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More Than Meets The Eye?

Bill that bans late-term abortions also allows pharmacists to object giving out certain medication

Local NewsFriday, February 27, 2015 by Joey Peters

A bill that would ban abortions after a fetus reaches 20 weeks of gestation got predicted opposition from Democrats before passing the House Judiciary Committee—but not for the usual reasons. 

Steve Allen, a lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, was the first to bring up a tucked-in provision that gives pharmacists the right to refuse abortion medication to women based on personal and religious beliefs. 

"There's lots of reasons our organization opposes this bill," Allen told the committee, "but one aspect particularly troubling is the expanded religious exemption."

Currently, hospitals can refuse to perform abortions based on religious exemption statutes. But the late term abortion ban, sponsored by state Rep. Yvette Herrrell, R-Otero, expands that provision of the law by adding the "any pharmacist or any person under direction of a pharmacist" can refuse to dispense medicine that results in "the termination of a pregnancy." The bill defines pregnancy as the "implantation of a developing embryo." 

"I think this bill does much more than raise the issues addressed by its supporters," State Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe said. "The extent and reach of this is vastly broader than I have heard anyone discuss it at all."

Egolf argued that the bill's terminology in the medicine exemption provision is so broad that it can apply to women early in their pregnancy. A pharmacist could, for example, decide under personal beliefs not to give out the morning-after pill to a woman on her first day of pregnancy, Egolf argued. 

That's because a pharmacist, he argued, can under the bill decide decide "whether there has been implantation of an embryo."

"I can imagine that the morning-after pill, if a doctor writes a prescription of that, then we're going to get into a legal discussion," Egolf said. 

Two pills, Plan B and RU-486, are used in last-minute cases. Plan B prevents ovulation and fertilization. RU-486, known as the abortion pill, ends pregnancies that are seven weeks or younger.  Plan B is available without a prescription over the counter, but patients with insurance coverage can only access that benefit by using a prescription. 

The bill passed committee on a party line 7-6 vote. It now goes to the House floor. 

This Weekend

Get some culture

Weekend PicksFriday, February 27, 2015 by SFR

Je Suis Artoonist

In response to the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, cartoonist Issa Nyaphaga presents his political work. Nyaphaga once worked for the satirical paper during his time seeking asylum in Paris.

More Info >>

Dante's Ulysses

Gabe Pihas speaks on the integration of pagan and ancient text into Dante's largely Christian writings, focusing on the interaction between the writer and the character of Ulysses.

More Info >>


A Taste of Tibetan Music

Singers from the local Tibetan community share traditional songs while you sip on chai tea.

More Info >>

For Colored Girls

Ntozake Shange’s work combines poetry, drama, music, and dance to tell the story of seven different women of color who struggle with oppression in a racist and sexist society.

More Info >>


Spring Fever

Sepia floral tapestries by Romanian guest artist Lucia Grigore highlight a group show on the theme Botanica.

More Info >>

Dinner with Santa Fe Brewing

Santa Fe Brewing Company showcases their 2015 line of esoteric and heady hops, paired with exotic edibles from executive chefs Allan Keller and Brian Muller.

More Info >>




Get more information about how to spend your fun days when you sign up for the SFR Weekend newsletter, delivered to your inbox each Friday afternoon.

Morning Word: Martinez Doesn't Want to Win a Burrito

Former Gov. Gary Johnson will take one for the road

Morning WordFriday, February 27, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
The first of four winter storms has slammed into the New Mexico. There are almost 250 delays and closings around the state and icy slick roads are making driving conditions difficult. If you have flight plans you better check online before heading to the Sunport.

It's Friday, February 27, 2015

It doesn’t look Gov. Susana Martinez wants a chance to win a breakfast burrito. She’s turning down Sen. Michael Sanchez’, D-Belen, challenge to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test.

Read more at Roundhouse Roundup. 

Maybe Martinez knows that those standardized tests are “no day at the PARCC.”
Come March, when the standardized test known as PARCC makes its debut in schools, no one involved — students, parents, teachers and administrators — will leave the year unscathed by the high-stakes exam and the culture of testing it’s fostered. 
Read it at the Taos News. 

We’re pretty sure that former Gov. Gary Johnson wants a breakfast burrito and a healthy heaping of green chile before he leaves the state to run for president in 2016.

