New Mexico Considers Legalizing Medically Assisted Suicide, Educators' Coalition Seeks Reform

Jan 21, 2019

New Mexico Considers Legalizing Medically Assisted Suicide - Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are considering whether to legalize medically assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.

It's the first test of right-to-die legislation since the election last year of a Democratic governor and an enlarged Democratic House majority. Current law that withstood a Supreme Court challenge in 2017 makes it a felony for a physician to assist a patient in ending her or his life.

Legislative committees on Monday began vetting a variety of major policy reforms.

A proposal from Democratic Rep. Deborah Amstrong of Albuquerque and Sen. Liz Stefanics of Santa Fe sets out assisted-suicide protocols that include a two-day waiting period to obtain life-ending drugs.

Opponents of the initiative including the Roman Catholic Church are raising ethical objections to provisions for obtaining life-ending prescriptions by remote consultation with medical providers.

Educators' Coalition Seeks Reform At New Mexico Legislature - Associated Press

Proposals for improving public schools in New Mexico are being presented at the Statehouse by a coalition of educators, nonprofit advocacy groups and the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state Public Education Department.

New Mexico lawmakers are considering a variety of proposals for spending increases on public education designed to raise teacher salaries, extend the school year and overhaul bilingual instruction.

A coalition of teachers, school administrators, parents and others called Transform Education NM planned to announce its legislative agenda on Monday.

A district court judge says the state is failing to meet fundamental guarantees to an adequate education and has set an April deadline for the New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to come up with a solution.

Charter School Advocates Protest Enrollment Cap - Associated Press

Advocates for charter schools in New Mexico are criticizing a bill to increase state educational funding that would place a cap student enrollment at autonomous public schools for one year.

Objections to the limit on charter school growth were raised Monday as a Senate panel took up a proposal to increase state spending by more than $300 million for at-risk students, to extend annual class time, and to boost minimum teacher salaries.

The bill would cap charter school enrollment at 27,000 students for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Democratic state Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque is sponsoring the bill and says it leaves room for about 1,000 new charter school students. She says charter schools have consumed a disproportionately large portion of new educational spending over the past decade.

Democratic Sen. Bill O'Neill called the measure a "frontal assault" on a rapidly growing charter school in Albuquerque where he serves as a board member.

About 8 percent of students in New Mexico attend charter schools.

Public Records Bill Could Hike Costs, Limit Access In State - Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Proposed legislation that would increase fees charged for public records in New Mexico and potentially limit access in certain cases is being called a "terrible anti-transparency" action by an open government advocacy group.

Sen. Pat Woods told the Roswell Daily Record that the main purpose of his proposed legislation is to allow public entities a way to recover the costs associated with fulfilling records requests.

Woods is a Republican who represents District 7 which includes parts of Curry, Quay and Union counties.

Existing state law allows public bodies to charge for the costs of copies or digitally transferring files, not for the costs of compiling the records.

The Daily Record reports that Woods' bill deals with more than costs. It also contains provisions that would restrict access in certain cases.

PBS Films Tackles Native American Links To Rock, Blues, Jazz - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A new PBS Independent Lens documentary shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz.

"RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World," set to air on most PBS stations Monday, shows how Native Americans played a role in shaping American popular music, even though fans had no idea about their ancestry.

The film illustrates how Link Wray, a Shawnee man who grew up in rural North Carolina, responded to the pain of racism with the landmark song "Rumble" — a tune credited with inventing the power chord.

The film also goes into the momentous career of Randy Castillo, the Albuquerque, New Mexico-born Isleta Pueblo drummer for Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe, whose life was cut short by cancer in 2002.

Co-director Catherine Bainbridge says the film presents a missing chapter in the history of American popular music.

Family: New Mexico Avalanche Victim Was Massachusetts Native - Associated Press

Relatives say a 26-year-old man who died in an avalanche at a New Mexico ski resort was a Massachusetts native who was on an annual ski trip with his father.

The mother and sister of Matthew Zonghetti say he was the person killed Thursday at Taos Ski Valley.

Authorities say a second person pulled from the snow is hospitalized in critical condition. Zonghetti's father wasn't injured.

Relatives say Zonghetti was from Mansfield, Massachusetts, and had recently moved to Denver for a new job.

Sue Zonghetti, told WCVB-TV in Boston that she could not believe what happened, and her son is going to be missed by many.

His sister, Kathryn, told KOAT-TV in Albuquerque that he was an expert skier and the best brother anyone could ask for.

2 Minnesota Residents Killed In I-40 Rollover In New Mexico - Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say two Minnesota residents have been killed in a rollover crash.

They say 64-year-old Duane George and 61-year-old Patricia George, both of Elk River, were pronounced dead at the scene of Saturday's accident west of the unincorporated community of Clines Corners.

State Police didn't immediately say if the two people killed were married or related otherwise.

They say the truck hauling a travel trailer was being driven by Duane George around 10 a.m. on Interstate 40 in New Mexico's Torrance County.

State Police say the truck was in the process of passing a car when it rolled for an unknown reason.

They say alcohol doesn't appear to be a factor in the accident and the two victims were wearing seat belts.

New Mexico Inmates Sue Over Spike In Phone Call RateAssociated Press

More than 200 inmates in New Mexico are suing the company that provides phone service to the state's prisons.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the suit against Securus Technologies Inc. says a 2016 rate increase made the cost of calls go from about 3.25 cents per minute to 8 cents per minute.

The lawsuit says, before the contract was amended, inmates paid a flat rate of 65 cents for a 20-minute call. Under the current 8 cents-per-minute rate, a 20-minute call costs $1.60.

A spokesman for Securus Technologies says the actual rate charged for inmate calls varied under the old system because inmates didn't always speak for 20 minutes but paid the whole fee regardless. He says the "average" rate collected for calls before the 2016 amendment to the contract worked out to about 6 cents per minute.