Both Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislative Finance Committee want money for a water conservation plan they say will help the state address looming litigation over the state's water obligations to Texas ($TNM). Under the Rio Grande Compact, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas all receive water allocations from the river. But Texas, in 2013, claimed New Mexico's farmers were using too much water. That claim remains in legal limbo after the US Supreme Court in 2017 denied New Mexico's request to dismiss it. The governor wants $10 million to implement the water conservation program, while the LFC proposes $30 million for a three-year rollout. State Engineer John D'Antonio says the plan is a good start at addressing the situation, but also emphasized the urgency of the pending legality of Texas' complaint. "There's no telling what could happen with a significant judgment against New Mexico," he said.
And then there were three?
As early as today, the City of Santa Fe may release the names of short-list finalists still in contention to develop the Midtown campus ($TNM). The Santa Fe New Mexican reports it appears as if the city sent rejection letters to four of the seven applicants at the end of last week. Reportedly remaining in the running: Raffles Education Corp., which at one point appeared poised to purchase the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design; Central Park Santa Fe; and a partnership between Dallas-based KDC Real Estate Development & Investments and Cienda Partners. The city has thus far only released names and no details about proposals to redevelop the campus into an amalgam of housing, education and business. A controversial proposal from Los Alamos National Laboratory does not appear to have made the final cut.
Rodella stays in prison
US District Judge James Browning on Friday denied former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Tommy Rodella's request to be released from a federal prison in Texas. Rodella's lawyers argued that a June ruling by the US Supreme Court—US v. Davis—entitled him to have part of his 10-year sentence dismissed. Rodella was sentenced in 2015 on two federal charges connected to a road-rage incident during his tenure as sheriff. Seven years of his sentence were the result of what's known as a firearms enhancement—applicable in Rodella's case because he brandished his gun during the incident. The US Supreme Court's decision struck down the federal firearms enhancement as "unconstitutionally vague." Browning, however, said Rodella was sentenced under a different clause that wasn't struck down. Rodella's attorneys told The Albuquerque Journal they haven't decided whether or not they will appeal the decision.
Navajo Nation pushes back on Chaco
ICYMI, the Navajo Nation last Thursday voted to only support a buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park that is half the size of the one outlined in legislation pending before Congress. That bill, supported by New Mexico's congressional delegation, prevents the Bureau of Land Management from leasing oil, gas, and minerals on BLM land within a 10-mile radius of the park. Navajo lawmakers, however, say some landowners worry the buffer could compromise their mineral rights and the money they earn through lease payments and royalties. Navajo President Jonathan Nez, as well as some Navajo communities and pueblos, support the 10-mile buffer. Nez said the Navajo council's vote was "concerning" and worried it could impact the vote in Congress.
NM reaction to Bryant’s death
Local reaction to the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday, echoed the shock and grief around the country ($LAT). "Kobe Bryant's death is a tremendous loss to the world," US Rep. Deb Haaland, D-NM, tweeted. "We offer our deepest condolences to his family. His athleticism and sportsmanship have been an inspiration to millions of kids worldwide and we mourn this tragic loss." Scott Galetti, with ESPN radio in Albuquerque, who covered Bryant at the end of his career, said: "He was basically the face of the LA Lakers. He transcended LA and he did a lot for the city off the court. People who didn't know him personally felt like they knew him because he literally grew up in front of the city of Los Angeles." Former Lobo Kenny Thomas also expressed condolences on Twitter, saying: "Words cannot adequately express how devastating this loss is. He was always so kind and genuine to me."
In Episode 5 of "Your New Mexico Government," a podcast devoted to the 54th Legislature, SFR Editor and Publisher Julie Ann Grimm shares some insights on what happened in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee when the Administrative Office of the Courts submitted the unified judiciary budget with the New Mexico Supreme Court. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, New Mexico PBS and KUNM radio.
SFR reports on three proposed laws in this year's Legislature that aim to further Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's goal to make New Mexico "the nation's clean energy leader." The Community Solar Act, SB 143, opens up access for anyone to purchase a share or subscription to a local community solar project. The Solar Tax Credit, SB 29, would allow individuals to apply for an income tax credit equivalent to 10% of the costs of purchasing and installing new solar systems on their residences, businesses or agricultural projects. The Electric Vehicle Tax Credit, SB 2, would let any New Mexico resident claim an income tax credit of $2,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle.
Guadalupe merchants banded together in 2018 when their businesses and restaurants began experiencing a downside in customers. One initiative involved raising money for a banner program to help promote the area. "We just really wanted to brand ourselves and have a visual cue that when people were driving up and down the street or walking up and down they knew they were in a specific district that had amenities to offer them," Curioso owner Shawna Tatom says. The group created a prototype and ushered their plan through the city's permitting process. But momentum stalled after merchants placed a down payment with a local sign maker who then stopped returning phone calls and emails. SFR talked with the merchants and went to visit the sign maker to see what was up.
Count on it
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 28, representatives from the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and Somos Un Pueblo Unido will launch Citizenship & Census Corners in the Southside Branch Library Community Room. The outreach effort at all three Santa Fe Public Libraries will make available information and study materials in English and Spanish for residents looking to naturalize, as well as information about how and why to participate in Census 2020. Officials also will discuss their
Muddy the waters
Forecasts call for a slight chance of rain and snow showers before 11am, scattered rain showers between 11am and 5 pm, and a slight chance of rain and snow showers after 5 pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. Overall chance of precipitation: 30%, with a total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch. Those precipitation odds shrink to 20% overnight, with a slight chance of rain and snow showers before 8 pm. Back to sunny tomorrow, but both Wednesday and Thursday currently have small possibilities for snow as well.