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Local News

  • 2017 State Legislature; Senators halt proposal to revive state school board

    By Robert Nott

    The New Mexican

    Five Democrats joined four Republicans on Monday to block a bill that would have eliminated the job of Cabinet secretary of public education and resurrected a statewide board to oversee schools in New Mexico.

    The Senate Rules Committee voted 9-2 to table Senate Joint Resolution 2, a proposed constitutional amendment to create a 10-member school board that in turn would hire a secretary of education. In the existing system, the governor appoints someone to run the Public Education Department.

    Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, introduced the resolution, saying it would return power to school districts and would allow the state board to hire or fire a secretary of education at will.

    "If the individual [secretary] does a poor job, the state school board can take that individual out of the position," Padilla told the committee. Otherwise, he said, even if a secretary of education is doing a good job, a newly elected governor could "turn it upside down" by hiring his or her own person for the job.

  • 2017 State Legislature: New Mexico Legislature, Congress diverging on gun sales checks

    By Steve Terrell

    The New Mexican

    A House committee on Saturday advanced a bill that would expand required background checks to include most gun purchases in New Mexico.

    After a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-1 along party lines in favor of House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos. The committee's action mirrored that of a Senate panel that last week approved an identical proposal, Senate Bill 48.

    While the New Mexico Legislature is moving toward expanding mandatory background checks, Congress is heading in the other direction.

    The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted 235-180 to scuttle an Obama-era rule requiring background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities. If this measure passes the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, Republican President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

    In presenting her state bill Saturday, Garcia Richard said her family owns guns. But, she said, "New Mexico has a problem, a problem that contributes to New Mexico being the deadliest state for domestic violence."

  • 2017 State Legislature: Bills to stop contract buyouts die in House committee

    A state House committee on Friday tabled two pieces of legislation aimed at stopping public school superintendents, college presidents and university coaches from getting what some lawmakers referred to as a “golden parachute” when their contracts are terminated early.
    The House Education Committee action effectively killed both bills, sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque.
    The decisions came on bipartisan votes, with some lawmakers and members of the education community arguing that the measures would hinder the ability of school districts and colleges to recruit high-quality candidates for top jobs.
    Much of the discussion Friday centered on recent controversy involving Robert Frank, the former president of The University of New Mexico who agreed to step down in December under a deal with the board of regents that allows him to continue collecting his annual salary of $350,000 through May.
    Under the agreement, Frank can continue working at UNM in a $190,000-a-year tenured position. In the meantime, he has been job hunting. Frank is one of four finalists for the president’s position at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

  • 2017 State Legislature: Panel OK’s ban on conversion therapy

    BY STEVE TERRELL
    The New Mexican

  • 2017 State Legislature: House committee advances bill allowing doctor’s aid in dying

    A parent tries to starve herself to death. A cancer patient wonders how long she will have to suffer before the disease destroys her. And across the state, New Mexicans hear the pleas of ailing loved ones to let them die.
    Hours of personal stories Friday about sickness, pain, dignity and death moved lawmakers to tears. Then a committee of the House of Representatives voted along party lines to advance a bill that would allow medical professionals to assist terminally ill patients in ending their own lives.
    The 4-3 vote came only months after the New Mexico Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the case of a cancer patient who wanted the option to end her own life with the help of a doctor. The state’s highest court decided New Mexico law does not expressly provide patients the right to medical assistance in dying, and suggested the Legislature should clarify the issue.
    House Bill 171, endorsed Friday by the House Health and Human Services Committee, would change a 1963 law that made it a fourth-degree felony for anyone to assist in a person’s suicide. The law would allow medical professionals to aid in an adult’s death by prescribing lethal drugs, provided that the patient meets certain criteria.

  • Today in history Feb. 6
  • Bond election website updated with latest renderings and costs

    Los Alamos County voters will have a chance to vote on a $20 million recreation bond package with a mail-in ballot in May.

    The bond package includes funding to build a multi-generational pool, splash pad and a recreation center with a multipurpose activity center that houses two gymnasium spaces, a running track and indoor ice arena.

    The bond package would also provide for golf course and softball field improvements.

    The Los Alamos County Council will vote on the election resolution at the Feb. 14 regularly scheduled Council meeting.

    The Dekker Perich Sabatini (DPS) team is updating the Los Alamos Bond Projects website with the latest renderings and information.  The updates will be live by the Feb. 14 council meeting.

    If residents have questions, or need more information, they can email info@losalamosbondprojects2017.com.

  • Council nixes plan to get real estate agent

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 6–0 to reverse a decision made by last year’s council in December to market parcels A-8 and A-12/A-13 through a real estate agent. Councilor James Chrobocinski recused himself from the proceedings.
    Councilor Rick Reiss introduced motions to suspend council rules and reconsider the matter, after which County Manager Harry Burgess presented several arguments for marketing those properties directly.
    Burgess’s two key points were that the county has a new economic development administrator who is versed in property development issues and that the market has changed significantly.
    According to Burgess, the county has received numerous expressions of interest from developers on the parcels in question, and also inquiries about A-9, a property across from A-8 on DP Road.
    He attributed the surge of interest to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s intention to fill approximately 2,000 positions in the next five years and an extremely tight housing market.
    “We are looking at an opportunity unprecedented in the county’s history, primarily for the ability to grow somewhere towards the goal set by prior councils of 20,000 people by 2020, if we can just get moving on these properties,” Burgess said.
    Staff has calculated a maximum need for 2,800 new homes.

  • Rep. Grijalva stirs interest in federal land issues

    Residents upset and concerned by what they perceive as threats to America’s national monuments and protected ancient sites due to a change in presidential administrations got some comfort and support from Democrat Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-3) of Arizona last week.
    Grijalva visited Fuller Lodge Jan. 27 to reignite interest and awareness of the federal Antiquities Act. He said he also came to let people know how letting their Congressional representatives know how they feel about their national historic sites and antiquities will keep them protected.
    He encouraged audience members to write to Congress members outside their districts.
    “It doesn’t matter what zip code you’re in, it doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been here 10 generations or one generation, you own a little piece of all those public places,” Grijalva said.
    Many came to hear Grijalva because they think President Donald Trump may try to undo much of the protection status former President Barack Obama granted through presidential proclamation and the Antiquities Act to several national sites before he left office.  

  • NRA visits LA to speak out against gun bills

    A lobbyist from the National Rifle Association spoke to members of Los Alamos Sportsman’s Club Thursday night to galvanize support against two gun background check bills in play the state Legislature.
    NRA State Liaison Tara Mica urged members of the club to attend a Saturday hearing to speak out against HB 50 and SB 48.
    The bills will be heard beginning at 10 a.m. in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on the House Floor.
    “It’s really close. It’s on a weekend, If you can make it, we really need good strong attendance there,” Mica said. “Most of the advocates for this bill live right there in Santa Fe. It’s not a long trip for them.”
    HB 50 is sponsored by State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and State Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-14), and SB 48 is sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez (D-5) and State Sen. Pete Wirth (D-5).
    Mica described the bills as ones similar to written by “Everytown For Gun Safety,” a nonprofit organization formed in 2014 to reform gun laws in the U.S. She said the bills in the New Mexico Legislature are similar to the ones Everytown has written and passed in other states, including Nevada.