Governor To Call Special Legislative Session, Marijuana Producer Challenges New Mexico

Aug 19, 2016

New Mexico Governor To Call Special Legislative SessionAssociated Press

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez says she will call a special legislative session to address a budget crunch stemming from dwindling revenues.

Martinez said Thursday that her staff is talking with leaders in the House and Senate in hopes that all parties can be as prepared as possible so the session will be brief.

While the exact timing is uncertain, Martinez said it will likely happen in September.

Legislative analysts are expected to release an updated revenue forecast next week. They have said the state general fund was short by an estimated $150 million for the budget year that ended in June and faces potentially greater shortfalls this year.

Martinez earlier this month directed most major state agencies to institute spending cuts in response to a sharp downturn in tax receipts and other revenue tied to weak oil and gas prices.

Marijuana Producer Challenges New Mexico Limits On PlantsThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is being sued by a medical marijuana producer and a mother who uses oil derived from cannabis to control her infant daughter's seizures.

The lawsuit filed this week challenges the state's limit on the number of plants a licensed producer may grow. The complaint alleges the limit is keeping some patients from getting what they need.

Duke Rodriguez is head of New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health Inc., the producer that's suing. He says state regulations should reflect patient needs and be supported by a credible assessment of supply and demand.

Patients enrolled in New Mexico's program have increased rapidly from about 14,000 in 2015 to more than 26,000 as of this summer.

The state last year raised the plant limit from 150 to 450.

Crucial Utah Vote On Facebook Tax-Break Plan PostponedThe Associated Press

A crucial vote on a Utah plan to lure a Facebook data center with up to $240 million in tax breaks will be postponed at least a week.

Several cities and school districts were set to meet Monday to vote on whether to join forces to offer the tax incentives, but documents releasedFriday show the meeting has been canceled.

It's tentatively rescheduled for the following week.

The Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan is competing with Los Lunas, New Mexico to attract the facility. Energy regulators in both states have signed off on the plan.

Utah leaders and residents have been divided on the tax breaks. Critics say the incentives are too generous for a facility would create few jobs, but supporters argue it would still generate revenue and carry Facebook cache.

New Mexico Immigrant Teens Take US Citizenship OathThe Associated Press

Around three dozen teens from Asia and Latin America have received citizenship certificates at a special ceremony in New Mexico.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday presented the certificates in Rio Rancho, New Mexico for minors who recently earned citizenship through their parents.

The teen, from ages 14 to 18, earned citizenship after they were adopted or after a parent became a naturalized citizenship. Children as young as 5-years-old also earned citizenship Friday but their certificates were mailed to their parents' homes.

Immigration officials administered an Oath of Allegiance in front of family.

The agency says the children are originally from places such as Iraq, China, Mexico, and Cuba.

Temple Grandin To Spend 3 Days With NMSU Students, FacultyThe Associated Press

Renowned livestock expert and author Temple Grandin, whose life became an award-winning movie, will be at New Mexico State University this month to teach students and faculty about animal science and autism.

Grandin is a professor of livestock behavior and welfare at Colorado State University and will be at NMSU in Las Cruces from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26.

She will lecture on subjects such as animal science and the importance of human- animal bond to people with autism. Grandin will also be signing copies of her book.

Grandin has been hailed for her outreach for autism and her innovations in the handling of livestock.

An HBO movie about her life won numerous awards.

NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is sponsoring the visit.

New Mexico State Police Officer Arrested On Third DWIThe Associated Press 

Albuquerque police say a state officer has been picked up on his third drunk driving charge.

New Mexico State Police have confirmed that 32-year-old officer Morgan Ortiz is on paid administrative leave during the criminal case and an internal affairs investigation.

Ortiz was arrested last Friday after officers say he crashed into a parked car at the MATS Detox Program. According to police reports, he was too drunk to be arrested and was instead taken to a hospital.

Ortiz graduated from the police academy in December 2015. State Police Chief Pete Kassetas says Ortiz had two DWI convictions from before his 21st birthday but was put through psychological and medical tests before he was hired.

Kassetas called the incident "unfortunate" and says Ortiz was trying to get treatment at the detox center.

Suspect In New Mexico Officer's Death To Appear In CourtThe Associated

The Ohio fugitive accused of fatally shooting a New Mexico police officer is scheduled made his first appearance in federal court on Friday.

