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Thursday News Roundup: Governor Signs Lottery Scholarship Program Fix


Governor Signs College Scholarship Program Fix - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a measure into law to shore up the finances of a college scholarship program that relies on lottery revenue.

The governor signed the bill Wednesday, which was the deadline for acting on measures passed by the Legislature.

The scholarship program will receive liquor tax money for two years starting in 2015. Until that happens, a newly enacted state budget provides extra money to keep the program solvent.

Scholarships reductions have been looming because lottery proceeds aren't keeping pace with college tuition increases.

Also signed by the governor were measures to prevent high school graduation requirements from changing for students once they enter the 9th grade. The new law also permits marching band, athletics and other classes to meet physical education requirements for high school students.

Governor Vetoes Bill Revamping Water Board - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed proposals that would have chipped away at executive branch powers over water funding and the horse racing regulation.

The governor on Wednesday rejected a measure passed by the Legislature that would have overhauled the membership of the Water Trust Board, which recommends funding for some water projects.

The proposal would have stripped the governor of her power to appoint public members of the board and assigned that responsibility to the Legislature.

The governor objected that the measure would have prevented the board from funding some previously approved projects.

Martinez also vetoed a measure that would have taken away power of the governor-appointed State Racing Commission to decide penalties for some horse racing violations, such as administering illegal drugs to horses.

Health Officials Track Asthma Cases In NM - The Associated Press

Health officials say adults and children with asthma in southeastern New Mexico are more likely to visit the emergency room or be hospitalized than asthma patients in other parts of the state.

The statistics are included in a report released this week by the New Mexico Department of Health.

The report shows the rate of asthma emergency department visits in the southeast region was 62.7 per 10,000 from 2010 to 2012.

The northwest region had the next highest rate at 41.1 per 10,000.

The report also shows adults and children from the southeast region are no more likely to have asthma than people elsewhere in New Mexico.

Officials say health surveys show the region also has the highest prevalence of obesity and smoking, which can make asthma difficult to control.

University of New Mexico Considers Tuition Option - KRQE-TV

University of New Mexico officials are discussing an idea for providing students of the Albuquerque school with a new tuition option.

KRQE-TV reports that the idea involves giving students the option of accepting a 10 percent tuition increase but also having that higher rate locked in for four years.

The university has increased its tuition annually in recent years, and Associate Vice President Terry Babbitt says the proposed optional approach could provide stability to students and their families.

The proposal was a discussion item during the Board of Regents' meeting Monday.

The board is expected to consider it on March 25.

New Mexico Land Grant Group Joins Drilling Fight - The Santa Fe New Mexican

The Mora Land Grant association is joining in the fight against oil and gas drilling in northern New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the group recently filed a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit brought against Mora County by a Texas company.

Mora County Commission is locked in battle with Texas-based Shell Western over oil and gas drilling on private land.

The northern New Mexico county passed an ordinance in April 2013 banning the extract oil, gas or any other hydrocarbon.

The county was first sued over the ordinance in November by the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico trade group and three Mora County property owners. Shell Western, or SWEPI, filed a second lawsuit.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Heading To Nevada - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez plans to travel to Nevada to support New Mexico's collegiate basketball teams in their conference tournaments and to raise money for her re-election.

Campaign spokesman Danny Diaz said the Republican governor and her husband, Chuck Franco, are to leave Thursday for Las Vegas. They will return on Sunday, and the governor's campaign will cover travel expenses.

The University of New Mexico men's basketball team plays Thursday in the Mountain West Conference tournament at the Thomas and Mack Center.

The New Mexico State University Aggies play Thursday in the Western Athletic Conference tournament at the Orleans Arena.

The Aggies and Lobos won their conference tournaments last year.

Campaign fundraising is planned while Martinez is in Nevada. The governor's campaign had cash-on-hand of nearly $3.3 million last fall.