Ethics Commission Bill Heads To Governor, More Migrants Expected In Albuquerque

Mar 16, 2019

Ethics Commission Bill Heads To New Mexico Governor- Associated Press

The Legislature has passed a bill to establish an independent state ethics commission for complaints about the conduct of public officials.

A final Senate vote on Friday capped weeks of public hearings and backroom negotiations and sends the bill to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for consideration.

The creation of the seven-member commission was authorized by statewide vote in November 2018. That came in the wake of a series of high-profile public corruption scandals.

Detailed workings of the commission were left up to the Legislature and governor.

The bill limits the commission's subpoena powers to requests authorized by a specially appointed judge. Complaint wouldn't be made public until 30 days after a probable-cause finding to allow time for a settlement. Criminal violations may be referred to state and local prosecutors.

Santa Fe Schools Use Up All Allotted Snow Days- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Santa Fe's public schools have used up the current school year's allotted four snow days, and officials say that creates the possibility that another weather-related closure could force the erasure of a holiday in April or the addition of a school day.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that weather-related issues resulted in classes being canceled on Nov. 12th, Jan. 18th, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Officials say an analysis will determine how much breathing room remains.

New Mexico requires students in first through sixth grades to have 5½ hours a day, or 990 hours a year, of school-directed programs, not including lunch.

For students in grades seven through 12, the law requires six hours per day, or 1,080 hours per year.

Each total adds up to 180 full school days.

New Mexico Legislature Approves Indigenous People's Day Bill- Associated Press

A proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day won final approval Friday in the state Legislature following a lengthy and sometimes emotional debate.

The Senate voted 22-15 to approve the bill pushed by Native American activists.

Numerous cities nationwide, including Albuquerque, have moved to shift the October holiday's focus from honoring Christopher Columbus by passing resolutions and measures that instead called for celebrating indigenous cultures.

Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr., a Democrat from Pueblo, said the day was needed to counter lessons taught in schools that claim Columbus "discovered" the Americas despite indigenous people already living there for centuries.

New Mexico is home to 23 tribes.

The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her possible signature.

Storm Knocks Out Colorado Mine's Treatment Plant- Associated Press

New Mexico officials have told some municipal drinking water systems to stop using water from two rivers after the weather-related failure of a mine wastewater treatment plant upstream in Colorado.

The New Mexico Environment Department said Friday anyone who uses the San Juan and Animas rivers for drinking water or irrigation should take appropriate precautions, but it did not say what those precautions might be.

The agency said the U.S. Geological Survey will test water and sediment from the rivers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the wastewater plant, said it doesn't believe drinking water will be harmed.

The plant treats water flowing from the Gold King Mine. The EPA said electric power fluctuations related to a major winter storm knocked the plant out on Thursday.

More Migrants Expected In Albuquerque- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Between 200 and 300 migrants are expected to be bused to New Mexico's largest city over the weekend as shelters closer to the U.S.-Mexico border fill up.

Officials with the city of Albuquerque provided the latest estimate Friday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports shelters in El Paso are running out of room as more people cross the border. That has resulted in asylum-seeking migrants being housed at faith-based shelters in the Las Cruces area and now at hotels in Albuquerque moving on to stay with family or sponsors as they await formal hearings.

Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, has been processing an average of 500 people a day.

Numbers released by the agency last week show the apprehensions of family groups in the sector have increased exponentially compared to the same period last year.