Governor Says Lobbyist Bill Didn't Go Far Enough, State Adopts Annual Sales Tax Break

Mar 3, 2018

Governor Says Lobbyist Bill Didn't Go Far EnoughAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed legislation that was initially aimed at bolstering campaign finance reporting requirements for lobbyists when it came to expenses under $100.

In rejecting the legislation Friday, she said in a message to lawmakers that categories of spending spelled out in the bill were too vague and did little to provide more information to the public.

She voiced concerns about lobbyists not being required to disclose whom they are spending the money on.

The two-term Republican governor also took a swipe at lawmakers, saying they should provide full disclosure of all benefits received from lobbyists as well as make their email messages subject to the state public records law.

Martinez also has been criticized by Democrats over the years as part of the transparency debate.

New Mexico Adopts Annual Sales Tax Break At Small Businesses Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a bill that allows tax-free purchase at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Martinez on Friday approved a deduction that allows businesses with 10 employees or fewer to leave sales taxes off many items one day a year. The bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Doreen Gallegos of Las Cruces aims to encourage shopping at small businesses.

In a written message, Martinez lamented that the Legislature did not act on her recommendations to overhaul the state's gross receipts tax on sales and business services.

Also Friday, the governor signed legislation to combat the spread of pecan weevils that threaten a major New Mexico crop and to deter the theft of pecans by licensing pecan buyers in order to better document and track sales.

Navajo President Says He'll OK Emergency Head Start Funding Associated Press

Navajo President Russell Begaye says he'll approve $6.3 million in emergency funding for the tribe's Head Start program.

His decision comes after a federal judge denied the tribe's request to block a funding cut from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The judge said the tribe didn't show it would suffer irreparable harm.

Begaye said Friday the tribe needs consistency in employment at Head Start centers so parents can access the program.

The Health and Human Services Department reduced the tribe's funding this year by 32 percent to $16 million because of chronic under-enrollment.

The Navajo Nation sued, alleging it was denied an opportunity to appeal the cut.

Tribal lawmakers passed a bill last month to divert money from the tribe's rainy day fund to Head Start.

Readers Reevaluate Author Amid Sex Misconduct Allegations

Readers of Sherman Alexie's books are re-evaluating what place he has on their bookshelves after the prominent author became the subject of anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct.

Alexie acknowledged this week that he has harmed others but denies physically or verbally threatening anyone or the careers of fellow Native American writers.

Alexie has been a hero of indigenous literature and the focus of simmering misgivings that he's whitewashed Native American life.

He often draws from childhood experiences, writes openly about navigating life on and off a reservation, and speaks bluntly on social issues.

Tristan Chasing Hawk has relied on Alexie's work in speech and debate competitions. But the 21-year-old says he will end the practice due to the accusations.

Associated Press writers Hillel Italie in New York and Russell Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico, contributed to this story

Trump Ally Running For Congress: College Wants To Fire Me Associated Press

A former Trump administration appointee running for Congress in a closely watched New Mexico race says his university is trying to fire him for seeking the seat.

Gavin Clarkson, a business law professor at New Mexico State University, said this week the school told him that his leave of absence had been revoked and his employment would be terminated if he didn't return to work.

The Republican says he requested a leave of absence until January 2020 after he was appointed to a Bureau of Indian Affairs position.

But Clarkson resigned from the agency last year following a harsh inspector general report into the loan program he directed. Clarkson says he stepped down to run for Congress in southern New Mexico.

NMSU spokeswoman Minerva Baumann says the university doesn't comment on personnel matters.

US Agency: Study Of Cultural Sites Is Ongoing Associated Press

Federal land managers say they are working on an ongoing analysis of nearly 5,500 cultural sites in a portion of northwestern New Mexico that had been slated for oil and gas leasing.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced late Thursday that he directed the Bureau of Land Management to defer a scheduled lease sale that included parcels near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park so the analysis could be completed.

Zinke said he made the decision after hearing from American Indian tribal leaders, members of New Mexico's congressional delegation, historic preservation experts and others.

He says the area deserves more study.

Agency officials received more than 450 protests against the upcoming sale.

Environmentalists welcomed Zinke's decision, saying more safeguards are needed before further development is considered.

Police: 2 Teens Arrested In Fatal New Mexico Shooting Associated Press

Two teens have been arrested in connection with a deadly shooting at a park in southwest Albuquerque.

Officer Simon Drobik said Friday the two 15-year-olds were booked into the juvenile detention center on an open count of murder in the death of 25-year-old Larry Desantiago.

Police responded to the shooting at Tower Park just before 5 p.m. Thursday and found Desantiago shot in the chest. He was taken to a hospital where he later died.

The two suspects were taken into custody and questioned after they tried to flee from the scene. Detectives also found a gun in the area.

Police have not released any details about what led to the shooting.

Sheriff's Office Creates Team To Address Safety Issues Associated Press

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A sheriff's office in southeastern New Mexico is hiring more deputies to create a team to target traffic safety issues on a major highway and to work animal cruelty cases.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Eddy County Sheriff's Office is forming a special team of five deputies and a sergeant to address issues like wrecks on U.S. Highway 285.

A section of the major thoroughfare southeast of Carlsbad has been the site of more than five deaths since October.

Sheriff Mark Cage says the highways deaths concerned residents who then requested more deputies.

County commissioners last month approved the measure, allowing the sheriff's office to fill positions on the special team.