Given the fire hose of news from Washington, D.C. every day, New Mexicans can be forgiven if they miss stories about environmental overhauls from the White House and funding mishaps in Congress. But ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to climate-changing methane emissions, less money for public lands and parks or the intergenerational impacts of mercury exposure. At NM Political Report, we’re continuing to track the federal changes that affect New Mexicans. Here are a few of the most important issues that popped up recently. Udall: Climate change ‘moral test of our age’ At the end of last month, Congress let the Land and Water Conservation Fund lapse.
Laura Gutierrez has been trying to get public records from Albuquerque Public Schools for more than a year. In 2014 a school law enforcement officer allegedly used force against her autistic son. APS opened an investigation and soon cleared the officer of any wrongdoing. Gutierrez wants to see all the documents from this investigation. In the fall and winter of 2015, Gutierrez filed four public records requests with APS for the district’s internal investigation of the officer, an employee of the school district.
This week, a bill to terminate law enforcement jobs at the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management was referred to a subcommittee in the House Committee on Agriculture. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced the bill. If passed, it would eliminate the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit, which handles everything from public safety and criminal investigations to seizing illegal drugs grown in forests, curtailing smuggling and closing drug labs on public lands. The bill would also eliminate and the BLM’s Office of Law Enforcement, which employs more than 250 rangers and special agents. The bill would cease funding for federal law enforcement on federal lands later this year.
If someone commits a crime in New Mexico, state law says that law enforcement must investigate it. But the Albuquerque city attorney’s office says that doesn’t mean the investigation has to be thorough. This interpretation of state law coming after an accident that left two people with permanent brain damage has local attorney Antonia Roybal-Mack up in arms.
“What they’re saying is if they sit there and eat Cheetos, as long as they show up, that’s all they have to do,” she said. Roybal-Mack represents six family members who were in a van on the evening of June 7, 2012 that T-boned a car that ran a red light. The front passenger in the van, Betty Melendez, has testified that she has no memory of her life before the accident.