NM County Courthouses / Flickr

69 Dismissals So Far From Speedup Of Bernalillo County Cases - The Associated Press and KOAT-TV

The Albuquerque area's top prosecutor says dozens of criminal cases have been dismissed at least temporarily since new state-mandated deadlines kicked in about a month ago.

According to KOAT-TV, the 69 dismissed cases cited by Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg include ones against people charged with sex crimes involving children.

my_southborough via Creative Commons

New Mexico Solitary Confinement Bill To Go Before Committee - The Associated Press

A New Mexico House panel is expected to revisit a solitary confinement reform proposal a week after a heated exchange sparked by a Democratic member ended a meeting.

The House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee is set Tuesday to discuss a measure that would ban the use of solitary confinement on juveniles and inmates suffering from mental illness.

New Mexico Senate Approves Bill To Eradicate BullyingThe Associated Press

Allencrack dövmeci / Wikimedia Commons

Senate Passes Bill To Create State Board For Tattoo Artists - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Legislation that would create a state board to regulate New Mexico tattoo and piercing artists has received overwhelming approval from the Senate.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Senate voted Friday 39-1 in favor of the bill that proposes a five-member Board of Body Art Practitioners.

killbox via flickr

Ice, Snow Cover Some New Mexico Roads After StormsThe Associated Press 

Officials were warning motorists about difficult driving conditions Saturday morning along some New Mexico roadways as a result of stormy winter weather.

Late Friday, Albuquerque police cautioned people about doing any driving because of treacherous conditions that caused numerous traffic accidents.

Snow Forecast For New MexicoNational Weather Service

A parade of disturbances will continue to impact New Mexico with areas of accumulating snow through the first half of the coming week.  

Snow will diminish by the middle of today across southern and eastern areas but it should continue and actually re-intensify across central and northwest area this afternoon and tonight.

Additional heavy and wet snow accumulation through Sunday will be measured in feet across the northern mountains where damage to some structures will be possible.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

NM House Passes Revamped Right-To-Work BillThe Associated Press

The GOP-controlled New Mexico House of Representatives has approved a contentious right-to-work bill that tacks on an increase in the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8 an hour.

The Republican-sponsored bill prohibits requiring workers to join a union or to pay dues as a condition of employment and applies to both public and private sectors.

The House voted 37-30 Wednesday to move the bill along to the Senate, where it faces resistance.

Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr / Creative Commons

Four Corners Sees Spike In Marijuana SeizuresThe Associated Press and Daily Times

New statistics show that a Four Corners regional narcotics taskforce has seized around six times as much marijuana in 2014 than the previous year.

The Daily Times reports that the Region II Narcotics Taskforce seized 245 pounds of marijuana, which has an approximate street value nearly $200,000.

Craig Wilkinson via Flickr / Creative Commons License

New Mexico Joins Other States In Grappling With Drones - The Associated Press

Lawmakers in New Mexico are trying to grapple with new drone technology and how much freedom law enforcement agencies should have in using them.

And even New Mexico sheriffs' offices don't know how to respond.

A New Mexico legislative panel is expected soon to debate a measure that would limit the use of drones by law enforcement agencies without a warrant.

Photo by Darkpatator courtesy of Creative Commons

Water Pipeline To Be Shut Down Temporarily In SE Albuquerque - The Associated Press

Albuquerque's major water provider is temporarily shutting down a transmission pipeline in a southeastern area of the city.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority will take the pipeline out of service starting at 6 p.m. Sunday in order to replace a large-diameter valve.

Officials say the project is expected to last until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Jan Marlyn Reesman via Flickr

New Mexico House Committee Votes In Favor Of Abortion Bills – The Associated Press

A New Mexico legislative committee has voted along party lines on a second abortion-related bill, this one requiring minors to notify parents within 48 hours before ending a pregnancy.

