The New Mexico Supreme Court supports the governor’s pandemic agency – Associated Press
The state’s Supreme Court has issued a written statement showing a renewed resolve in support of pandemic-related health restrictions imposed on companies by the New Mexico governor.
At the same time on Monday, lawmakers were taking steps that could limit Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s power to declare a health emergency.
The Supreme Court opinion provides detailed and updated rationale for an August ruling denying a lawsuit by several restaurants and their industry association.
The court said a suggestion that lawmakers hold special sessions to manage the pandemic was apparently unworkable. Chief Justice Michael Vigil was not involved in the case.
A state Senate committee tabled a bill on Monday to give lawmakers some authority over widespread public health emergencies.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca bill would limit the duration of public health orders to 45 days and require legislative approval to extend an order.
The committee withheld a positive vote, but maintained the initiative for further review before a possible Senate vote.
New Mexico health officials reported 200 additional COVID-19 cases and nine deaths on Monday.
Draft law by the legislature with the aim of allowing a leisure pot – From Morgan Lee, Associated Press
Legislators have tabled a proposal to legalize recreational cannabis across New Mexico and lifted the state’s strict production restrictions on its medical cannabis program.
After more than six hours of testimony and deliberation, a Health Legislative Committee on Monday approved a Democrat-backed bill and rejected a second to create a taxable and regulated market for large-scale cannabis sales.
The two-day hearing highlighted an initiative that would subsidize medical marijuana for the poor and lift the current limit on the number of plants any licensed grower can grow.
A total of four legislative proposals were tabled that would open the doors to widespread sales and use of marijuana – 14 years after New Mexico launched a medical marijuana program that spanned a variety of conditions, from cancer to post-traumatic stress.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned for the creation of a recreational marijuana market in 2018 to create new jobs and diversify an economy closely linked to oil and natural gas exploration. Several prominent opponents of legalization lost parliamentary elections in 2020, raising the prospects for major cannabis reforms.
The Democratic State MP Andrea Romero from Santa Fe tabled a bill on Monday authorizing the nationwide sale of cannabis to adults aged 21 and over with some discretion over taxes and possible restrictions on where and when the pot is sold should. It was approved in a 7-4 vote, with Democratic support.
Romero’s bill, jointly sponsored by Albuquerque Democrats Javier Martínez and Deborah Armstrong, would waive ongoing taxes on medical marijuana and add a 9% state excise tax on recreational cannabis sales. Local governments could add an additional 4% tax.
A fifth of cannabis tax revenue would be used to sell to medicinal cannabis patients who cannot afford the drug. About a third of the proceeds would go to grants that reinvest in communities disproportionately affected by drug criminalization and to fund substance abuse prevention programs and marijuana abstinence education programs for youth.
Other income would go to the state general fund.
A bill from Santa Fe Democratic MP Tara Lujan would maintain some state restrictions on the cultivation of cannabis by licensed producers. Proponents of the approach say it would protect itself from a possible drop in prices that could consolidate the cannabis industry in the hands of a few large industrial growers. That bill was put aside in the House of Representatives on Monday while a Senate version is still under scrutiny.
Republicans in the legislative minority have mixed opinions about whether or how to deal with a recreational marijuana market.
Bill advances to hold special primary congress elections – Associated Press
State lawmakers on Monday welcomed a bill to change the nomination process for candidates to replace US Representative Deb Haaland when she sought confirmation as Secretary of the Interior under President Joe Biden.
Haaland’s confirmation would spark a seldom-used party nomination process that some consider undemocratic.
Under current state law, candidates for a special election would be nominated by a small group of political activists who sit on central committees for the state’s republican and democratic parties.
A bill by Republican Senator Mark Moores of Albuquerque and Democratic Rep. Daymon Ely of Corrales would change the selection process to a district-wide special election, followed by the general election.
On Monday, a Senate electoral policy committee tabled the bill after its first public hearing. Another review is pending a possible vote in the Senate.
Moores and Ely say the current primary selection process is effectively disenfranchising voters.
“This bill gives voters the power to choose their candidates and requires candidates to demonstrate voter support over mere party support,” Moores said in a statement.
The current nomination process is also being challenged in court by a Republican candidate for the 1st District seat in Albuquerque.
The state’s legislative analysts estimate the special election would double the cost of the general special election by $ 3 million.
External Albuquerque Police Department Internal Affairs Support Team – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
The city of Albuquerque and the US Department of Justice have proposed a plan to provide temporary assistance to the Albuquerque police force investigators.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that an outside team is expected to fix problems that arise and train detectives on how to improve their job performance.
The proposal was submitted to federal court and approved by the city, the Department of Justice and an independent observer overseeing police reform.
The plan is in response to a November report by independent observer James Ginger that the police force failed to regulate itself at all levels.
Ginger assessed the city’s progress in line with a settlement agreement resulting from the Justice Department’s 2014 finding that officers displayed a pattern and practice of excessive violence.
Ginger noted that officials did not report the use of force, internal affairs detectives “went through the applications” and the department management allowed sub-par work approved by the then department head.
Chief Michael Geier was asked to resign in part because of the report. Deputy Head Harold Medina is now acting as interim department head.
Medina, now serving as the department’s interim director, welcomes the resources and expertise while changing her research on the use of force.
University ends journal subscriptions amid budget cuts – Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press
The New Mexico State University Library has decided not to renew its 433 academic journal subscriptions in the wake of budget cuts.
The Las Cruces Sun News reported that the school has been preparing for two years of budget cuts for several months to cope with the economic pressures associated with the coronavirus.
A third of the subscriptions were titles in a package that the library’s interim dean Katherine Terpis said will save the university $ 800,000 over the next two years.
The other cancellations save about $ 45,000 more.
The magazine subscriptions enabled students and professors to access the works for research purposes.
You can still access previous content that the school has already paid for, but new content will be available as purchase on request via interlibrary loan or document delivery.
The school continues to have access to other academic journals and has special student fees of approximately $ 267,000 to pay for subscriptions.
New Mexico reports 200 COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths on Monday – Associated Press
New Mexico health officials reported 200 additional COVID-19 cases and nine deaths on Monday.
The latest numbers bring the state to a total of 180,761 known cases and 3,538 deaths since the pandemic began.
Bernalillo County reported more cases than any other, with 65 new cases. Doña Ana County reported 21 new cases, San Juan County 20 cases, and McKinley County 19 cases.
The number of infections is believed to be far higher than advertised as many people have not been tested. Studies have shown that people can become infected with the virus without feeling sick.
New infections in New Mexico are declining, and health officials said last week that vaccinations helped bring the numbers down.
However, they stressed that public health practices such as wearing masks and washing hands are still important as different varieties continue to emerge.
Navajo Nation reports 55 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths – Associated Press
Navajo Nation officials reported 55 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths.
The latest numbers, released on Sunday evening, bring the total number of cases in the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,269 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,111 reported deaths related to COVID-19.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez made a statement reminding people to continue taking precautions to avoid the virus spreading and to protect their loved ones. He also encouraged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The tribe has a nightly curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. to limit the spread of the virus.
Tribal officials said more than 15,760 people have recovered from COVID-19 on the reservation and nearly 240,000 tests have been conducted.