Read it at Reason.com  

While Johnson will probably have to sue to get into televised campaign debates, he got to debate marijuana legalization at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC yesterday.
“Having a debate right now over whether or not to legalize marijuana is kind of like having a debate over whether the sun is going to come up tomorrow,” Johnson said, drawing cheers from the audience. “I am one of the 100 million Americans who have used marijuana …I am anything but criminal for having done that.” 
Read more at The Blaze. 

La Frontera New Mexico, an Arizona-based behavioral health care provider, is also poised to head out of state after less than two years.
“It’s like watching the air slip out of a balloon. The balloon is collapsing,” Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said of the state’s behavioral health care system since the 2013 shake-up. “There are people with serious mental illnesses who are a danger to themselves and others out there, and they’re not getting care. They need our help, and we’re letting them down. What are we going to do with them?”


Read more at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

While everyone is racing for the exits, at least 102,000 New Mexico children have inched above the poverty level with the assistance of some government programs, according to the Annie E Casey Foundation.
There are more than 572,000 children under age 18 living in New Mexico, and 31 percent of them, or about 190,000 children, live in homes that are at or below the federal poverty level – $24,000 a year for a family of four. 
Rick Nathanson has more. 

Bernalillo County commissioners have approved a small tax hike to fund mental health needs, addiction treatment services and general county operations.
Beginning July 1, 2015, the three-sixteenths of a percent gross receipts tax will generate about $20 million dollars for mental health and $10 million for general operations per year. It will cost shoppers an additional one cent on a $10 purchase, according to the commission. The tax hike for mental health programs will fund supportive housing, a crisis response center, intensive case management and prevention programs. 
Read more at KOB. 

New Energy Economy, the nonprofit solar advocacy group leading the opposition to the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power replacement plan, says the utility’s current proposal “shifts the burden of PNM’s toxic assets from shareholders to ratepayers.”

Read my story at SFR. 

New Mexico Legislative News: 

  • Agriculture has always been big business in New Mexico. Now it looks like hemp has a good chance to become the state’s next cash crop – New Mexico Political Report.  
  • While the Hemp Research and Development bill is advancing, so is a bill that would limit the amount of lottery scholarships – Santa Fe New Mexican
  • Jerks who beat or abuse their kids could face tougher penalties soon – Albuquerque Journal
  • Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, doesn’t want publicly financed candidates, like those running for the public regulation commission, to be able to pay themselves with the money. He also wants to limit how much unopposed candidates receive – Deborah Baker has details
  • Smokers are going to have to take a deep breath and wait before they light up in a car with children in it. The House has approved the ban, 34-23 – Albuquerque Journal
  • First responders, like firefighters and police officers, could get additional assistance if they’re injured on the job – D’Val Westphal

A nurse hotline in New Mexico is being touted as one of the best in the nation.
In operation since 2006, it has kept tens of thousands of New Mexicans out of emergency rooms and saved the state more than $68 million in health care expenses. 
Read more about the service here. 

A group of Native Americans wants the City of Albuquerque to abolish Columbus Day. Leaders of a group calling itself Red Nation, say “Columbus Day celebrates genocide.”
“Indigenous peoples continue to be marginalized and exploited by racist holidays, mascots, imagery, and representation. By continuing to celebrate Columbus Day the City of Albuquerque contributes to the very palpable climate of racism against Indigenous people.” 
The group plans a drumming event and demonstration rally downtown tonight, beginning at 4:30 pm.

Read it at Native News. 

Enjoy your weekend. Hope you get to play in the snow. Stay safe and keep warm.

Embattled Charter School Administrator Weighed in on Veto

Under fire for a percieved conflict of interst, charter leader writes scathing letter urging action that governor later took

Local NewsFriday, February 27, 2015 by Joey Peters

The former administrator of an Albuquerque charter school being investigated by the FBI may have influenced the governor's veto of legislation that would have brought more regulations to charter schools.

During the 2013 state legislative session, state Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Bernalillo, carried a bill that would have, among other things, barred charter schools from making contracts with companies that the schools' employees or representatives have stakes in. 

It was this part of Beffort's "School Leases & Interest Conflicts" act that Scott Glasrud, then-head administrator of Southwest Secondary Learning Centers (SSLC), took issue with in an April 2013 email to state Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera. 

