March 9, 2016

Odds and Ends: Judge says no to new food benefit rules

Joe Gratz


We’re back after taking Tuesday night off to finish up a recap on filing day. Here are some stories you may have missed, plus what we wrote today.

—Federal judge shoots down state food benefit rules.

U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales ruled against the latest attempt by the state to impose new work rules on those who receive food benefits, or SNAP.

The rules the state imposed required 80 hours per month of approved work activity for able-bodied adults from 18-49 if they wanted to continue to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months

“We are pleased that unemployed adults will not face the illegal loss of food assistance in addition to the economic hardship that many are already facing in New Mexico,” Sovereign Hager, Staff Attorney at the Center on Law and Poverty, said in a statement. “The state must bring the administration of the food assistance program into compliance with the law before opting to implement a three month limit for unemployed adults. We hope that the state will take this time to fix program errors and ensure that any requirements provide meaningful opportunities for unemployed New Mexicans.”

NM Political Report reached out to a spokesman for the state Human Services Department for a reaction but did not receive one by press time.

—Uber, Lyft legal again in New Mexico.

The legal limbo of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft is over, after Gov. Susana Martinez signed a law into effect that will impose rules for the services.

Martinez characterized it as an anti-DWI law.

“If you’ve had a drink, you should never get behind the wheel. By signing this legislation, we are providing New Mexicans with more options to hail a safe ride, and that alone makes this an important bill,” Martinez said. “Stopping drunk drivers continues to be a top priority of my administration, and I’ll keep doing everything in my power to keep them off our roads and protect our families.”

This is welcome news for Uber, which can use it. The company is under fire for how it responds to allegations of rape and sexual assault by drivers through its customer service portal.

—The New Mexico Court of Appeals is going on the road. The appeals court will hold a hearing at Laguna-Acoma High School on Thursday.

There will be two hour-long arguments in front of a panel of three appeals court judges on a case where a man from Albuquerque is appealing his conviction on drug charges.

At issue, according to the press release, are “questions of law, including whether a police officer properly detained the defendant and seized drugs during an arrest in April 2012.”

Students watching the case will be able to ask questions of the judges afterward.

—Things we wrote today.

Gov signed the REAL ID bill, so what’s next?: You know she signed the bill, but we took a look forward at what comes next.

Gary Johnson, again: ‘Trump’s a p***y’: He just can’t help himself and is trying to bring himself to Trump’s attention by going down to Trump’s level.

Eight bills Gov. Martinez vetoed: A bill on DWI interlocks, a bill to revert some lottery funds to the scholarship fund and six more bills fell prey to Martinez’s veto pen. We run them down.