Bill To Expand Firearms Background Checks Clears House– Associated Press
The House of Representative has approved a bill to expand background checks on firearms to nearly all private sales or exchanges.
The measure was approved Friday on a 41-25 vote with four Democrats joining Republicans in opposition after roughly three hours of debate.
The Democrat-sponsored bill now moves to the Senate. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports the measure.
Under current New Mexico law, background checks are not required on many private sales such as those arranged through online marketplaces. The House-approved bill would close that loophole and others, vetting nearly all sales through a national instant background check system.
The bill provides exceptions for sales between two law enforcement officers. It does not exempt antique firearms.
Democratic Reps. Patricio Ruiloba, Joseph Sanchez, Candie Sweetser and Harry Gracia opposed the bill.
New Mexico Catholic Ex-Priest Arrested For Child Rape – Associated Press
A former Catholic priest on the Santa Fe Archdiocese's list of clergy members credibly accused of sexually abusing children has been arrested.
Marvin Archuleta was arrested Friday in Albuquerque after the New Mexico Attorney General's Office filed a criminal complaint accusing the 80-year-old of child rape and kidnapping.
According to court documents, Archuleta raped a 6-year-old boy attending the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, during the mid-1980s. Documents say Archuleta raped the boy while wrapping a belt around the child's chest.
The charges follow the state attorney general's office serving a pair of search warrants on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in October. The office sought documents related to two former New Mexico priests accused of sexually abusing children.
No attorney was listed for Archuleta.
US Delays Oil-And-Gas Lease Sale Near Sacred Tribal Land– Associated Press
U.S. land managers no longer plan to move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. They say they need to gather more information before they put the parcels up for bidding.
The decision Friday by the federal Bureau of Land Management comes after tribal leaders and others criticized the agency for pushing ahead with drilling permit reviews and preparations for energy leases near the site.
Numerous tribes in the region say the now-remote park recognized as a United Nations world heritage site had been a ceremonial and economic hub for their ancestors.
They expressed concern about federal officials' plans to push forward with a lease sale despite the recent government shutdown.
Clovis Continues To Be Hit By Teacher Shortage– Associated Press,
An eastern New Mexico school district continues to be hit with a teacher shortage.
The Eastern New Mexico News reports Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Jody Balch said this week the district had 25 teaching openings and 23 openings for long-term substitutes.
Out of the district's 525 teaching positions, about 36 percent are not being filled by the traditional methods.
According to the 2018 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report, there were 33 percent fewer students completing educator preparation programs in New Mexico during the 2017-2018 school year compared with 2009-2010.
Vetting Begins For Recreational Marijuana Bill – Associated Press
Initiatives to increase state educational spending, authorize recreational marijuana sales and ban animal traps on public land are being vetted by the New Mexico Legislature over the weekend.
The Saturday committee hearings are designed to accommodate intense public interest in the proposals. It's the first public hearing on a bill to regulate and tax recreational cannabis.
The arrival of a Democratic governor and expanded Democratic majority in the Legislature this year has rekindled efforts to allow recreational marijuana use and increase spending on education from the state's $17 billion educational trust fund through a constitutional amendment.
The proposed $170 million annual increase in withdrawals from the Land Grant Permanent Fund has yet to reach a floor vote. Approval by the Legislature would send the measure to a statewide vote.
Legislature Begins Vetting Medicaid Buy-In Bill – Associated Press
Medical insurance companies are pushing back against a bill that would open up New Mexico's Medicaid program to paying customers.
America's Health Insurance Plans lobbyist Brent Moore told a legislative panel Friday that medical insurance companies are concerned that a Medicaid buy-in system could erode the market for individual health insurance for those without access to subsidies or an employer-sponsored plan. He also said private insurance providers worry that low Medicaid reimbursement rates could drive away medical providers.
Democratic Representative and bill sponsor Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque says the initial goal is to help uninsured patients. She acknowledged the potential for a Medicaid buy-in plan to shift costs onto the individual market as it expands.
A committee vote on the bill was delayed until Monday because of minor amendments.