Beffort's bill had passed both chambers by wide margins, including unanimously in the state House of Representatives. But Gov. Susana Martinez gave it a pocket veto after the session. 

Whether he influenced the process or not, this was exactly what Glasrud requested from Skandera. 

"As written, SB333 should receive a VETO in its current form and the language should be worked out in the interim," Glasrud wrote to her. 

Among concerns about SSLC are Glasrud's co-ownership of a company that leases a building to the charter school. An audit also found that the school had spent $1.1 million on airplane rentals for its aviation program with the company, Diamond Aviation. Last summer, the FBI raided the school and seized documents.

A federal investigation is into the school is pending. PED's role in overseeing the school has been questioned.

But Enrique Knell, a spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez, says that charter school accountability has increased "dramatically" in recent years here. Beffort's bill, Knell says, "had some very good components in it, including disclosure requirements that are a step in the right direction."

"But the measure would have left kids out in the cold because it automatically kicked in, closing down schools immediately and hurting students," Knell says. "The measure would’ve also taken away critical flexibility between our school districts and charter schools."

In Glasrud's email to Skandera, the former administrator admits his school's situation was raising eyebrows. 

"In full disclosure, this provision was written into SB333 because of the interim [Legislative Finance Committee] report that identified apparent conflicts of interest by charter operators, administrators, and Board members," he wrote. "I had one of those apparent conflicts of interest." 

But Glasrud went on to write that all his conflicts were disclosed with the charter school's governing board before the contracts were made. Then he outlines how Beffort's legislation violates the state constitution and three state statutes.

The state constitution, he argues, doesn't allow the state to "immediately VOID existing contracts." He also cited a provision of the State Procurement Code that allows waivers "from contemporaneous employment and unlawful employee participation." 

Charter school leases need to be flexible, Glasrud argued, because "many charter schools are set up for specific purposes and to serve specific populations." 

"For example, schools set up to work with incarcerated youth are generally located within jails," he wrote.

At the end of the letter, Glasrud urges Skandera to do what she can. "I understand the Governor's Office is planning to review this legislation this evening," Glasrud wrote her. "Your assistance in bringing these concerns to her attention is greatly appreciated!"

Skandera responded with a thanks, saying she'll take his comments into consideration. PED Chief of Staff Ellen Hur says that the education department "agrees with the general concept" of Beffort's bill, "but had some concerns about potential unanticipated outcomes." She adds that it's "common practice" for every state agency to share feedback on legislation with the state legislature and the governor's office. 

Knell adds that Martinez "would support this bill with the minor tweaks it would need to address the unintended consequences."

Glasrud resigned from his position at the charter school shortly after the FBI raid. 

Read Glasrud's email to Skandera below:

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Morning Word: FCC Considers Net Neutrality Rules

Right-to-work legislation heads to state Senate

Morning WordThursday, February 26, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Bundle up because there are winter storm advisories and watches across much of New Mexico today and tomorrow. It’s going to be cold, wet and windy, and it looks like another storm is headed down from the Rockies, just in time for the weekend. Santa Fe public schools are on a normal schedule, but check here for other closings and delays. Also, state House lawmakers have approved right-to-work legislation along with an increase in the state’s minimum wage, but don’t get too excited yet, it still has to pass the Senate before going to the governor's office.

It's Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission plans to adopt net neutrality rules today. The details of the FCC's regulation haven't been released, despite objections from two Republican commissioners. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has revealed a broad outline of what he wants the FCC to do:
Prevent broadband providers from blocking any legal Internet content and prohibit them from creating fast lanes for content providers that pay extra for this prioritization.
Read more at ABQ Business First.
 
US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, wants to make sure federal workers continue to get paid if funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out.
In December, Congress passed a $1.014 trillion funding package that avoided a full government shutdown but left DHS and its more than 240,000 federal employees in limbo with only partial-year funding that expires this Friday, Feb. 27. The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act of 2015 is similar to language passed into law during or following previous government shutdowns. 
Read more at the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico, doesn’t want the Albuquerque Police Department to have access to a Department of Defense training center in the future.
The training center, east of Albuquerque in Coyote Canyon, offers a variety of classes for federal agents and the military to train on how to keep nuclear materials safe and secure. It also offers classes that cover topics such as “force on force,” “vehicle ambush,” and “tactical leadership,” according to the training center’s website. 
Lujan Grisham cited APD’s use of force and questions about police militarization as reasons to suspend the training.