Jesse Hanes of Columbus was arraigned on federal carjacking and firearms crimes. The 38-year-old is accused of gunning down Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez during a traffic stop last week.

He also faces a first-degree murder charge in state court.

Chavez was shot on August 12 in Hatch and died at an El Paso, Texas, hospital.

Hanes, who was hospitalized for a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was dressed in red scrubs and was in a wheelchair in court on Friday.

Hanes, along with another man who authorities say was in a vehicle when Hanes shot Chavez, are wanted in the July death of a man outside Chillicothe.

Judge Backs Outside Supervision Of New Mexico Food AidAssociated Press

An attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says a federal judge is in agreement that a court-appointed supervisor is needed to help ensure federally funded benefits are administered properly by the New Mexico Human Services Department.

Attorney Sovereign Hager says U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales indicated Thursday he will move forward with the recommendation for a "special master" to help oversee the administration of food aid and Medicaid benefits by the state agency. The Human Services Department previously agreed to that component of a July recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza.

Gonzales is still weighing a recommendation that Human Services Sec. Brent Earnest be held in contempt over failures by his agency to comply on time with court orders concerning benefits.

Lyft Resumes Ride-Booking Service In New MexicoAssociated Press

Governor Susana Martinez is welcoming the ride-booking company Lyft back to New Mexico.

Regulatory uncertainty had forced the company to pull the plug on its New Mexico operations in 2015, but legislation signed by the governor earlier this year cleared the way for Lyft and other ride-booking companies, like Uber, to offer services.

The governor stopped in Albuquerque on Thursday to meet with Lyft officials.

She says ride booking provides New Mexicans with an easy way to hail rides, keeps drunken drivers off the road and brings New Mexico's transportation services into the 21st century.

Martinez also says the industry will help tourism by providing more access to the state for visitors.

Lyft is operating in Albuquerque, but company officials will be evaluating opportunities for expansion to other parts of the state.

Top Drug Official To Discuss Opiates In New MexicoAssociated Press

The White House's top drug control official is set to visit New Mexico on Thursday for a forum on addressing the opiate crisis.

Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, is expected to discuss programs aimed at preventing and treating prescription drug addictions during a forum in Albuquerque at 6 p.m.

His visit to New Mexico — a state that most recent statistics show has the nation's second highest overdose death rate — comes a day after the Obama administration announced it will spend $17 million to help law enforcement agencies deal with the rise in heroin and opioid addiction.

The administration is also seeking $1.1 billion from Congress in funding that would help states expand access to treatment. Under the bill, about $8 million could be appropriated to New Mexico.

New Mexico Immigrant Children To Take US Citizenship OathAssociated Press

Around three dozen children from Asia and Latin America are scheduled to receive citizenship certificates at a special ceremony in New Mexico.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is scheduled Friday to present the certificates in Rio Rancho, New Mexico for minors who recently have earned citizenship through their parents.

The children, from ages 5 to 16, earned citizenship after they were adopted or after a parent became a naturalized citizenship.

Officials will administer an Oath of Allegiance.

The agency says the children are originally from places like Iraq, China, Mexico, and Cuba.

Justice Ginsburg Takes Off-Season Breather In New MexicoAssociated Press

This week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is spending time far from Washington in northern New Mexico, where she will address a gathering of the state bar association on Friday.

The high court is out of session but it continues to be thrust into the presidential campaign spotlight by the refusal of Senate Republicans to hold confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee to the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.

Local attorneys and their guests flocked to a casino resort north of Santa Fe to hear from Ginsburg, an anchor on the liberal wing of the current eight-member court and counterweight to conservative Chief Justice John Roberts.

New Mexico Lawyer Appointed DA In 12th Judicial DistrictAssociated Press

Attorney John Sugg has been appointed by Governor Susana Martinez to serve as district attorney for the judicial district that covers Otero and Lincoln counties in southern New Mexico.

The governor's office announced the appointment Thursday. Sugg fills the vacancy created by the resignation of David Ceballes.

Sugg most recently practiced law privately, focusing on domestic relations, civil litigation and criminal defense.

He previously served as deputy district attorney in the 12th Judicial District and worked as an assistant DA in the 2nd district from 2007 to 2013.

In 2014, he was recognized as the prosecutor of the year by the Administrative Office of the District Attorneys.

Sugg received his bachelor's and law degree from the University of New Mexico, where he graduated with honors.