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TUES: Pretrial detention change could cost New Mexico $15M a year, + More

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Pretrial detention change could cost New Mexico $15M a year - Associated Press

A proposed state Senate bill that calls for people accused of certain violent crimes to remain jailed without bond until trial could cost New Mexico up to $15.3 million annually, according to a legislative analysis obtained by a newspaper.

The Santa Fe New Mexican said the fiscal impact report by the Legislative Finance Committee also cites concerns about whether the measure might violate the state's constitution.

The newspaper said the proposed bill is backed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez and Rep. Meredith Dixon, both Albuquerque Democrats.

Gubernatorial spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said in an email that Lujan Grisham "has been clear about prioritizing keeping violent repeat offenders off New Mexico streets by establishing a rebuttable presumption."

The proposed bill is scheduled for its first legislative hearing Wednesday before the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee.

The measure would establish a presumption that no conditions of release would protect the community from defendants charged with crimes such as first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, sexual exploitation of a child and child trafficking, the New Mexican reported.

While the state's current pretrial detention system requires prosecutors to provide evidence proving to a New Mexican district judge a defendant poses too great a danger to be released on any conditions, the bill states "it shall be presumed" prosecutors have satisfied their burden of proof through probable cause to charge the person with one of several high-level felony counts, according to the newspaper.

The defendant would have an opportunity to rebut the presumption.

Advocates told the New Mexican that the goal of the measure is to prevent defendants from committing additional violent crimes while they await their trials.

GOP lawmakers propose repealing NM film incentives - Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News

A Republican-sponsored bill set for its first legislative hearing Wednesday would eliminate New Mexico’s tax incentives for the film industry.

The Albuquerque Journal reports House Bill 237 would repeal the film rebates that include a 25%-35% tax credit for productions, and 5% to film in smaller communities outside Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

Republican Rep. Larry Scott questions whether the rebates are a good deal for taxpayers. He told the Journal that while the industry brought in over $850 million dollars to the state last year, taxpayers gave it back $155 million. He added that, with only 2,600 film jobs generated, the math deserves a conversation.

The New Mexico Film Office opposes the legislation, arguing the incentives are crucial to New Mexico maintaining a thriving industry, and that the state needs to remain competitive with surrounding states that have established their own programs.

A recent study backed that up, showing that 92% of productions wouldn’t have filmed in or even considered New Mexico without the tax breaks it offers.

The study concluded that the state gains $8 dollars for every $1 it invests in the industry.

Prescribed burn bill reignites in committee and heads to Senate floor, without penalties - Megan Gleason, Source New Mexico

A bill that originally would’ve banned prescribed burns in the spring has morphed into legislation that would prohibit planned fires anytime the National Weather Service puts out a warning that extreme weather conditions could lead to risky fire danger.

A committee substitute for Senate Bill 21 got through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Last month, Sen. Ron Griggs (R-Alamogordo) prefiled legislation that would’ve barred prescribed burns anytime between March 1 and May 31. Lawmakers tabled the bill and brought it back last week with different guidelines, proposing a ban in the spring, and only when the National Weather Service issues a red flag warning for extreme wind, hot temperatures and low humidity.

After Monday’s amendments, the proposed fire ban would now apply anytime there’s a red flag warning, not just in the spring, but year-round

Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) was the only lawmaker to oppose the bill. He said it reads more like a memorial because it doesn’t have any repercussions if violated.

“Your bill doesn’t have a consequence,” he said during the committee hearing. “So it says ‘You can’t do this.’ Well, if I do it, so what?”

The U.S. Forest Service ignited two prescribed fires that merged to become the Hermits Peak-Caf Canyon Fire. Griggs said this bill will offer protection for anyone planning burns or those who suffer from out-of-control wildfires.

“Last year, New Mexico was ravaged by wildfire,” Griggs said.

Laura McCarthy is the state forester for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. She said the measure won’t actually do what it says and would limit how forests are managed. Some land and vegetation need wind-driven fires to stay healthy, she added.

“It doesn’t accomplish anything to change future outcomes. It doesn’t repair the damage that’s been done,” she said. “And it doesn’t send a message to the U.S. Forest Service, who is really the target of our collective anger, at what happened.”

Sen. Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque) asked McCarthy if the state regularly lights fires on red flag days. McCarthy said yes.

Other members of the public who didn’t support the bill said they’re worried this would lead to more restrictions on prescribed burns, especially for private landowners. They argued that the practice can help reduce the risk of future wildfires.

However, Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) pointed out that many in opposition reiterated the point that nobody should do burns when the National Weather Service calls out the extreme weather conditions.

“It just seems like a no-brainer,” he said. “Don’t start a prescribed burn on a red flag day.”