Police reporter Ryan Boetel has the details.

Photojournalists are questioning why two City of Albuquerque officials shut down a fired police officer’s personnel hearing because they didn’t want to be “depicted” on video recording. While administrative hearings are quasi-judicial, they are required to follow civil procedures and state law. The New Mexico Open Meetings Act requires government employees make reasonable accommodations for both audio and video recordings.

Independent journalist Charles Arasim has some video before he was shut down. 

While school board members contemplate new contract incentives to retain Superintendent Joel Boyd, people in Fort Worth Texas are questioning if he’s the best choice to lead their district.

Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

After being suspended for a day for walking out of class to protest PARCC tests, a group of teens want to set up a meeting with Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera.

Joey Peters has the story at SFR.

Las Cruces students are planning to protest the new tests by walking out of class on Monday.

See more at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 

Some parents are still trying to figure out if they are legally permitted to opt their children out of the tests.

KRQE has the answer.

The Public Regulation Commission has decided to wait until after lawmakers consider how ridesharing companies – like Lyft and Uber – should be regulated in New Mexico before issuing the companies actual operating permits.

The Associated Press has more. 

After a series of court rulings, New Mexicans are paying more for uninsured motorists insurance, according to Insurance Superintendent Gene Franchini.
In the most recent case, Franchini said, a 2010 state Supreme Court decision allowed people who had an uninsured claim within the previous seven years to reopen their claims and renegotiate the settlements, forcing insurance carriers to pay out around $350 million in additional claims they hadn’t set aside reserves to cover. 
Rosalie Rayburn has the details. 

New Mexico Legislative News: 

  • After weeks of debate, House members voted 37-30 to pass right-to-work legislation – Santa Fe New Mexican. 
  • A majority of states have independent ethics commissions, now New Mexico is one step closer to getting its own – Deborah Baker has more.  
  • Bills to protect children are rolling smoothly through the Legislature – Vik Jolly has a recap.
  • Investigative reporter Larry Barker, following bills that require more health care pricing transparency, reveals some of the hospitals’ secrets – KRQE
  • A measure that would allow beer and wine delivery to people’s home is advancing through committees – Santa Fe New Mexican
  • New Mexico Supreme Court justices are considering whether the City of Albuquerque can ban its employees from serving in the Legislature – Dan McKay reports
  • The Senate has confirmed two more of Gov. Susana Martinez’ cabinet secretaries – Dan Boyd
  • New Mexico In Depth has been tracking lobbyist spending in Santa Fe, now they have a story about how other states have more extensive reporting requirements, including disclosure of which bills they are working on – Michael Sol Warren
  • If teachers can be evaluated and ranked, Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, thinks cabinet secretaries should also be evaluated and scored – Milan Simonich


Lee Zlotoff, the man who created MacGyver, is headed to Santa Fe to open a new publishing house. "It'll be cheaper to find designers and editors in Santa Fe than in San Francisco or New York City, and Santa Fe is a very cosmopolitan town; there's a certain Bohemian cool to it," he said.

Dan Mayfield has more. 

Billy the Kid’s hideout house during the Lincoln County War is for sale.

See more the historic property here.  

More details are emerging from that newsroom fracas at KOB.

ABQ Free Press has the scoop. 

Power Plan Limbo

Opposition to PNM replacement proposal for sources of electricity remains high as decision looms

Local NewsThursday, February 26, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
The Public Service Company of New Mexico’s power replacement plan is still up in the air, and it doesn’t look like anything will be decided before April.

The investor-owned utility wants public regulation commissioners to approve its proposal to acquire another 132 megawatts of coal-generated electricity and to bring nuclear power, which is currently bought on the open market from the Palo Verde plant in Arizona, into its New Mexico rate base.

Environmental groups support PNM's plan to shutter two coal stacks at the San Juan Generating Station as a way to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Regional Haze Program, but they oppose PNM's future reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Ashley Schannauer, an independent hearing examiner for the state Public Regulation Commission, has been considering stakeholder briefs submitted to him on Feb. 16 at the conclusion of three weeks of public hearings. The parties were scheduled to file responses to those briefs this week. After Schannauer issues his recommendation, commissioners have the power to make the final decision. No date is set for that vote.

