States set plans for declining Colorado River flows

This week, Congress passed a bill directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior to implement an agreement worked out by states that rely on water from the Colorado River. The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act easily passed both chambers and now awaits a signature from the president. The plan acknowledges that flows of the Colorado River—which supplies drinking water to 40 million people and irrigates 5.5 million acres—are declining. And it represents efforts by the states, cities, water districts, tribes and farmers to make changes that will keep two important reservoirs from dropping too low. Had they not come to an agreement, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would have imposed restrictions on water use.

SOS rejects petition for referendum to reverse background check law

For the second time, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver rejected a petition to take a gun background check law to the voters. House Republican leaders hoped to use a voter referendum to overturn a law passed this year, requiring background checks for most gun sales in the state of New Mexico. New Mexico generally does not allow for voter referendums. But the state constitution allows, under limited circumstances, for voters to attempt to overturn a newly passed law. Toulouse Oliver said the current proposal does not meet those limited circumstances. She cites the state constitution in saying to determine if the referendum qualifies, it must “[bear] a valid, reasonable relationship to the preservation of public peace, health or safety.”

Toulouose Oliver said she “underwent the process of carefully examining the legislative history, the contemporaneous declarations of the legislature and the conditions sought to be remedied by [the law].”

In March, Toulouse Oliver also listed a number of technical objections to the Republican call for a referendum.

Killing migratory birds, even unintentionally, has been a crime for decades. Not anymore

This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast. Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters. But in part due to President Donald Trump’s interior secretary nominee, David Bernhardt, whose confirmation awaits a Senate vote, the wildlife cop is no longer on the beat.

Who is running for Senate? For CD3?

Just about two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced that he would not run for re-election. Nearly as soon as he announced his decision, a chain reaction began.  Speculation on who would replace him—and who would run to fill the spots of those eyeing Udall’s seat. Note: This story was sent out Tuesday as part of the NM Political Report Elections Roundup. Sign up for the free email.

Interpretation of updated medical cannabis law could allow all inmates access

Just days after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed broad changes to New Mexico’s medical cannabis into law, there are already questions surrounding whether inmates serving out sentences are allowed to use medical cannabis. Senate Bill 406, which the governor signed last week, included protections against job termination and loss of child custody for merely being a patient in the program. A lot of those protections are already in practice, but not written into law—like whether those on probation or parole can be medical cannabis patients. According to a written Department of Corrections policy, probationers or parolees with a valid medical cannabis card will get a pass of sorts for testing positive for the substance. Now, the law explicitly states that those on probation or parole are allowed to use medical cannabis.