Wirth said he’s not sure how much power this bill would actually have over the federal government but that it would definitely send a message to them, despite what McCarthy said. Sen. Bill O’Neil (D-Albuquerque) backed that up.

“I just feel this is an important signal to send,” O’Neil said.

Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque) proposed on Monday to cut the entire portion of the bill that bans planned burns in spring during a red flag warning.

What would be left of the bill is the section that prohibits private landowners from conducting prescribed fires when local or state restrictions are made due to wind or drought conditions.

However, Griggs said he wanted to talk over that with Ivey-Soto before the measure heads to the full Senate. Ivey-Soto withdrew the proposal before a vote on it so they could discuss it later.

Senate advances proposal that would ban certain types of guns and ammunition - Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News 

A bill that would ban the sale of certain types of semiautomatic handguns, automatic rifles, and frangible ammo that disintegrates on impact has made it through its first committee in the roundhouse.

As the Albuquerque Journal reports in a copyrighted story, the bill cleared the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee on a party-line vote.

Supporters of the bill are urging the sponsors to make the legislation narrower and more pointed –– so it could avoid potential 2nd amendment constitutional challenges if passed into law.

Others, like Democratic senator Bill Tallman of Albuquerque weren’t as impressed, saying the legislation doesn’t take aim at the problem of “gun crazy” Americans that have too many firearms.

As it stands, the legislation would ban the sale, not possession of these weapons and ammunition.

It now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee, before reaching the full Senate floor.

Edgewood police: 3 teen deaths likely from carbon monoxide - Associated Press

Three teenagers have been found dead in a garage in the town of Edgewood and it appears to have been carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said Monday.

Edgewood police said the bodies were found Sunday and a propane heater was in use in the garage.

According to Chief Roger Jimenez, police were notified of the deaths around 11 a.m. by people who live at the home where the incident occurred.

The names and ages of the three teens were being withheld until their families could be notified.

Because the three victims were juveniles, Jimenez said his department was "treading lightly" about releasing information about the deaths.

Jimenez said the teens were all from different families in the community but didn't provide the address where the deaths occurred.

He said there was no indication of foul play in the deaths and stressed the importance of carbon monoxide detectors in homes and workplaces.

The teens were students in the Moriarty-Edgewood School District and officials said grief counseling will be available to students and families of the victims.

Edgewood is located 33 miles east of Albuquerque.

Albuquerque mayor seeks limits on short-term rentals – Albuquerque Journal

The mayor of New Mexico’s largest city is looking to limit the number of short-term vacation rentals in an effort to address the housing shortage.

TheAlbuquerque Journal reports that Mayor Tim Keller wants to cap the number at 1,200 and also limit how many such rentals a person may own. City Councilors Isaac Benton, Tammy Fiebelkorn and Renee Grout are sponsoring the request by the mayor.

The changes would be through amendments to the existing short-term rental ordinance. That took effect in April 2021 and required vacation rentals to get a city permit and follow occupancy and gathering-size limits. They also need a representative available at all times to respond to complaints. This new proposal would require that person to be within 20 miles of Albuquerque.

The effort is part of Keller’s Housing Forward Initiative to add 5,000 more residential units. A city spokesman told the Journal the idea is to protect the housing stock in the city and dissuade corporations and LLCs from buying up property in Albuquerque.

The proposal will go to the council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee.

Aid worker for NM organization killed in Ukraine - Santa Fe New Mexican, KUNM News

A member of a Santa Fe-based organization has been killed while providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Pete Reed, the director of Global Outreach Doctors’ work in Ukraine, was killed Thursday near the city of Bakhmut. The 33-year-old was a veteran of the Marine Corps originally from New Jersey.

Global Outreach Doctors Director Andrew Lustig says Reed was killed while evacuating civilians in the city under attack by Russian forces, adding that “he selflessly dedicated his life in service to others, especially those affected by disaster and war” and that “he leaves behind an incredible legacy.”

The Santa Fe organization provides medical and rescue aid in countries experiencing war, famine or natural disasters. It has paused its Ukrainian operation in the wake of Reed’s death.

Bush fire reported in Mora County – By Nash Jones, KUNM News

A brush fire has broken out in Mora County southwest of Wagon Mound.

The Mora County Sheriff’s department announced yesterday afternoon that several fire crews and law enforcement are responding to the approximately 1,000-acre fire.

Officials say it is 30% contained at this point, and is being fueled by grasses and high winds in the area.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque is predicting winds in Northeast New Mexico to increase later last evening and last into the early morning, though snow is expected to reach the area overnight as well.

Mora county was hit by the state’s largest-ever wildfire last year, which destroyed the homes and livelihoods of many in the rural northern New Mexico communities. The fire, at this point, is not threatening any structures and no one is being ordered to evacuate.