NM Delegation Wants Plan On Syria, New Mexico Reins In Payday Loans

Apr 7, 2017

New Mexico Delegation Members Want Plan, Debate On SyriaThe Associated Press

Several Democratic members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are calling for President Donald Trump's administration and Congress to plan and debate a U.S. strategy on Syria.

The comments follow U.S. military strikes on a Syrian air base after a chemical weapons attack against civilians in Syria.

Sen. Martin Heinrich said the U.S. response demonstrated the United States won't just stand by when chemical weapons kill dozens of innocent people. Heinrich added that the administration needs a strategy "with an end game in sight."

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said the chemical weapon attack demanded a response but said Congress can't allow (quote) "an inexperienced and volatile President to act alone when the stakes are so high."

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said Congress should be presented a plan for review and debate.

New Mexico Reins In Payday LoansAssociated Press

New Mexico is reining in high-interest loans from the storefront lending industry under a bill signed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Signed on Thursday, the legislation effectively eliminates payday loans by definition and caps interest rates at 175 percent. Small loans that have terms less than 120 days are banned.

Consumer advocates have pushed unsuccessfully to cap interest rates at 36 percent, as a dozen of other states have. Industry lobbyists have voiced concerns about double-digit rates putting storefront lenders out of business.

Data from New Mexico regulation and licensing officials show interest rates on title loans currently range from an average of 238 percent to more than 450 percent. Installment loans can go much higher.

New Mexico To Issue New Chile License PlatesThe Associated Press

New Mexicans will still have the option to get license plates recognizing their affinity for red and green chile. It just won't be done through legislation.

Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed chile license plates to be issued for an extra fee that would have gone to support the state farm and ranch museum.

Instead, the Motor Vehicle Division announced Friday it will issue a license plate featuring chilies and a declaration that New Mexico is the "chile capital of the world." It will have yellow lettering on a black background.

It's being launched as a standard plate and will require no additional fees on registration.

Martinez says the new license plates will send a strong message about the significant role that chile plays in the state's culture.

Governor Martinez Acts On Wide Variety Of Bills – Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed at least sixty-five bills and vetoed more than a dozen more as a deadline approaches for acting on legislation.

The Republican governor on Thursday vetoed a measure aimed at curbing the use of solitary confinement in jails and prisons across New Mexico, while signing a wide variety of legislation from the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Approved bills are designed to spur investment in high-speed internet access, allow liquor sales when New Year's Eve falls on a Sunday and give local government new control over curfews and liquor taxes — to describe a just a few.

Martinez has until noon Friday to act on a $6.1 billion spending bill and related tax measures. She is promising to veto proposed tax increases.

BLM To Pay $70 Million For Oil And Gas Lease To By JuneThe Associated Press & The Roswell Daily News

A federal agency says it will give New Mexico its payment for an oil and gas lease sale now that it has responded to environmental concerns.

The Roswell Daily News reports a U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesperson said Thursday that the state can expects its nearly $70 million payment by June 1, as scheduled, or earlier.

BLM spokesperson Donna Hummel says the agency has finishing reviewing two extensive written protests by environmental groups based in Santa Fe and Arizona. She says that the agency reviews all materials that come to them during a protest and takes them seriously.

The auction was made in Roswell last September. Hummel had previously said there was no guarantee New Mexico would receive full payment by the set date while the agency finished reviewing the protests.

New Mexico Governor Draws Line Against Tax-And-Spend Bills Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is drawing a line in the sand against tax increases and state government spending with hours left to sign or veto provisions of a budget plan from the Legislature.

Martinez has until noon on Friday to consider a $6.1 billion spending bill that shores up funding for public schools and courts in the coming fiscal year.

The Republican governor on Thursday renewed criticism of companion legislation to bring in $350 million by increasing taxes on gasoline, hiking permit fees for trucks and reduce tax exemptions on nonprofit hospitals. She wants to reconvene the Democratic-led Legislature soon.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith says the governor's proposals to limit tax revenues and government spending could drive up unemployment and threaten the state's credit rating.

High Court Orders Review Of New Mexico's Guardianship SystemAssociated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has created a 16-member commission to study the state's guardianship system and recommend improvements.

The order announced Thursday follows a series of investigative articles published by the Albuquerque Journal that raised questions about the lack of oversight and transparency within the system.

The Supreme Court directed the commission to hold hearings to gather public input and recommend any necessary changes in court rules, state statutes, funding, administrative practices or other proposals to improve the system.

The commission members include state district judges, lawyers, lawmakers and advocates for the interests of the elderly, disabled and others involved in guardianship proceedings.

The commission's initial status report is due by Oct. 1.

New Mexico Outlaws Lunch-Debt Stigma At Public SchoolsAssociated Press

New Mexico has a new law that ensures children are served school meals even if their parents do not pay on time.

The law signed by Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday was designed to ensure that students whose parents owe money at the cafeteria are still fed adequately and do not face public embarrassment.

The legislation outlines debt collection procedures for unpaid breakfasts and lunches at public, private and religious schools that accept federal subsidies for student meals.

Martinez is signing scores of bills ahead of a deadline at noon on Friday to act on legislation. After the deadline, bills without a signature are effectively vetoed.

Parts Of New Mexico National Forest Temporarily Closed Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

Officials say about one square mile of a national forest will be temporarily closed to protect the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse.

The Alamagordo Daily News reports the Lincoln National Forest and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services issued the closure order for tiny segments along the Sacramento Ranger District that total less than one square mile (2.59 sq. kilometers). The closure will start April 15 and end Nov. 15.

Officials say the New Mexico jumping mouse is rare. The areas were designated as critical habitats for the animal. The LNF press release says the closure will also protect visitors from electric shock as the agency has set up temporary electric fences in the areas. The fences will protect the mice while still allowing livestock to access water near the mice habitat.

Los Alamos National Bank Warns Of ATM Data SkimmersSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Los Alamos National Bank employees have found scanning devices used to steal bank card information at two drive-thru ATMs in Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that bank officials say the two so-called "skimmer" devices have been removed from the ATMs. Police also removed cameras that had been installed above the machines to record customers entering their PIN numbers.

Los Alamos National Bank President and CEO John Gulas said Wednesday that he believes the scam began last week, though it's unclear when the skimmers were installed.

Police have identified a suspect based on surveillance video. Anyone with information about the skimmers is asked to call Santa Fe police.

Tribe Could Lose $28 Million Annually If Power Plant ClosedGallup Independent, Associated Press

Officials say the Navajo Nation could lose more than $28 million a year in revenue if the Navajo Generating Station is allowed to close.

The Gallup Independent reports that according to a Friday memo from the Navajo Nation Officer of the Controller, if the coal-fired power plant closes, the tribe could lose a projected revenue of $28.1 million.

Owners of the generating station have voted to close it, saying it is not currently profitable. It is unclear when the plant will begin to close. The power plant's lease with the tribe expires at the end of 2017 but could be extended.

Officials say the closure of the power plant would likely also lead to the closure of the tribe-owned Kayenta Mine, which is the sole source of coal for the Navajo Generating Station.