Oh, and have a nice Friday the 13th.
- There are other races besides governor and state House races. A Democratic PAC is targeting Secretary of State races around the country and New Mexico is on their list.
- The U.S. House passed a budget deal with Reps Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan voting for it and Steve Pearce voting against.
- Public Education Department secretary-designate Hanna Skandera unveiled a new retention plan.
Like previous reading-intervention bills, this one calls for third-graders to be held back if they are not reading at grade level. But no students would be held back before the 2016 school year to give intervention policies, which would begin next year, a chance to have an impact.
Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera unveiled the plan Thursday before the Legislative Education Study Committee. Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, introduced the draft bill, titled “Academic Success Through Remediation Act,” on Skandera’s behalf. Kernan and Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Las Cruces, are backing the bill, Kernan and Skandera said.
Previous versions of the legislation have been blocked and it shows the Martinez administration is bending — on this issue at least. Does this show that Martinez will also be willing to compromise on the issue of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants?
- State Sen. Tim Keller introduced his bill to allow parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.
Although parents can already legally request such waivers, Keller’s proposal would prevent the request from affecting a student’s ability to participate in sports or other activities, move up in grade level and graduate, among other things.
“Right now, we’re looking at an environment where students are just test-taking machines,” said Keller, who added that his proposal is based on similar Texas legislation.
- A letter to PED secretary-designate Skandera passed a vote of the Los Alamos Public Schools teachers.
“Ballots are still coming in, but when we cut the count, 199 teachers responded out of a possible 298,” he said. “Of those 199, that responded 96.9 percent of those who responded said ‘yes,’ please send the letter to Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera.”
Schmidt added that 199 out of 298 meant that 66 percent of the teachers in the system responded, “which is a very good number,” he said to the board.
- Carlos Cisneros had the quote of the day, Steve Terrell writes.
At yesterday’s Legislative Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, perked up everyone’s ears when he accused the state Human Services Department of “skulduggery.”
“I’m more confused, baffled and bamboozled today more than any time in the past several months. This is the greatest extent of skulduggery I’ve witnessed in decades.”
- The U.S. government field a brief on the New Mexico-Texas water dispute.
The Supreme Court should take up the case as Texas wants but also adopt a procedural approach that gives New Mexico a chance to quickly get decisions on key issues and try to get the case dismissed, the office urged.
Texas contends that groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico means Texas water users are being deprived of Rio Grande water, while New Mexico argues that Texas is getting what’s required under a compact between the states and that the Supreme Court should let other courts consider the dispute.
- A city council candidate in Santa Fe is challenging a ruling from the city clerk that she did not qualify for public financing.
- New Mexico Mercury and La Jicarita have part two of their look at “corporate education reform.” This one has more focus on New Mexico and Gov. Susana Martinez’s efforts to institute reform.
- The city of Albuquerque is spending more on phone service than other cities of similar size — and even larger cities.
An audit found the city could save millions of dollars by updating their phone system. It is something other cities have already done. Chief Information Officer for the city of Albuquerque, Peter Ambs, says it’s a one-time cost of up to $20 million dollars, but he says the switch will pay for itself in a few years.
- Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall want protection for the Organ Mountains.
Udall and Heinrich said establishing the area as a monument would help conservation efforts and boost economic development for the border region by putting the mountain peaks on recreational maps around the world.
Some concerns have been raised over the years about whether law enforcement would have flexibility in accessing protected areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Roswell wants to ban the sale of medical marijuana within city limits.
- A state appeals court will hear a suit on the Albuquerque minimum wage.
Charles Lakins, an attorney for the Malt Shop, argued in District Court on Thursday that the wage ordinance is invalid because it was presented to voters as one question, even though it had several components that voters should have been allowed to decide separately.
The city argued otherwise, noting that the Supreme Court had ordered the ordinance onto the ballot last year.
- I missed this last week, but the Constitution Party of New Mexico is suing the Secretary of State. The Constitution Party says Dianna Duran did not follow Elections Code when she told the party they were not eligible for ballot access.
- Some UNM Hospital workers protested what they see as low wages.
- Media News:
Started a new job with KUNM News as the web author for their public health reporting project. Great first day. Looking forward to 2014!
— Marisa Demarco (@papermarisa) December 12, 2013
- A bill to add trash bills to property taxes is not being well received in Rio Arriba County.
- Hundreds gathered to support a state police officer who was fired after firing on a minivan at a traffic stop.
- There may be a large amount of garnet found in southern New Mexico.
He’s planning an industrial-grade garnet mining operation there, which Albuquerque Business First reported this morning. The project will take some time to evolve. But once Burrell Western Resources eventually loads chunks of garnet from the mine to a processing facility and beyond, investment will be significant. Burrell expects the main mining operation to be online by 2015.
- A Navajo Codetalker passed away at the age of 90.
Filed under: Morning Word