over $200 million in lawsuits following the Las Conchas Fire.
    Former general manager Wayne Sowell said claims against the Co-op in district court, related to the state’s largest wildfire at the time, stand at $203 million. The Co-op has $21 million of insurance coverage, he said.

    "If the plaintiffs are successful, the Co-op will have to file Chapter 11 (bankruptcy)," Sowell said.
  • KOB obtained an accident report from a fatal car crash involving several teens from Tierra Blanca Ranch.
  • Sometimes you just REALLY don't like your job. Ron Ortega was one of those people.
    A San Miguel County Commissioner angrily walked off the job at New Mexico Highlands University, but not before crumbling up his suspension letter and tossing it, along with his keys, in the face of his supervisor.

    A university police report filed in the case also states that Ron Ortega threatened the supervisor, Kent Reid, who at the time was the interim director of the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute at Highlands.
  • The New Mexico Finance Authority narrowed its search for a new CEO to two finalists.
  • Santa Fe City Attorney Geno Zamora resigned to take a job with Santa Fe Public Schools.
  • Rep. Steve Pearce returned his pay that he received during the government shutdown.
  • Sandia National Labs won five regional awards for commercializing technology. Getting technology that could help local businesses is a key part of the City of Albuquerque's plan to increase the benefits of having Sandia National Labs in the city.
  • The Oktoberfest celebration in Alamogordo didn't go well. At least when it came to following state liquor laws.
    City attorney Stephen Thies, in a letter to City Manager Jim Stahle, identified several possible violations to "administrative rules, including liquor being served after 2 a.m. and as late as 4:30 a.m., violations of a private party rule and sales to intoxicated persons.
  • Lincoln County Commissioners are wary of proposed changes to stream classifications by the EPA.
    "Per EPA, this joint rule will provide greater consistency, certainty and predictability nationwide by providing clarity for determining where the Clean Water Act applies and where it does not," Taylor said. "Per The American Land Rights Association, the EPA and the Army Corps are attempting to neutralize the requirement that the two agencies have jurisdiction over 'navigable waters' only; to gain jurisdiction over all water in the United States, and all activities affecting all water; and to regulate water now considered entirely under state jurisdiction."
    One possible reason this came to light? Fox News brought it up, per the liberal Media Matters.
  • The cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department says the controversy over the Washington Redskins name isn't a big issue in New Mexico.
    "It isn't a burning issue with us," said Arthur Allison, cabinet secretary of the department.

    Allison, right, said tribal nations remain attuned to sports nicknames that are derogatory or offensive.
    Redskins owner Dan Snyder has stood strong against changing the name of the team.
  • Beekeeping is legal in Alamogordo! With some restrictions.
    According to the ordinance, residents with lots a quarter of an acre in size or smaller may keep two colonies. Bees are not allowed on lots smaller than 2,400 square feet.

    As lot sizes increase, so does the number of hives a person may keep. For example, a person with a one-acre lot my keep eight hives, whereas someone with a tract of land where hives can be kept at least 200 feet from the nearest property line can have an unlimited number of hives.
    And so ends the Morning Word coverage of this important topic.
  • Community members in Portales are taking up a collection for those laid off from Sunland Inc. after the peanut processing plant shut down and declared bankruptcy.
  • The father of a student who might not get to walk at graduation because she is Seventh-day Adventist and the graduation is set for Saturday filed a report with the Department of Justice, alleging religious discrimination.
    “When graduation was on Friday morning, the district was in full compliance with their non-discrimination policy,” said Dwight Thompson in his email to the DOJ, “but when they moved it to Saturday, knowing it (would) cause conflict among their student population, that is when it discriminated against student participation.”
  • Cloudcroft High School canceled the final two games of its football season because of "injuries and other team-related issues."
  • I didn't like the name of the El Paso Chihuahuas, but some people are taking it too far.
    Santa Teresa High School football coach Shae Vierra has received hundreds of hateful messages after it was announced he suggested the nickname Chihuahuas for the El Paso Triple A baseball team.
    It is a bad name, but is it any worse than the New Orleans Pelicans? Or the Utah Jazz?
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