New Mexico Senate Endorses $11 Minimum Wage, Gov. Signs Bill To Expand Gun Background Checks

Mar 9, 2019

New Mexico Senate Endorses $11 Minimum Wage – Associated Press

The New Mexico state Senate has endorsed an increase in the statewide minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $11 over the course of three years.

The 27-15 vote of the Senate on Friday sends the bill to the Democrat-led House for consideration. The House has approved a larger gradual increase to $12 with automated future increases tied to inflation.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned successfully last year on pledges to seek a $12 minimum wage. She is seeking a $12 minimum for state workers starting in July.

The Senate-approved bill from Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez provides for a separate $8.50 minimum wage for high school students and a slight increase in base pay to $.250 for workers who receive tips, such as restaurant wait staff.

Republican senators called the proposed increases too much for locally owned businesses in rural New Mexico to withstand. Democrats voted in unison with one Republican to pass the bill, though some of those lawmakers favored more generous terms for workers.

Gov. Signs Bill To Expand Gun Background Checks – Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed a bill that will expand mandatory background checks on firearms sales to include transactions between private individuals.

The bill was signed into law Friday after weeks of divisive debate over the constitutional rights of gun owners, school safety and gun violence.

The governor, a Democrat who took office in January, commended the bill's Democratic sponsors, students and other gun-reform advocates who pushed for the bill's passage.

The Brady Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for expanding gun control, says more than 20 states have similar laws calling for at least some restrictions on private firearms sales.

Sheriffs across the state had been among the legislation's most vocal opponents as they declared they would not enforce the measure or other bills still being debated by lawmakers.

Southwest Airlines Expands Albuquerque-Austin Service – Associated Press

Southwest Airlines is expanding service between New Mexico's largest city and Austin, Texas.

The airline has announced that flights between Albuquerque and Austin will be offered daily starting Aug. 6. Currently, only weekend options are available.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said daily, non-stop service between the two cities will open new doors for economic development and tourism with what he called the live music capital of the world.

City officials also pointed to consistent growth at the Albuquerque International Sunport. In 2018, the airport had an increase in passenger traffic of nearly 8 percent.

Last month, the airport announced service to Chihuahua, Mexico.

Exhibit On Us Latina 'Cholas' Set To Open In New Mexico – Associated Press

A national Hispanic center in New Mexico is hosting a unique art exhibit on the chola — the working class, Mexican-American urban female often associated with gangs.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque is opening the “Que Chola Exhibition” on Friday with pieces by artists from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado.

The displays feature the evolution of the chola from her early days as a "pachuca" from the World War II-era zoot suit period to the contemporary figure trying to survive in poor neighborhoods.

Cholas, or homegirls, often refers to a particular Latina subculture in the U.S. characterized by a tough demeanor and distinctive style.

Curator Jadira Gurule says the chola for represents strength and perseverance for many Latinas.

New Mexico House Endorses Recreational Marijuana

A proposal to authorize recreational marijuana sales and consumption for people 21 and over in New Mexico has been endorsed by the New Mexico House of Representatives.

By a 36-34 vote Thursday, the Democrat-led House passed a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana sales largely through state-operated stores. 

Marijuana products would be sold on a consignment basis. The system would be unique in the United States but mimics established state-run stores for liquor.

Some private stores would be allowed in areas far from government-run stores.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Democratic Rep. Javier Martinez called the bill a "grand bargain" between Senate Republican and House Democrats who merged competing proposals.

Ten states and the district of Columbia allow recreational marijuana. New Mexico would become the second state after Vermont to approve it by legislation rather than a ballot initiative.

The bill does not allow for home-grown recreational marijuana. State-approved medical marijuana patients would still be able grown their own.

Lawsuit Claims Discrimination In Sunland Park Police Stop – Associated Press

Police in a New Mexico border city are being accused of discrimination after stopping an immigrant and searching his vehicle for drugs.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed a lawsuit Friday in state district court against the city of Sunland Park. The group alleges a police officer unlawfully detained Oscar Gutierrez Sanchez and his young son during a March 2018 traffic stop.

Sunland Park spokesman Peter Ibarbo said the city was not in a position to comment on the litigation.

Sanchez was initially stopped because the officer accused him of speeding. The lawsuit contends the subsequent search of his vehicle was done without a warrant, consent or probable cause and that authorities turned up no contraband or evidence of illegal activity.

The ACLU alleges that Sanchez was profiled and that such instances erode community trust.

Prosecutors Dismiss Sexual Assault Charges Against 3 Airmen – Associated Press

Prosecutors have dismissed charges against three airmen at a New Mexico Air Force base who were accused of rape.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb said Friday the charges would be dropped against Isaiah Edley, Thomas Newton, and Rahman Buchanan.

She said prosecutors would be unable to prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. She said she made the decision after reviewing results from the state crime lab and meeting with investigators about the case.

If more evidence comes to light, she said the case could be refiled.

Court records say the three men were arrested in January and charged with second-degree criminal sexual penetration after a female airman told police they assaulted her at a house party.

All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges.