Cities And Counties Sue Over State Tax Revenue, Governor Gives State Workers Paid Parental Leave

Jan 1, 2020

More Cities, Counties Join Lawsuit Over New Mexico TaxesAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

More New Mexico cities and counties are claiming that the state tax agency has failed to accurately collect and distribute tax revenue.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 44 municipalities, counties and other local agencies have signed on to a lawsuit that began with just a few local governments a year ago.

The complaint alleges violations in the state's handling of potentially tens of millions of dollars in gross receipts tax revenue. The Taxation and Revenue Department in court documents has denied the allegations.

The agency has appointed a liaison to answer questions and concerns about the tax distribution.

New Mexico Governor Gives State Workers Paid Parental Leave -Associated Press

The Democratic governor of New Mexico is ordering paid family leave of 12 weeks for the parents of newborn and adopted children at all agencies under her authority.

The policy was announced Tuesday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and takes effect on New Year's Day. Until now, the state did not provide any paid maternity or paternity leave. 

The annual cost to taxpayers is estimated at roughly $5 million. 

The first-term governor has been rapidly expanding the ranks of state government amid a surge in government income.

Construction Jobs On The Rise In New Mexico -Associated Press

The construction industry is booming in New Mexico. 

The Associated General Contractors of America says the state was ranked No. 2 in the nation in October and November for construction job growth. 

Both months marked more than 11% year-over-year gains. The only other state with better numbers was Nevada. 

A dominant share of New Mexico's increased construction is in oil-rich Eddy and Lea counties in southeastern New Mexico, where economic development officials expect even more activity in 2020. 

Officials say the shortage of qualified construction workers in southeastern New Mexico is the only thing holding the Carlsbad and Hobbs areas from even more construction.

New Mexico Now Considering Energy Efficiency Of Office Space -Associated Press

The state of New Mexico says it's now considering the energy efficiency of buildings when leasing office space. 

The state General Services Department made the announcement Tuesday, saying it also will take into account other measures by building owners to reduce environmental effects, such as recycling programs, eco-friendly cleaning products or the installation of solar power. 

The state's facilities management division recently issued a request for proposals for temporary office space for the Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. 

The department's current home is up for a major renovation that will include solar.

Northern New Mexico State Park Open To Ice Fishing -Associated Press

Officials with the New Mexico State Parks Division say Eagle Nest is now open to ice fishing. 

Current measurements indicate that ice thickness at the northern New Mexico lake exceeds minimum standards and can accommodate walk-in or snowmobile access. 

The State Parks Division has the authority to close or restrict access to areas of parks, as well as to restrict, limit or prohibit activities such as ice fishing, as conditions require. 

Officials say such actions are taken in the interest of public safety and resource protection. 

Officials also are warning visitors not to fish alone and to be prepared for weather conditions.

New Mexico Governor Done With Leadership On Wildlife Panel -Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has decided not to reappoint one of her own picks to a panel that oversees hunting, fishing and wildlife management across the state. 

The Democratic governor had appointed Joanna Prukop to the Game Commission in May. 

After a long career in wildlife and natural resources management, Prukop became the first woman to chair the commission. 

Her term expires Jan. 1, but the governor's office said she would not be reappointed, citing policy disagreements. 

Hunting, angling and wildlife advocates voiced concerns about the move, saying the panel had done a good job in recent months with Prukop at the helm.

New Mexico AG Seeks Meeting With Faith Leaders Over Violence

New Mexico's top prosecutor says he wants to meet with religious leaders from around the state to discuss hate-motivated violence. 

Attorney General Hector Balderas made the request in a letter sent Tuesday in the wake of a deadly church shooting in Texas and a bloody attack on a Hanukkah celebration in New York. 

The attorney general's office has drafted anti-domestic terrorism and hate crime legislation for consideration during the upcoming session. 

Balderas says he wants to ensure New Mexico's faith communities have a voice in the process and are heard on what he described as critical issues. 

US Agency Formalizes Border Medical Plan After Migrants Die -Associated Press

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is formally codifying a medical plan formed in the wake of a massive surge of migrant families to the U.S.-Mexico border and deaths in their custody. 

The goal was to increase medical care and efficiency. 

The plan comes after a public outcry over the medical care of migrants in border custody, and the deaths of children. 

The plan includes a sustainable plan for triage, plus screenings for respiratory systems, plus vaccine requirements for staff and supplies on hand. 

New Device In New Mexico Turns Back Clock On Astronomy -Associated Press

A new astronomy instrument perched in the hills of northern New Mexico is a throwback to the late 16th century, just before the advent of telescopes. 

The assembly of steel rings at St. John's College is a unique replica of a device that shattered notions of heavenly spheres. 

It's like a time portal for students of science history in an age of constellation-charting phone apps. 

Retired teacher Bill Donahue says the device is a remake of long-lost originals devised by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in the late 16th century that challenged concepts of planetary motion and forces.