Pot proposal advances in House but faces uncertain future

Adults over 21 would be able to legally buy, possess and smoke marijuana under a bill that survived its first hearing Saturday in the state House of Representatives. The Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-1 to advance the bill without a recommendation. Sponsored by Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, House Bill 89 moves ahead to the House Judiciary Committee. His proposal would tax and regulate recreational marijuana, as is done in eight other states, including neighboring Colorado. It would earmark 40 percent of taxes from cannabis sales for education and designate other proceeds to government programs.

But don’t spark up yet.

New Mexico Legislature, Congress diverging on gun sales checks

A House committee on Saturday advanced a bill that would expand required background checks to include most gun purchases in New Mexico. After a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-1 along party lines in favor of House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos. The committee’s action mirrored that of a Senate panel that last week approved an identical proposal, Senate Bill 48. While the New Mexico Legislature is moving toward expanding mandatory background checks, Congress is heading in the other direction. The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted 235-180 to scuttle an Obama-era rule requiring background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities.

Education chief pushes change in teacher evaluations

State Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said Monday she will push for legislation to reduce the amount of weight that student test scores play in teacher evaluations. Skandera’s announcement represents a step back — albeit a small one — from her long-running push to tie teacher effectiveness to student test scores. It received a mixed response from leaders of one state teachers’ union. Skandera said she is responding to input that the Public Education Department received during a statewide listening tour to solicit feedback on what the state can do to prepare for implementing the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act guidelines, which go into effect next summer. “We wanted to be responsive.

Bill would force internet devices to filter pornography, other ‘obscene’ material

A New Mexico legislator is getting on board with an effort to force manufacturers of electronics that connect to the internet to install filtering devices that would block online “obscenity.”

State Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, told NM Political Report he plans to sponsor a bill that would do so in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. The bill, called the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, is backed by a group attempting to introduce identical bills in the legislatures of at least 23 other states this coming year. Nine state legislators and 11 lobbyists are listed as members of the national group, which bears the same name as the legislation, according to the group’s website. Gallegos said his previous attempts at curbing human trafficking got him interested in sponsoring this bill. But a look at an unfiled draft of Gallegos’ legislation shows that it goes much farther than just dealing with human trafficking.

In budget session, some lawmakers will push against abortion

Rhetoric on abortion heated up in 2015 after anti-abortion advocates leaked videos of Planned Parenthood officials and Robert Dear violently attacked a clinic in Colorado Springs. But whether the emotional debate comes to bills at the legislative session later this month and next isn’t yet known. Measures impacting abortion rights face odds this year because the upcoming session is focused on the state budget. Gov. Susana Martinez has the sole authority to allow any legislation not related to the state budget to be heard this year. So far, only state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, has confirmed publicly that she asked Martinez to allow the Legislature to hear a bill that would ban abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Three strikes, ethics and pot: A look at pre-filed legislation

When the legislative session begins on Tuesday, Jan. 19, NM Political Report will be on hand for wall-to-wall coverage through adjournment at noon on Feb. 18. And, actually, legislation is already starting to be introduced. Pre-filing of legislation began on Dec.

Roundhouse should scrap discrimination bill and get to work

Algernon D’Ammassa is a writer, theatre artist, and founder of the Deming Zen Center. The second session of New Mexico’s 52nd legislature will begin on January 19, and our elected rascals have quite a bit of work to do. New Mexico had the highest unemployment rate in the nation last month: 6.8 percent. Household incomes are among the lowest while our numbers on poverty and child hunger are among the highest. Violent crime is also high, hardly surprising considering these other statistics.

Martinez names Chandler, two others to benches

Former District Attorney Matt Chandler will be a district court judge in the Ninth Judicial District Court just months after being rejected for a high profile position as a University of New Mexico regent. Gov. Susana Martinez announced the appointments of Chandler and two others to fill judicial vacancies on Wednesday afternoon. Chandler has had an up and down couple of years. Chandler announced in early 2014 that he would resign to start his own local practice, and “pursue new endeavors in the private sector.” But it was his work in politics that led to the Senate rejecting his move back to government work in the form of a Board of Regents seat at the state’s largest university.

Far from heaven: Fatalities, crime and rents rise alongside oil production

© New Mexico Political Report, 2015. Contact editor@nmpoliticalreport.com for info on republishing. Part two in a series of two. Click here for part one. On a two-lane New Mexico state road, the number of heavy commercial trucks and semis roaring southeast between the villages of Loving and Jal tops 200 in under an hour.

Dark Gold: New Mexico’s oil patch grapples with industry impacts

© New Mexico Political Report, 2015. Contact editor@nmpoliticalreport.com for info on republishing. This story is part one of a two-part series. Read part two here. Eddy County, NM, was a sleepy, low-key place when retired teacher Vickie Connally and her family moved to their little ranch in Loving south of Carlsbad years ago.