Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Mar 15, 2019

Unchained Democrats tackle climate change, shun marijuanaSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators are hammering out agreements to increase annual spending on public school education by a half-billion dollars after consummating New Mexico's version of a "Green New Deal" that aims for carbon-free electricity production within a generation.The consequences of sweeping Democratic midterm election victories in New Mexico were coming into focus in the final full day of the state's annual legislative session on Friday.Two successive annual budget surpluses in excess of $1 billion are allowing the Legislature to plot a major economic stimulus package and respond to a judge's order to boost resources to public education.As Democrats push through the state's first minimum wage increase in a decade, their own ideological divides have sidelined efforts to legalize recreational marijuana and remove a dormant criminal ban on abortion.


New Mexico Legislature backs same-day voter registrationSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill that would allow same-day voter registration in New Mexico has been passed by the Legislature and is on its way to the governor.The House and Senate on Thursday endorsed a final version of the bill that also expands automated registration services to new state agencies.Democratic New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver advocated for the changes as a way to increase voter participation and clean up voter registration rolls.Under current state law, voter registration closes 28 days before Election Day. Seventeen other states and the District of Columbia offer same-day registration.Critics of the same-day registration fear it will eliminate safeguards against mistakes and fraud. Proponents say it works in other states and allows registration when public interest in elections is strongest.


New gun control bill advances to governor in New MexicoSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Legislature has passed a gun control bill aimed at ensuring that people under protective orders for domestic violence relinquish their firearms.A 38-31 vote of the House on Thursday sent the measure to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for likely approval.Federal law already prohibits gun possession and purchases for people subject to a protective order in some instances and bans ownership for convicted abusers.The bill passed by legislators was designed to create clear procedures for people to give up their weapons or have them taken away.Repeated revisions to the bill by lawmakers added a required "credible threat" finding by a court before a gun must be surrendered.A similar initiative was vetoed in 2017 by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.


The Latest: Compromise reached on minimum wage increaseSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — House and Senate lawmakers have reached a compromise that would raise New Mexico's minimum hourly wage gradually from $7.50 to $12 at the start of 2023.A conference committee of three lawmakers from each chamber brokered the agreement Thursday to break a legislative stalemate.The compromise proposal moves to the House and Senate for votes. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on efforts to reach a $12 minimum wage, and House Democrats led by Rep. Miguel Garcia of Albuquerque also sought additional automatic future increases to offset inflation.The compromise agreement would not tie future increases to an inflation index. The minimum hourly wage would rise to $9 in 2020, $10.50 in 2021, and $11.50 in 2022 before settling at $12 in 2023. Tipped worker minimum salaries would gradually rise to $3 an hour, and a student minimum wage of $8.50 would take effect in 2020 without adjustments.


New Mexico state Senate upholds dormant ban on abortionSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico state Senate has voted to uphold the state's dormant criminal ban on abortion.The Democrat-led Senate voted 24-18 Thursday in opposition to eliminating the state prohibition on abortion. Advocates for abortion rights sought to remove the ban in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns a 1973 decision that made the procedure legal nationwide.New Mexico is one of nine states that retain abortion bans that are not enforced because of the Supreme Court decision.Abortion-rights advocates seized on Democratic gains in midterm elections to push to overturn the ban in a heavily Hispanic state with strong currents of Roman Catholicism. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supported the failed bill.


The Latest: Attorney: Compound suspects to plead not guiltyALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys say five former residents of a New Mexico compound will plead not guilty to charges that include conspiring to support planned attacks on federal law enforcement and government employees that never occurred.In an email Thursday, Amy Sirignano also restated she and other defense attorneys were awaiting more information on charges in a superseding indictment before providing further comment.The suspects were arrested in August amid the discovery of 11 hungry children found living in filth at the compound near Amalia, and the remains of one of the suspect's sons who suffered from seizures and whose mother reported him missing in Georgia.All of the suspects, except the boy's father, have been charged with kidnapping.An arraignment is scheduled for next Thursday.


New Mexico creates early childhood education agencySANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will create a new state agency to oversee early childhood education programs under a bill signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.The first-term Democratic governor signed the bill Thursday as she attempts to make good on campaign pledges to pursue universal access to preschool and respond to evidence that early schooling has a lifelong impact.The legislation from Democratic Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque and Rep. Linda Trujillo of Santa Fe would put a new Cabinet secretary in charge of everything from home-visit care for infants to early preschool.Padilla says the Early Childhood Education and Care Department in the long run should reduce poverty and crime as better-educated children mature.The Legislature has balked at dedicating more money to early education from a multibillion-dollar state trust.


New Mexico bill to create state-run pot shops appears deadSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal that would make New Mexico the first U.S. state to set up government-operated marijuana stores appears dead in the current legislative session.Sen. John Sapien, a Bernalillo Democrat, said Thursday lawmakers still have questions about the measure with only hours left before the session ends.The bill passed by the state House would legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico.However, it has stalled in the Senate Finance Committee and it doesn't appear that Sen. John Arthur Smith, chair of the panel, planned to give it a hearing.Sapien says some private companies and medical marijuana providers have concerns over how the bill is written.The idea for state-run pot shops came from a trio of GOP state senators who broke with party orthodoxy to embrace legal marijuana.