Wednesday News Roundup: Marijuana Changes Pushed In Santa Fe, Albuquerque

May 28, 2014

Marijuana Changes Pushed In Santa Fe, Albuquerque The Associated Press

Two groups have started petition drives aimed at putting measures that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession in New Mexico's two largest cities before voters.

The Drug Policy Alliance and Progress Now New Mexico say they have filed petitions with the city clerks in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and plan to collect the required signatures to have the measures considered.

Under the proposed ballot measures, a person caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would face a $25 fine under city code rather than a criminal charge and potential jail time.

The groups say reducing the penalties for low-level marijuana offenders offers a way to save communities and the state money. They say police officers would also have more time to focus on more serious offenses.

Texas Storage Takes Precautions With NM Nuclear Waste – The Associated Press

Dozens of containers of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory are being packed as a precaution into concrete casks at a temporary storage facility in West Texas.

The waste was shipped to Andrews, Texas, due to the closure of the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico. The repository has been closed since February because of a radiation release.

Investigators have focused on a container from Los Alamos as the possible cause of the release.

Workers at the Texas facility are taking thermal readings of the waste containers before loading them into the concrete casks. The casks are then filled with gravel.

Equipment inside the casks monitors the internal temperature on a daily basis. Cameras are also monitoring the area where the waste is being stored.

Revenue Report: New Mexico Lags In Fiscal Recovery The Associated Press

A national report says New Mexico's tax collections haven't fully rebounded from the recession and only three other states have experienced a slower revenue recovery.

According to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts, New Mexico's tax revenue in the fourth quarter of 2013 was nearly 18 percent below the state's inflation-adjusted revenue peak of $1.5 billion in the final quarter of 2006.

Tax collections in 26 states remain below pre-recession peaks, but the report says only Alaska, Wyoming and Florida have rebounded less than New Mexico.

Lower natural gas prices have hurt New Mexico's energy revenue collections. The report also points to federal cutbacks and job losses as a factor in the state's lagging revenue recovery.

New Mexico Prison Guard From 1980 Riot Honored The Associated Press

A New Mexico guard who escaped one of the nation's deadliest prison riots has received a posthumous honor.

The state's Department of Corrections presented the "Medal of Honor" to the daughter of Herman Gallegos last week after officials finally located his family.

Officials say Gallegos slipped out of New Mexico's Old Main during the deadly February 1980 riot by disguising himself as an inmate.

During the riot, inmates killed 33 fellow prisoners in a violent clash that included beheadings, amputations and burned bodies. More than 100 other inmates and guards were hurt in the 36-hour riot fueled by overcrowded conditions.

The family of Gallegos couldn't be located for a 2013 ceremony honoring former guards but was found later after the daughter contacted corrections officials.

Gallegos died in 2012.

NM Highlands Signs Agreement With Russian School The Associated Press

New Mexico Highlands University has signed an agreement with a Russian university for a dual master's degree in a growing chemistry field.

The school recently announced it has signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Research University of Information Technologies in St. Petersburg, Russia. The agreement is aimed at developing educational research cooperation between the two universities in the field of photonics.

Photonics considers the changes in light, such as transmission and refraction, when photonic materials are applied.

Under the agreement, students from Highlands and University ITMO will complete one full semester of study and research at the partner university as part of the 120-hour graduate program in chemistry.

All the courses will be taught in English.