In the meantime, PNM executives claim that their proposal meets legal requirements and is the most reliable and cost efficient for consumers, but renewable energy groups and other stakeholders disagree and have withdrawn their support for a stipulated agreement between the attorney general’s staff and utility.

Attorneys who wrote PNM’s brief in support of the plan contend that employees investigated a “myriad set of circumstances” and renewable alternatives, but that they “didn’t adequately” meet risk or reliability requirements.

Mariel Nanasi, the executive director for New Energy Economy, a nonprofit renewable energy advocacy group who led the charge against PNM’s proposed power plan, says the proposal included more than $1 billion in mathematical calculation errors.

She thinks the real risk is PNM’s reliance on coal and nuclear-generated power.

“PNM wants PRC commissioners to have ratepayers invest in a plant that only operates at 75 percent reliability,” Nanasi tells SFR. “Their predetermined plan, which simply taps their own resources, has nothing to do with the genuine stakeholder process that is required by state law and regulatory process.”

Nanasi tells SFR, in her view, the current proposal “shifts the burden of PNM’s toxic assets from shareholders to ratepayers.”

Before Schannauer finalizes his reports, Nanasi wants him to strike testimony from PRC Bureau Chief Brunno Carrara “because he illegally owned stock in PNM at the same he was offering agency staff support for the plan.”

Nan Winter, an attorney representing the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility District, writes in a brief that the district withdrew its original support for the stipulated agreement after discovering significant changes and “mistakes.”

“Unfortunately, in this case, should the stipulating parties prevail in getting Commission approval of the Stipulation, all New Mexico ratepayers will bear the risks of these changed circumstances,” writes Winter, urging the commission to reject the plan.

If the PNM’s plan is rejected, it's not clear what the next move would be. Gerard Ortiz, the company's vice president of regulatory affairs, told SFR late last year that rejection or modification of the proposal would lead PNM to " evaluate our options in light of the final order."

Western Resources, Renewable Energy Industries Association, and New Mexico Independent Power Producers have backed out of the Oct. 14, 2014 stipulated agreement, however, it looks like PNM can still count on support from the New Mexico Attorney General’s office, New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers and PRC’s staff.

The New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers group includes Intel. The semiconductor company is the only company in PNM's 30-megawatt rate classification category. At the same time PNM has asked commissioners to consider raising consumer rates by 16 percent, Intel's own rates could be decreased by close to 1.5 percent.

PNM declined multiple requests from SFR to comment on Intel's rate reduction or to answer questions about whether it's tied to Intel's support of the utility's power replacement plan.

Read for yourself. Below, you'll find documents submitted to the PRC's independent hearing officer.

Protesting the PARCC

Suspended teens want meeting with state officals about the standardized test

Local NewsWednesday, February 25, 2015 by Joey Peters

A dozen Santa Fe High School students stood in front of the state Public Education Department today, calling for a meeting with Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera over testing that they say goes too far.

Protests also occurred on Monday and Tuesday, with students walking out of local high schools to express opposition to the PARCC test, a standardized exam that replaces the state's flagship Standards Based Assessment (SBA) test this year. 

Don Jaramillo, a 17-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School, says he and the other students who walked out this morning to protest were suspended for the rest of the day. So they came downtown. 

"If we're going to get suspended, we're going to go to the capitol," says Jaramillo, pictured left. 

Jaramillo says he and his classmates want to express their concerns about the PARCC test. Part of his opposition relates to PARCC's replacement of the SBA.

"We've been taught to do the SBA since third grade," he says. "So we've been practicing our whole life."

In contrast, Jaramillo says specific training for PARCC only began this week. The test, which will take an estimated nine hours to complete over multiple weeks, is also intended to be taken completely on computers. Jaramillo says a practice math test he took for PARCC on a computer recently didn't show him his score. 

He also says the test is taking time from learning in the classroom. 

PARCC's ties to New Mexico run deep. A federally consortium of 14 states, PARCC is an acronym for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers. Each state belonging to the consortium is essentially opted into using the PARCC assessment as its standardized test. 

