State Floats Higher Cap On Cannabis Production, Motorcyclist Arrested In Pride Crosswalk Damage

Jun 11, 2019

New Mexico Proposes New Cap On Cannabis Production - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico is proposing new cannabis production rules designed to shore up supplies to its medical marijuana program without flooding the rapidly expanding market.

The Department of Health published a proposal Tuesday to limit medical cannabis cultivation to 1,750 mature plants per licensed producer.

The prior 450-plant limit was struck down this year in response to a lawsuit by the state's largest seller and the mother of a child who is reliant on cannabis oil to treat a form of epilepsy.

Immature seedlings shorter than 8 inches won't count toward the limit so that producers can experiment with plant strains.

The production cap could increase starting in June 2021 if demands outstrip supplies.

Participation in the state's medical cannabis program has grown rapidly in recent years after chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder were added to a list of qualifying medical conditions. Last week, the list was expanded to include opioid use disorder, Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder and several degenerative neurological disorders.

New Mexico Pays $700K In Prison Workers Discrimination Suit Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico has agreed to pay $700,000 to state prison workers who claimed they were discriminated against because of their age and faced retaliation after reporting the allegations.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the settlement agreement filed last week allows the state Corrections Department to deny the allegations while agreeing to two years of monitoring.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supervisor trial attorney Loretta Medina says about 70 employees will get a share of the settlement.

According to the complaint, two employees at the Los Lunas prison claimed they were passed up for a promotion or a job change because of their ages. They claimed the prison promoted and hired younger, less experienced employees.

State Corrections Department officials did not return the newspaper's calls and emails Monday.

US Considering A Customs Port In New Mexico To Shelter Migrant ChildrenAssociated Press

The federal government will be opening a facility at an Army base in Oklahoma to house migrant children and is considering a customs port in southern New Mexico as another option as existing shelters are overwhelmed.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement said Tuesday it's dealing with a dramatic spike in the number of children crossing the border without parents. The facility at Fort Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma, would be capable of holding 1,400 kids.

Bases in Georgia and Montana were passed over, but officials also are weighing the possibility of establishing an emergency shelter at New Mexico's Santa Teresa port of entry.

Under fire for the death of two children who went through the agency's shelters, the agency says it must set up new facilities to accommodate new arrivals.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Targeting School District PolicyGallup Independent, Associated Press

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that claimed a New Mexico school district was discriminating against charter school students by excluding them from its campus events.

The Gallup Independent reports the judge ruled last week that Gallup-McKinley County Schools' exclusion policy was "rationally related to its promotion of safety" and not intentional discrimination.

The ruling noted the policy applied to all students outside the district's nine regular schools.

Parents of Middle College High School students filed a lawsuit in August 2018, claiming the policy "singled out and intentionally discriminated" against their students.

The lawsuit sought to stop the policy that barred charter school students from district events like dances and pep rallies.

The parents' attorney, David Jordan, says they were disappointed by ruling and will likely pursue an appeal.

Police Say 4 Found Dead In Waterway Near US-Mexico Border - Cedar Attanasio Associated Press

Authorities in Texas say four men have been found dead in an irrigation canal that funnels water from the Rio Grande to farmers in southern New Mexico and west Texas.

Police in El Paso, Texas, say three were found dead by Border Patrol agents in a tunnel adjoining a section of the canal that runs along the U.S.-Mexico border. An additional body washed up on the bank the same canal hours later, upstream, on the border of New Mexico and Texas.

Police say the body of the 4th suspected drowning victim was reported by the New Mexico Water District. They do not suspect foul play in either incident and have not identified the names or nationalities of the victims.

The canals were flooded two weeks ago in an annual reservoir release, with higher snowmelt supplying more water. U.S. Customs and Border Protection say single adult migrant crossings have doubled in the area since last year.

Police Arrest Motorcyclist Accused Of Pride Crosswalk DamageAssociated Press

Albuquerque police have arrested a motorcyclist days after they say he vandalized a rainbow-colored crosswalk ahead of the city's PrideFest.

A criminal complaint says 31-year-old Anthony Morgan faced charges Tuesday that include felony criminal property damage. Video showed a couple bikers taking turns burning rubber over the crosswalk on June 5.

