Group Sues To Halt New Mexico's New Gun Laws, New Trump Aid To Farmers May Be Paid More Fairly

Jul 27, 2019

Conservative Group Sues To Halt New Mexico's New Gun Laws-Albuquerque Journal

A conservative coalition is suing to overturn New Mexico's new gun laws requiring background checks.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the New Mexico Patriots Advocacy Coalition filed a lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality of New Mexico's new gun laws requiring background checks before the sale of firearms. It's also seeking to throw out a law prohibiting the possession of guns by domestic abusers.

The group also accused state officials of illegally blocking their right to petition for the repeal of 10 bills passed in this year's Democratic-controlled legislative session.

Supporters of the new firearms laws contend the legislation will improve public safety without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Matt Baca, senior counsel in the state's Attorney General's Office, described the litigation as frivolous.

New Mexico Candidate For Senate Will Release Tax Returns -Associated Press

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is pledging to release her tax returns as she competes for the Democratic nomination to an open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.

In response to a request from The Associated Press, campaign spokeswoman Heather Brewer said Friday that Toulouse Oliver would release her tax returns.

Toulouse Oliver is juggling student-loan and credit card debt on a state salary of $85,000 as the single mother of two children that include a college student.

She and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján have submitted financial disclosure forms that are required of Senate candidates.

Lone Republican candidate Gavin Clarkson has requested an extension to file his disclosures.

Less Than A Third Of New Mexico Students Test Proficient -Associated Press

New results show less than a third of all New Mexico students are proficient in reading and only about 1/5th are proficient in math.

New Mexico education officials Friday afternoon released results from a revamp test in 2019 that show a small jump in reading from the year before a drop in math.

The results come days after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham fired Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo, sparking questions from lawmakers and confusion among educators.

According to the results, only 32.7% of all New Mexico students tested proficient in reading. Meanwhile, just 20.3% tested proficient in math.

The results are from the test called the "New Mexico Standards-Based Transition Assessment of Math and English Language Arts" which state officials are calling a "transition test."

New Mexico State Puts Domenici Conference On Hiatus For 2019 -Las Cruces Sun-News

An annual policy conference named after former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico will take a break in 2019.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the New Mexico State University announced Friday it put the conference on hiatus this year and attempt to organize its next event in 2020.

The conference, inaugurated by the university's Domenici Institute in 2008, brought policy experts, scholars, elected officials past and present, cabinet officers, military leaders and other figures of note to Las Cruces.

Attendees would engage with students and the public over two days.

Domenici, a Republican, served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009.

Beetle That Feeds On Invasive Tree Is Spreading In US West -Associated Press

Tiny beetles brought to the U.S. to devour invasive tamarisk trees are now in a central Arizona riverbank.

Their arrival this summer at the Verde River is no surprise.

But it's further proof the tamarisk leaf beetles are spreading faster than once anticipated and eventually could be throughout the entire Southwest United States.

Scientists say tamarisk beetles in the thousands can kill entire trees, also known as salt cedars. That raises the risk of wildfire and allows less time to replace the invasive trees with native cottonwoods and willows where an endangered songbird makes its nest.

Their numbers are low at the Verde River. The bigger concern is the beetles reaching other rivers in Arizona where more Southwestern willow flycatchers live.

As the beetles munch through tamarisk leaves, the songbird loses cover from predators.

High Court Allows Use Of Pentagon Funds For Border Wall -Associated Press

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Trump administration to tap Pentagon funds to build sections of a border wall with Mexico.

The Supreme Court said Friday that it would lift a freeze on the money put in place by a lower court. The Supreme Court's action means the Trump administration can tap the funds and begin work on four contracts it has awarded. Four liberal justices wouldn't have allowed construction to start.

A trial court initially froze the funds in May and an appeals court kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The freeze had prevented the government from tapping approximately $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to replace existing sections of barrier in Arizona, California and New Mexico with more robust fencing.

Lawsuit Accuses Former Espanola Mayor Of Sexual Abuse -Associated Press

A former longtime mayor of a northern New Mexico city has been accused of sexually abusing the son of a former employee in the 1980s.

The lawsuit filed against Richard Lucero alleges he began abusing the boy in the mid-1980s when the child worked for him at his farm supply store in Espanola. The lawsuit says the victim's mother had worked for Lucero in city government.

Lucero served a total of 22 years between 1968 and 2006 as mayor of Espanola, where a community center that includes the local library and athletic center is named after him.

He did not immediately respond to a message left at his store Friday in Espanola seeking comment in response to the lawsuit.

The victim is now in his 40s.

New Trump Aid To Farmers May Be Paid More Fairly -Associated Press

An agricultural economist says the Trump administration's decision to base new handouts to farmers hit by the trade war with China on how many acres they've planted might be a fairer way to distribute the cash than the previous per bushel payments.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that it will pay another $16 billion in aid to farmers affected by the president's trade war with China. It comes after an $11 billion bailout Trump gave farmers last year.

The new aid shifts from paying farmers a per-bushel rate for affected crops to paying them by how many acres they've planted and their location.

Scott Irwin, a University of Illinois agricultural economist says the previous program heavily weighted toward payments to soybean growers and based on bushels, "didn't make any sense."