Last year, the state Public Education Department took on the task of serving as the fiscal agent for a contract to write and administer the test in the entire consortium. The state awarded the contract to education giant corporation Pearson, and critics immediately questioned whether the contract was rigged. A lawsuit over the matter is pending in Santa Fe District Court (for more on this, read here). 

Though a meeting with Skandera didn't seem likely on Wednesday, the students did talk with Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Joel Boyd yesterday.

"We got some answers from him," Jaramillo says, "but we don't know if he supports us because he's leaving."

Boyd was named the lone finalist earlier this month for a more lucrative superintendent position in Fort Worth. He hasn't publicly accepted the job yet. 

Students say a big protest, involving both Santa Fe High School and Capital High School, is planned for Friday. 

Morning Word: Homeland Security Budget Held Hostage

State budget proposal passes the House

Morning WordWednesday, February 25, 2015 by Peter St. Cyr
Unless federal lawmakers come up with a solution to fund the US Department of Homeland Security in the next day, government workers, including hundreds in New Mexico, face furloughs. At least there's fresh powder on the ski slopes. That, plus details on how state House members finally passed a big state budget proposal.

It's Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The debate over funding the Department of Homeland Security is ramping up as lawmakers near a deadline tomorrow to work through the gridlock, essentially a futile Republican effort to undercut President Barack Obama’s action to reform immigration policy last fall. The impact in New Mexico could be big if no budget is passed. For example, federal law enforcement cadets training in Artesia could be sent home without paychecks if Congress fails to pass a budget by the end of the week.
DHS employees deemed “essential,” such as Border Patrol officers, Transportation Security Administration agents and Secret Service employees, would still be required to come to work under law, but would not be paid unless Congress agreed to make the U.S. Treasury Department cut checks retroactively. 
At the end of previous government shutdowns, federal workers have been issued back pay.

Michael Coleman has details. 

The New Mexico Environment Department wants a decades worth of records from Los Alamos National Laboratory to determine how it manages nuclear waste.
The new demand calls into question whether the lab has withheld information from environmental regulators investigating its role in a radiation leak last year, and whether a threat of another event lurks in more drums of waste packaged at Los Alamos that may have been mislabeled.


Read Patrick Malone’s story here. 

To make travel in New Mexico safer, a national transportation company has recommended some big road improvement projects.
The report makes recommendations for bridge construction, highway remodeling and improvements to transportation centers. The No. 1 recommendation from the report was to remodel US 82 in Eddy and Lea Counties into a four-lane highway. 
See the Top 25 at ABQ Business First. 

WildEarth Guardians has filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers and US Fish and Wildlife Services’ $287-million levee project along the Rio Grande.
The group claims the planned construction of dozens of miles of levees from the San Acacia Dam south to the Elephant Butte Reservoir would have a negative effect on the Rio Grande silvery minnow and other endangered species. 
Associated Press reporter Susan Montoya Bryan has details.  

Santa Fe Public School board members who want to retain Superintendent John Boyd are getting creative. They’re considering contract revisions to keep Boyd here after he was named a finalist to become the new school boss in Fort Worth, Texas.

Reporter TS Lang has the story. 

Journalist Joey Peters reports New Mexico officials may have impeded efforts to get more uninsured people signed up for the state’s health care exchange.
Last fall, Gov. Susana Martinez and state Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier wrote letters approving the state exchange’s application for a $97.9 million federal grant for the next three years. Though their letters endorsed the effort, they also used tongue-in-cheek language questioning the very purpose of the federal dollars they were seeking. 
Read “Obamacareless” at SFR. 

Santa Fe County Commissioners are considering a one-eighth of one percent increase in the gross receipts tax. The money may be needed to replace money taken back from the governor and state legislature.
County Manager Katherine Miller said the new revenue initially would be used primarily to finance the redevelopment of the old judicial building on Catron Street downtown into a county administration building, as well as other county facility renovations and building maintenance. 
Read it at the Santa Fe New Mexican. 

The Solid Waste Management Agency in Santa Fe County is considering hauling its recyclables out of town.

Read why at SFR. 

A woman who admits she defrauded St. Vincent Regional Hospital in Santa Fe was sentenced to 21 years in prison, but likely won’t see a day behind bars. Lorretta Mares, who pled guilty to helping embezzle $3.1 million in 2013, must complete five years of supervised probation.

Reporter Phaedra Haywood has the story. 

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed First Judicial District Judge Jennifer Attrep to fill a vacancy on the bench created by the non-retention of Judge Sheri Raphaelson.

Read it at the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

Residents in Santa Teresa may have to wait until next year to vote on incorporation.

Details at the Las Cruces Sun-News. 


New Mexico Legislative News:

  • After a long debate on the House floor, a $6.2-million budget proposal is headed to the Senate – New Mexico Political Report
  • Data journalist Sandra Fish reports lobbyists have spent $231,000 halfway through the session – New Mexico In Depth. 
  • A bipartisan bill that would make hospital service pricing information more transparent in headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee – Gwyneth Doland on KUNM.
  • A modified version of Kendra’s Law, that would require some mentally-ill patients to seek treatment, has passed the Senate – Albuquerque Journal
  • Motorcyclists won’t be required to wear helmets in New Mexico anytime soon – New Mexico Political Report. 
  • Lawmakers are considering a new tribal gaming compact that would allow casinos to offer $10,000 credit limits to high rollers – ABQ Journal. 

A fight between two of New Mexico’s best known television journalists may have been blown out of portion. While KOB Anchor Tom Joles is at home “cooling off” after a shouting match with Stuart Dyson, the rumor that punches were thrown is being denied by station Manager Mike Burgess.

Read more at the ABQ Journal. 

#JeSuisArtShow

New art exhibit speaks volumes

PicksWednesday, February 25, 2015 by Enrique Limón

For artist Issa Nyaphaga, the Paris attacks of Jan. 7 hit close to home.

“I was a cartoonist in exile in Paris from 1996 to 2006, and the first year I got there, I was a contributor for Charlie Hebdo,” the globally inspired cartoonist and activist says.

His political cartoons had gotten him in hot water in his native Cameroon, and so Nyaphaga forged a new life after asylum was granted.

Still with a knot on his throat, he recalls the legacy of editor Stéphane Charbonnier and his slain staff. “I knew them all. It was like an earthquake in my life,” Nyaphaga says.

“I was devastated,” he continues. “Because, you know, cartoonists are people who have very, very good hearts. They want to change the world, and they only use paper and ink to do that.”

Channeling his grief and hope for political change, the now Santa Fe-based artist unveils Je Suis Artoonist, 45 pieces strong, this Friday at the CCA.

“The public opinion doesn’t take cartoonists seriously,” he says of the medium. “You can fill an entire speech with just one image. It’s the first thing people see in newspapers—your work.”

Surpassing “the joker” role and facing threats head-on, he says, is what has translated the artform into a “very important critical work.”

He finalizes, “In the democracy process, cartoons are really the medium that is critical. It can change civilization.”


Je Suis Artoonist
5-7 pm Friday, Feb. 27
CCA Cinematheque Lobby
1050 Old Pecos Trail,
982-1338


Greenhouse

News BriefsTuesday, February 24, 2015 by Joey Peters

Despite the long odds, two bills to reform New Mexico marijuana laws are making progress in the state Senate.

While a bill from Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, to tax and regulate marijuana died a lopsided death in the state House of Representatives earlier this month, a similar measure by state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Bernalillo, quietly passed the Senate Rules Committee the following week.

The narrow approval of Ortiz y Pino’s bill, a constitutional amendment that would allow statewide voters to approve legalization or not, marks the first time any marijuana legalization bill has passed a committee in the Roundhouse. The bill passed committee on a 5-4 mostly party-line vote, with state Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Cibola, voting no, and state Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Chaves, not present.

The bill now sits before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Another proposal that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession cleared the Senate Public Affairs Committee last week on a 4-2 party-line vote. The bill would reduce the charge of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana from a petty misdemeanor on the first offense to a fine of $50. All subsequent offenses would be considered petty misdemeanors and a felony for possessing more than eight ounces.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Doña Ana, now sits before the Senate Judiciary Committee as well.

Two bills to allow industrial hemp use are also making traction in both chambers. In the upper chamber, a bill by state Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Bernalillo, passed the Senate Conservation Committee unanimously but without recommendation. A similar bill in the lower chamber by state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Bernalillo, got a warm reception in the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee but has not yet been acted on.


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