I hope that everyone had a great Christmas. Or if you don't celebrate Christmas, that you had a great Wednesday.
We're back in action here at the Morning Word, even if many of you are on vacation. Still, a lot of things have happened over the holidays and I've been kind of keeping track of them -- so let's get a mega-sized version of the Morning Word going for the last Friday in 2013.
- New Mexico's same-sex marriage decision was still big, so let's run that down really quickly.
The Albuquerque Journal looked at how the New Mexico Supreme Court cited religious freedoms in its ruling.
SCOTUSblog and Slate looked at what was in the ruling and what it means.
The Associated Press reports on areas hoping to capitalize on tourism from same-sex couples who wish to get married.
But Malone said he believed New Mexico could sell itself as an inexpensive alternative to places like Hawaii or Massachusetts. He said six couples already have booked rooms at his hotel for planned weddings in 2014. "And those are the ones who like to plan way ahead," he said.
- Next year's Secretary of State race is already kicking into gear. And the first shots are at... former state Senator Rod Adair. Adair is currently an employee of Secretary of State Dianna Duran.
- The AP runs down the top stories of the year.
- The Santa Fe Reporter looks at the biggest stories of 2013. No surprise, same-sex marriage topped the list.
- New Mexico Watchdog has its top-ten stories of the year.
- A big issue in this year's legislative session? A gambling compact between the state and the Navajo Nation. As if the 30-day session wouldn't be busy enough as it is.
- And a legislator wants Gov. Susana Martinez to put a gun control bill on the call. This would require background checks for gun sales at gun shows.
- The former state Homeland Security head is suing the state over workplace issues.
Richard A. Clark said his bosses retaliated against him for defending another state employee. A retired New Mexico National Guardsman, Clark is suing under laws protecting whistleblowers and members of the armed services.
- Fracking is helping drive gas prices in New Mexico down. It has to do with where oil and gas is coming from.
Brewer, who owns 37 retail gas outlets in New Mexico, said prices used to be based on what it cost to move gasoline from the coastal areas where tanker ships docked. Now, with new fracking technologies that have created more production in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, the paradigm has shifted. Even as the debate about the environmental consequences of fracking continues, the economic benefits are already flowing to gasoline consumers and drivers.
“Everything used to be based on the coast — that’s where the product came in from. Now the product is coming out of the mid-continent, and that’s changed the dynamics,” Brewer said. “It’s caught a lot of people by surprise. A lot of the inland refineries were struggling a few years ago, and that’s really turned around.”
- More than 5,000 New Mexicans will lose unemployment benefits since Congress decided against extending an emergency program.
- The manufacturing sector in New Mexico has shown steady declines.
- University leaders support a plan by Gov. Susana Martinez to recruit more college professors and researchers to New Mexico campuses.
- Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly wasn't available for a year-end interview with the Navajo Times. So Deswood Tome, a special adviser to Shelly, sat in for him.
- New Mexico has a shortage of police officers around the state.
- Attorney General Gary King announced this week that the state received $19 million in a settlement with the maker of a diabetes drug.
The lawsuit, filed in state District Court in Santa Fe in May 2012, alleged that GlaxoSmithKline downplayed or misrepresented the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with the drug.
The company has defended the drug’s reputation and criticized a 2007 study that found greatly increased risk of heart attack. The company’s patent on it expired in 2011, according to a New York Times report, and it has paid $3 billion in fines related to a variety of practices, including Avandia.
- David Dwoney is the interim chief of the Albuquerque Fire Department.
- A conservative organization praised corporate tax cuts that passed during the 2013 legislative session.
- The time for paperwork to be processed at the Corporations Bureau has fallen drastically since being moved to the Secretary of State's office from the PRC. This was part of a push by Think New Mexico to streamline parts of government and make the PRC, a perennially troubled agency, work better.
- The Navajo Nation approved a demonstration uranium recovery project. The Navajo Nation currently has a ban on uranium mining activities.
- The chief justice on the Navajo Supreme Court wants the tribal government to build a judicial complex. He also wants a third justice to be added.
"It's awfully hard to get that respect," he said. "How can you get people to respect the law and observe it if they see the law being practiced in trailers?"
He said the design has been done and the land has been selected -- all it needs now is the funding, about $19 million -- and he pledged to keep on trying in 2014 to get financial support for the project.
- The Ruidoso News has the latest on water rights battles in Ruidoso. At issue is if securing water for new year-round residents would take water from senior water rights owners.
- The Albuquerque Journal on life in Columbus, New Mexico after the scandal that saw the former mayor, police chief and a village trustee involved in gun smuggling.
- Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced legislation to preserve Native American seeds.
The Native American Seeds Protection Act of 2013 would allow tribes to obtain grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct research, education and training programs aimed at protecting the purity of Native American seeds.
The legislation would also allow the construction of seed storage facilities.
- The state had to take over the checkbook of a charter school.
“We received a call from our auditors, Moss Adams LLP, telling us that the financial statements at McCurdy were in a condition that made them unauditable,” said Paul Aguilar, the Public Education Department’s deputy secretary of finance and operations. “The auditors could not express a condition of the finances, whether they were in a good or bad state.”
- The Health and Human Services Director in Doña Ana County announced she is resigning effective the end of the month. From the Las Cruces Sun-News:
Separate from that, a federal agency has concluded it wasn't able to determine that Sierra had experienced discrimination or retaliation by two county commissioners -- Wayne Hancock and Leticia Duarte-Benavidez -- and County Undersheriff Eddie Lerma, as she alleged in a complaint lodged this summer. Hancock and Duarte-Benavidez said they were pleased to hear about the finding.
- The USDA's Farm Service Agency wants eligible farmers and ranchers to vote in the FSA County Committee Election -- and to use corrected ballots.
- Rain and snow are making it hard to harvest pecans in southern New Mexico.
- A retired New Mexico Highlands University professor and union organizer passed away from cancer.
- A charter school in Shiprock will be the first one in the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation. The state Public Education Commission originally denied an application but approved it after an appeal.
- Trap, neuter, release is headed to Doña Ana County.