The House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee voted 4-3 Friday, with Republicans in the majority. More than an hour earlier in an identical vote after a five-hour hearing, the panel approved a bill banning late-term abortions.

credit: Nic McPhee / Creative Commons

NM Budget Bill To Include Pay Hike For New Teachers, PoliceThe Associated Press

New teachers and state police officers can expect pay raises in the next fiscal year as New Mexico lawmakers get closer to hammering out a spending plan in the face of declining revenues.

Most department budgets remain largely flat under the House Appropriations and Finance Committee scenarios that will become part of a budget bill members are scheduled to vote on Friday.

www.nmlegis.gov / Creative Commons

NM Senate Democrats Say Their Bills Will Create 73,000 Jobs - The Associated Press

Senate Democrats have pitched a lofty jobs bills package that promises 73,000 new positions in New Mexico in the next four to five years.

They say the more than 40 bills they have introduced this session address the need for increased employment and economic activity in the state.

Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla says Democratic leadership is also united in stopping right-to-work legislation supported by the Republican-controlled House.

gvgoebel via Flickr

Bill Would Reward School, Local Government WhistleblowersThe Associated Press

Whistleblowers who report public school and local government fraud would be rewarded under a measure approved by a New Mexico Senate committee.

The bill calls for expanding the Fraud Against Taxpayer Act to include schools and local governments. State agencies, departments, boards and commissions are already covered.

Albuquerque Police Sued Over Encrypted CDs In ShootingThe Associated Press

An Albuquerque law firm is suing the Albuquerque Police Department over what it say is encrypted records from a police shooting probe.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Kennedy Kennedy & Ives Law Practice recently filed the lawsuit in connection with records related to the shooting death of Armand Martin. Authorities say the 50-year-old Air Force veteran was shot by police during a standoff in May.

New Mexico PBS

UPDATE 6p - New Mexico Senate Approves Skandera As Education Secretary - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has voted to confirm Hanna Skandera as education secretary four years after she took the job.

The Senate approved her nomination 22-19 Monday.

Gov. Susana Martinez's nomination of Skandera in 2011 drew criticism because of her having never been a teacher or administrator.

wplynn via flickr.com

New Mexico Senate OKs Bill To Ban Coyote-Killing Contests – The Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has approved a measure that would ban coyote-killing contests.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque and Democrat Rep. Jeff Steinborn was approved on a 27-13 vote Friday. It now heads to the House for consideration.

Moores says the bill would end coyote-killing contests without restricting the ability of farmers and ranchers to protect their livestock.

New Mexico Dept of Taxation and Revenue

New Mexico House Votes To Repeal Immigrant Driver's LicensesThe Associated Press

The New Mexico House of Representatives has passed a bill that ends the state's practice of issuing driver's licenses to people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The bill passed after three hours of debate by a vote of 39-29, with two Democrats siding with the Republicans in the majority.

The bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled Senate for a vote.  Democrats have vowed to fight the legislation.

Asaavedra32 / Wikimedia Commons

Homeless Allowed To Stay On Vacant Lot Near Former Tent SiteThe Associated Press

Homeless people evicted from an encampment on city-owned property in downtown Albuquerque are being allowed to move to a nearby vacant lot owned by a neighborhood association.

Police and city officials earlier this week issued eviction notices giving people staying in the so-called "Tent City" to leave by Thursday.

The Barelas Neighborhood Association has given the campers permission to stay on piece of property that the association owns a few blocks away.

National Park Service

Vandalism Found In Petroglyph National MonumentThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Graffiti and other vandalism have been found in a section of the Petroglyph National Monument in west Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that monument Superintendent Dennis Vásquez was exploring a section of the monument last week when he found debris, evidence of campfires, motorcycle tracks and graffiti.

pixnpics via Flickr, cropped / Creative Commons License

Bill Would Protect Pregnant Workers In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A New Mexico lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for working pregnant women.

Representative Terry McMillan of Las Cruces says the state can do a better job protecting pregnant women in the workplace. He says his bill would bring the state in line with federal standards.

Reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers would include more flexibility of schedules as well as shorter hours or leave time.

Tall Chris via Flickr

New Mexico Website Drops Easy Scanning Feature On LobbyistsThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico's online system for tracking lobbyists' spending on legislators is not as transparent as it used to be.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a recent change in the website operated by the Secretary of State's Office no longer makes it easy to scan reports in which lobbyists must report expenditures larger than $500 within 48 hours.

lu_lu via flickr / Creative Commons License

Santa Fe Schools To Enforce Vaccination Mandate For MeaslesThe Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe public school students without up-to-date measles vaccinations or valid waivers for medical or religious reasons won't be able to attend classes starting Feb. 17.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the district's stricter enforcement of state requirements for student vaccinations comes at a time when measles has been reported recently in other states.

The Norlo / Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico House Panel Eyes E-Cigarette Sales Ban To MinorsThe Associated Press

A New Mexico House panel is set to debate a bill that would outlaw e-cigarette sales to minors.

The House Health Committee is scheduled Thursday to take up a proposal that would add electronic cigarettes to the state's Tobacco Products Act.

Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, is sponsoring the bill.

Battery-powered e-cigarettes heat a liquid solution, usually containing nicotine, to create vapor that users inhale.

City of Santa Fe / Creative Commons

Santa Fe Mayor Wants Gender-Neutral Bathrooms, Film PushThe Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales wants his city to have gender-neutral bathrooms and to launch a new push to attract film productions.

Gonzales made the proposals in his first State of the City address yesterday. The address was titled "One Santa Fe, One City, One Family."

www.nmlegis.gov / Creative Commons

New Mexico Lawmakers Vote To Table Minimum Wage Increase - The Associated Press

A New Mexico panel of lawmakers voted along party lines to table two bills that called for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.50.

One of the bills spread the increase over three years and provided for an annual cost-of-living increase.

The vote on both bills was 4-3, with Republicans in the majority.

Courtesy Two Eagles crew

Pilots In Helium-Filled Balloon Land Safely In Mexico - Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Two pilots in a helium-filled balloon landed safely off the coast of Mexico on Saturday after a nearly 7,000-mile long trip across the Pacific Ocean.

The pilots landed off Baja California about 300 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, greeted by a team of balloon enthusiasts who assisted with the landing. The pilots came in low and dropped thick trailing ropes into the ocean to help slow the balloon before setting down in a controlled water landing.

squeaky2569 via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Difficult Conditions Reported On Some New Mexico Highways – Associated Press

Forecasters predict heavy snow in the mountains and a mix of rain and snow in lower elevations as a winter storm moves across northern and central New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation reported difficult driving conditions Friday morning on some highways, including Interstate 25 between Rowe and Watrous. That stretch of I-25 is wet, snow-packed and icy in spots, and crews are out plowing, salting and cindering.

Bob Skahmahmahl / Creative Commons

New Mexico Land Commissioner Puts The Brakes On SunZia – Associated Press

New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has put the brakes on a $2 billion transmission project that would carry electricity generated by renewable resources in New Mexico and Arizona to markets across the West.

Dunn announced late Wednesday that he was issuing a 60-day suspension after meeting with the developers. He says that will give his office time to review the project before any further development affects state trust lands.

Ajnagraphy via compfight / Creative Commons License

New Head Of New Mexico Child Welfare Agency Lists Priorities – Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers want the new head of the state's child welfare agency to ensure federal dollars for services are used by the state rather than be returned.

Members of a Senate panel challenged Monique Jacobson, the incoming secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department, during a meeting Tuesday.

bjmccray via Flickr

Lawmakers Concerned About New Mexico's Unbalanced Books – The Associated Press

New Mexico's top finance officials say the state's checkbook is out of balance to the tune of $100 million.

Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Monday. He says that amount is his agency's best guess at the discrepancy between the state's general cash ledger and what it actually has in the bank.