The crosswalk on a stretch of Historic Route 66 near the University of New Mexico cost the city $30,000 to install as a sign of inclusiveness for the city's LGBT community.

Police say they received tips saying Morgan was part of a motorcycle group known as the Malicious Riders.

Video shows the riders who burned their tires on the crosswalk were among about 40 who slowed down at the intersection.

It was not immediately known if Morgan had an attorney.

Ex-New Mexico Governor, NMSU Chancellor To Join Ethics Panel - Associated Press

Former New Mexico State University Chancellor and President Garrey Carruthers has been appointed to the State Ethics Commission.

Carruthers, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, was appointed to the commission by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle.

Carruthers was co-chair of Gov. Bill Richardson's Task Force on Ethics Reform in 2006 when Carruthers was dean of NMSU College of Business. He also served as special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Voters approved the creation of the commission by statewide ballot last year to oversee conduct by public officials, political candidates, lobbyists and government contractors amid a string of political corruption scandals.

Detailed provisions for the seven-seat body were signed into law last month and outline investigatory powers and public disclosure. Subpoenas must be approved by a judge.


Border State Challenges Quick-Release Asylum Practices - Associated Press

New Mexico and its largest city are suing the Trump administration to stem the quick release of asylum seeking migrants into local communities while demanding reimbursement for humanitarian efforts to shelter migrants.

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced the lawsuit against acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and top federal immigration officials.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind by a state. It resembles a suit by San Diego County in April also challenging the cancellation of an immigration program that helped migrants with phone calls and other travel logistics as they sought out final destinations throughout the United States. Now asylum seeking migrants typically are released almost immediately.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Most New Mexicans Are Real ID-Compliant As Deadline Looms Associated Press

New Mexico now has 1 million residents with driver's licenses or identification cards that comply with tougher federal ID requirements that will take effect in 2020.

Officials with the state Taxation and Revenue Department say people have just over a year to meet the deadline under the Real ID Act, which was passed in 2005 to strengthen rules for identification for airline flights and at federal facilities such as military bases.

With the one-millionth license issued last week, about 70 percent of New Mexico licenses and identification cards now carry the gold star that marks them as being Real ID-compliant.

New Mexico began issuing the credentials in November 2016 as part of a two-tier system that also allows for IDs that do not meet the tougher standards to be issued.

New Mexico Airports To Get Nearly $14M In Federal Funds - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's airports will get millions of dollars in federal aid for maintenance and other projects.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded more than $13 million in funding to be used at 16 airports in the state.

New Mexico's congressional delegation including U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich made the announcement Friday.

The funds will help with critical improvements, construction and other repairs.

Officials say the largest projects in need are in Doña Ana County, Lea County and the Four Corners region.

Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa will get nearly $5 million to rebuild part of an existing area.

Heinrich says the money will help modernize the state's smaller airports.

Latino Civil Rights Group Faults UNM On Hispanic Hiring - Associated Press

The New Mexico chapter of the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the U.S. is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate hiring practices at the University of New Mexico.

The New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens endorsed Saturday a resolution asking the state attorney general, state auditor and U.S. Justice Department to look into how the state's flagship university is hiring administrators.

New Mexico LULAC Executive Director Ralph Arellanes says University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes did not follow through on promises to include Latinos on search committees for key positions. He has also faulted the university for not hiring Hispanics from New Mexico.

University of New Mexico spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair says the school adheres to state and federal laws in its hiring practices.

New Mexico Seeks Public Input On Volkswagen Settlement Funds - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico officials are giving the public a chance to weigh in on how to spend settlement money connected to the Volkswagen smog device emissions scandal.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the state Environment Department has opened the public comment period for a proposal on divvying up the funds.

The state was awarded $18 million in 2017 after the Volkswagen Group of America acknowledged rigging 11 million of its vehicles with software used to cheat on vehicle emissions tests.

Environmental regulators say some of the VW vehicles emitted up to 40 times the allowed levels of unhealthy nitrous oxides when on the road.

Under the current plan, the state is recommending the money go toward helping local governments buy alternative-fueled vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations.