Opening day at the Legislature

Lawmakers will convene at the state Roundhouse today for a 30-day session, tackling education, cannabis legalization and a whole slew of other proposed bills, while aiming to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham set forth her priorities last week, and will speak of them in her address to legislators when the session opens at noon. See a live feed of the governor's speech at sfreporter.com, and follow along as journalists annotate it with notes and commentary. During the session, SFR also will host a daily legislative podcast, "Your NM Gov," produced by KUNM. You can listen to the first one here previewing the session with New Mexico PBS Producer Matt Grubs.

Free college…for some?

Lawmakers on the Legislative Finance Committee say they support making college affordable, but question the feasibility of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's call to make it free for everyone. An LFC report released yesterday raised a variety of concerns about the proposed Opportunity Scholarship. Among them, the LFC cites researchers who say tuition is not the main obstacle for college attendance but, rather, the remaining costs, such as books, transportation, housing and food. Moreover, the report states the initial estimated cost of the proposed scholarship— $35 million—may not be accurate, and that it might cost as much as $49 million to implement.

Lawmakers ask for open meetings ruling

Several New Mexico legislators want the New Mexico Attorney General's Office to investigate whether the Children, Youth and Families Department violated the state's Open Meetings Act ($TNM). Republican Reps. Kelly Fajardo, Rebecca Dow and David Gallegos have asked AG Hector Balderas whether the department is violating OMA by holding closed-door meetings of its child protective services task force. The task force was created during the last legislative session to find ways to improve CYFD's Protective Services Division policies. By holding closed meetings, the lawmakers wrote to the AG, "what stakeholders and other concerned citizens thought would be an open opportunity to discuss how to promote the safety and security of our state's most vulnerable population was in reality a process dominated by secret meetings and unwanted public involvement."

State settles lawsuit with SFR

ICYMI, the State of New Mexico settled its lawsuit with SFR last year for $360,000, which covers the legal fees for a successful claim against the former Gov. Susana Martinez administration for violation of the state Inspection of Public Records Act ($TNM). The late state District Judge Sarah Singleton in 2017 ruled in favor of SFR's public records claim, but denied the claim that Martinez' administration discriminated against SFR for access to information. The settlement pays the costs for SFR's legal team, Daniel Yohalem and Katherine Murray. "The newspaper and our legal team were really happy when we came to a settlement that allowed our legal team to get paid for their long hard work," SFR Publisher and Editor Julie Ann Grimm said.

Meow Wolf in Vegas

Forbes magazine predicts 2020 will be a huge year for Las Vegas, Nevada, in large part due to the anticipated opening of the Meow Wolf-anchored Area15. Described as "an experiential retail and entertainment complex offering live events, immersive activations, art installations and much more," Area15's website says it will feature "an ever-changing corridor filled with one-of-a-kind art installations, engaging brand activations, unique commerce and inspiring food and beverage offerings." Regarding the latter, Forbes also reports the recent partnership between Area15 and celebrity chef Todd English, who will be opening a food hall there. According to a Las Vegas Review Journal December article, Area15's February opening was delayed to May or June due to the installation of a zip line. If you want to buy early-bird tickets, Meow Wolf is selling them here.

Vital mission

This week, Hyperallergic magazine profiles Vital Spaces, a Santa Fe nonprofit attempting to transform the city's empty spaces into studio and gallery spaces for artists. Specifically, Hyperallergic looks at Vital Spaces' expansion onto the Midtown campus, where it is leasing four to six studios, along with a large exhibition area. Vital Spaces' use of campus space comes as City of Santa Fe officials continue evaluating several master plan proposals ($TNM) for the former home of Santa Fe University of Art and Design and the College of Santa Fe. "We are working in the interim time," Vital Spaces founder Jonathan Boyd tells Hyperallergic. "What is possible in this space right now?"

Pinball wizard

He came. He played. He won. Robert Brooks emerged over the weekend as the winner of the first New Mexico State Pinball Championship, held at 505 Pinball in Rio Rancho. Sixteen of the state's top pinball players competed for the honor; Brooks will now represent the state at the March 5 National Tournament in Denver. "Everybody wants to be the best at something at some point in their life," Brooks says. Truer words. If you've been secretly wanting to get your pinball on, SFR wrote about Santa Fe's very own pinball group last year, which meets regularly to flip out.

Get wet

According to the National Weather Service, Santa Fe is likely to experience rain and snow showers early in the morning, and then again late in the morning, as well as in the afternoon. We think that's meteorology talk for a chance of rain and snow all day long. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch. Highs in the upper 30s. Tonight will be mostly cloudy, with yet again another chance of rain and snow in the evening, and low temperatures in the 30-degree range. West winds 15 to 20 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word hopes come spring to take advantage of American Airlines' new nonstop flight from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, even if it does only operate on Saturdays ($TNM).