No REAL ID Extension Letter Yet, Work Rules For Food Aid Start Jan. 1

Dec 31, 2015

New Mexico Governor, Lawmakers Haven't Sent Real ID Letter - Russell Contreras, Associated Press, 

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and state lawmakers have not sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeking an extension on REAL ID requirements.

Nearly two weeks after federal officials said New Mexico could get an extension if Martinez and lawmakers sent a letter, no agreement has been drafted amid a looming January 10 deadline.

Federal officials want Martinez and lawmakers to say they will pass a REAL ID compliant law during the next session, which begins January 19.

A spokesman for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez says Sanchez has reached out to GOP House Speaker Don Tripp about a joint letter but no decision has been made.

A Martinez spokesman says the governor welcomes serious collaboration with Democratic lawmakers but did not say if Martinez would send a letter.

Editor's Note: Federal facilities in New Mexico may not accept state IDs starting January 10, 2016. Federal officials have not determined when state IDs will not be accepted at airports for domestic air travel, but have said they'd give 120 days notice before making that change. 

State's New Food Stamp Requirements To Take Effect Friday - The Santa Fe New Mexican, The Associated Press

Thousands of New Mexico residents will be required to complete paid or unpaid work in order to receive government food assistance after they ring in the new year.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that beginning Friday, most childless adults without disabilities and between the ages of 18 to 49 who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will have to prove they spend 80 hours a month in an approved work activity to continue receiving monthly benefits.

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration published new rules Wednesday, ending a contentious process in which members of nonprofits and the public voiced objections to the stricter regulations from the New Mexico Human Services Department.

New Mexico Lowers Speed Limits On Unmarked County Roads – The Associated Press

New Mexico drivers will have to ease that foot off the gas pedal when traveling country roads with no posted speed limit or risk a ticket.

A law going into effect on New Year's Day reduces the speed limit on unmarked county roads from 75 mph to 55 mph.

State lawmakers decided that the default speed limit of 75 mph posed a safety risk on many county roads that were never engineered for speed. Those roads can be unpaved and lined with mailboxes.

County officials say posting specific speed limits along remote roadways requires an analysis and would cost money that is better spent on road maintenance.

In eastern New Mexico, Curry County alone has over 1,500 miles of roads with no posted speed limit.

New Mexico Opens Office In Shiprock To Help Veterans – The Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services has opened up a regional office in Shiprock as part of a program to reach veterans in rural areas.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports the NMDVS recently received a $2 million grant under the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot Grant Program to open the Shiprock office. The agency also has launched offices in Roswell, Santa Clara, and Las Vegas.

Ed Mendez, director of the Rural Veterans Coordination Program, says the offices seek to help veterans who do not have Internet access or cell phone service.

Shiprock staff try to reach Navajo veterans to let them know about various benefits.

About Half Of State's Inmates Have Hepatitis C, DOC Finds – The Associated Press

The state Department of Corrections is asking for millions of dollars to treat the large number of inmates in New Mexico prisons who have hepatitis C.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Department of Corrections has found that about half of the state's prison inmates have the blood-borne viral disease. The department is asking for $10 million to supplement the current year's budget and an additional $2.4 million for the budget that begins in July.

The extra funding would go toward newer, more effective medication that also is more expensive. It would be enough to treat only a fraction of the infected inmates.

Inmates in a handful of other states have sued prison officials for failing to provide access to the newest medications.