Citing trouble collecting money, some mayoral candidates abandon public financing

Albuquerque mayoral candidates seeking public campaign money have less than a week left to qualify. While the filing deadline may lead to a reduced list of candidates, it’s likely candidates who fail to qualify for public financing will stay in the race and instead fund their campaigns through private donations. The Albuquerque city clerk’s website listed seven candidates as seeking public financing as of Monday night, but two candidates on that list told NM Political Report they will forgo public money and fund their campaigns from regular donations. Those who are still trying to qualify for public money will need to submit almost 4,000 contributions of $5 each by Saturday to qualify. The collected contributions will be deposited into a city account and then divided amongst the qualified candidates.

Status of some bills still in limbo while special session looms

A handful of bills passed by both the state Senate and House of Representatives continue to sit in limbo. Normally, those bills would be signed or vetoed by the governor. Instead, their fate likely lies with the judicial branch. The head of the Legislative Council Service (LCS), the nonpartisan administrative arm of the state Legislature, said he and his staff suggested to lawmakers and the secretary of state that some vetoed bills should actually be chaptered. Chaptering, or printing, the bills is typically the first step to writing them into state statute.

A look at Gov. Martinez’s vetoes

Gov. Susana Martinez is getting attention, to say the least, for her onslaught of vetoes as the legislative session nears a potentially messy end. But the tension between Martinez and state lawmakers started with her early veto of the bill to fund the operations of the Legislature during the session and the interim. It continued towards the end of January, when she vetoed a much-publicized bill to allow for industrial research of hemp. February came and went with no bills headed to Martinez’s desk. But at the end of the first week of March, she rejected a measure to allow teachers to use all of their allotted sick days without absences making a negative impact on their statewide evaluation.

State lawmaker settles lawsuit for $260,000

A New Mexico lawmaker from Truth or Consequences agreed to settle a civil lawsuit alleging her negligence as an employer for $260,000. Republican state Rep. Rebecca Dow, who was elected last November, was accused of negligence when she hired and then promoted Alejandro Hernandez to work with children. Dow owns and operates both the Boys and Girls Club of Sierra County and AppleTree Educational Center. While working for the Boys and Girls Club of Sierra County, Hernandez had unlawful sexual conduct with two boys under his care. Hernandez is currently in jail for those crimes.

Corrales Village Council rejects resolution that would bar aiding in immigration enforcement

The Corrales Village Council voted Tuesday night against a resolution that would have declared the village as immigrant and refugee friendly. The measure failed on a 4-2 vote after more than three hours of public comment. The resolution would have prohibited village officials, including law enforcement, from reporting to federal immigration agents any information about immigrants or refugees without a warrant. Corrales residents both in favor and against the measure packed the council chambers, overflowing into the outer hallway waiting for a chance to speak. Related: ICE enforcement surge makes some ‘live in constant fear’

Many who spoke out against the resolution argued that taking a stance on federal issues, such as immigration, was not appropriate for village officials.

Meet the man peering into the UNM ‘fishbowl’ 10,000 words at a time

An apartment in downtown Chicago overlooking the historic Navy Pier is probably the last place University of New Mexico officials would expect some of the most ardent criticism of their athletics program. But that’s exactly where the shots toward the UNM athletic department are being fired from. Since last November, journalist Daniel Libit has been writing investigative stories about the UNM athletic department on his self-published website NMFishbowl.com. He received probably the most attention yet when he filed an open records lawsuit last week against UNM Foundation arguing that the non-profit organization should be held to the same transparency standards as the university itself. The lawsuit stems from records Libit requested from UNM Foundation as well as the school itself regarding information on the naming rights of WisePies Arena (aka The Pit).

House committee advances bill banning ‘conversion therapy’ for minors

A House panel approved a bill, along party lines, that would ban the use of therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexuality or gender identity. The practice is often referred to as conversion therapy. Senate Bill 121 sponsor Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, who is openly gay, told the House Health and Human Services Committee a personal story about influence from those in power. He said as a child he was “blessed” to have leaders of faith in his life that engaged in conversations of personal identity. “But I also had priest when I was nine-years-old who told me that if I did not become straight, I was going to hell,” Candelaria said.

Heinrich calls for more protection of faith-based community centers

Two U.S. Senators, including one from New Mexico, want a Senate committee to address the high number of threats and attacks across the country against community centers, namely Jewish Community Centers. New Mexico U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, along with Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada wrote a letter requesting a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing about  the high number of bomb threats aimed at religious community centers across the country. “In the first two months of 2017, 100 bomb threats have already occurred, including two in Albuquerque and one in Las Vegas, and have forced the evacuations of hundreds across the country,” the senators wrote. Related: ABQ Jewish Community Center one of over a dozen targeted with bomb threat and ABQ Jewish Community Center again part of wave of bomb threats

The two senators also urged the committee to help move forward a bill they are cosponsing to allocate more money to the Department of Homeland Security, specifically to  protect faith-based community centers. “Faith-based community centers should be sanctuaries and open, inviting places for our citizens, and no American should feel unsafe at these centers,” their letter read.

Feds warn NM producer about cannabis at Cannabis Cup

A letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to organizers of a cannabis festival in Nevada could signal how the Trump administration plans to enforce marijuana laws. Nevada’s U.S. District Attorney sent a letter last week to Duke Rodriguez, CEO of the New Mexico and Arizona based Ultra Health, with concerns that cannabis will be present at the High Times Cannabis Cup. The letter appears to reference communications between the federal office and members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, a tribe in southern Nevada. The event is scheduled to take place on tribal land. In his letter to Rodriguez, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden wrote that tribal members informed his office they would “scale back the event and prohibit the use/distribution of cannabis and cannabis products” at the festival, scheduled to take place this weekend.

Unclear how much state knows about wholesale medical marijuana sales

In New Mexico, lawmakers have debated acceptable uses of medical marijuana and some have questioned if cannabis producers are allowed to have enough medical cannabis to qualify as an “adequate supply” for patients. While politicians and medical cannabis advocates in Santa Fe argue over appropriate plant numbers, getting actual numbers from the agency that governs the program is difficult—despite the fact that producers are required to use specific software to track all transactions. Despite the plethora of debates and discussion, cannabis transaction data from the state is either unavailable or state employees do not know how to access it. In almost every legislative discussion about New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, producers and patients sell their respective claims on how much medical cannabis should be available in the state. Depending on what day and who is speaking, the state could be in a shortage that amounts to a crisis or have such a glut of cannabis that producers have to unload product to each other.