- LEGISLATURE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators raced against the clock Friday to provide final approval to major initiatives, from increased tax breaks for working families to the final touches on a $7.45 billion budget. The state House of Representative on Friday signed off on Senate amendments to a spending plan for the coming fiscal year that starts July 1. The bill increases general fund spending by nearly 5% to bolster public school education, environmental oversight and public salaries at state agencies and schools. The state Senate endorsed up to $73 million in annual tax breaks through an expansion of the state's working families tax credit and earned income tax credit.
- LEGISLATURE EDUCATION ROUNDUP
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers have advanced sweeping educational funding reforms during the legislative session. Some measures could change schools and early childhood education for decades to come, including a constitutional amendment that calls for increasing withdrawals from the $20 billion Land Grand Permanent fund. Others are short-term fixes aimed remote learning and the coronavirus, like pegging school bus budgets to pre-pandemic mileage. Some legislation does not have "education" in the title, but will affect how students learn in the future, including a law against hair discrimination and an overhaul of New Mexico's broadband expansion efforts.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Grocery store employees, home caregivers, farm workers, other essential workers and people over 60 are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine in New Mexico. The state Health Department on Friday announced it was moving to new phases in its distribution plan. The move comes as New Mexico and other states aim to meet a federal mandate of getting more people vaccinated by May. New Mexico has administered more than 1 million shots and remains ranked top in the U.S. for vaccine distribution. State officials also pointed to another key milestone: more than 60% of those already eligible have received at least their first shot.
- MARIJUANA-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico confronted its last last major hurdle in Senate deliberations, as legislators pushed to send the bill to a supportive governor. The state Senate scheduled a vote Friday on a House-approved bill that legalizes cannabis for anyone 21 and older, levies a new 12% tax on cannabis and emphasizes support for communities where the criminalization of pot led to aggressive policing. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports the legalization of marijuana in efforts to spur employment and economic recovery from the pandemic. She is expected to sign the legislation if given the chance.
- LEGISLATURE-PAID LEAVE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico legislature has passed a sweeping mandate for employee sick leave, sending the bill to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. If the bill passed early Friday is signed into law, it would require most employers to allow employees to accrue sick leave starting on their first day on the job. It also mandates that employers provide 80 more hours of sick leave per employee during public health emergencies. The law would not apply to the current coronavirus pandemic. The Lujan Grisham administration is signaling support for the bill after it was amended to delay the requirements until July of 2022.
- MARIJUANA-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislation to legalize cannabis in New Mexico is scheduled for a decisive Senate floor vote under a framework that emphasizes government oversight of pricing and supplies along with social services for communities where the criminalization of pot has led to aggressive policing. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth scheduled a vote on a bill Friday to legalize cannabis consumption and sales to people 21 and over. Critics say the proposed regulatory framework may foster a powerful, government-protected monopoly. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the pot industry can help the state economy emerge from the pandemic slump. Legislators have discarded a Republican-sponsored proposal that stressed low taxes.
- TWO KILLED-TEEN ARRESTED
VILLANUEVA, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in northern New Mexico say a 14-year-old Las Vegas boy has been arrested in the killings of two men at a home in the small community of Villanueva. The New Mexico State Police said the boy was arrested March 8 on charges of first-degree murder and other crimes in the Feb. 14 killings of 59-year-old Guadalupe Gutierrez and 32-year-old Kevin Anthony Gutierrez. A State Police statement did not provide a suspected motive for the killings but said the boy had run away from home and wanted to stay with one of the men. The Associated Press generally does not report the names of juvenile crime suspects and defendants.
PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans overseeing their party's efforts to elect senators and governors trekked to the Arizona-Mexico border and laid blame for a surge in migrants at the feet of President Joe Biden. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Florida Sen. Rick Scott visited Douglas, Arizona, on Friday as the GOP looks to weaponize the influx of migrants against Democrats. Ducey said, "Joe Biden has broken our border" and demanded that the Democratic president make clear that U.S. borders are not open. Biden said in an ABC News interview this week that his message to migrants was "don't leave your town or city or community."