Feb. 18 First News: New Mexico Education Chief to Remain Unconfirmed by State Senate (Listen)

Feb 18, 2014

The New Mexico Senate Rules Committee Monday ensured that the “designee” part of Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera remains in place for the remainder of Governor Susana Martinez's term. The panel tied on a vote to send Skandera's nomination to the Senate Floor, meaning her nomination will not be heard by the full Senate. The Rules committee had earlier rejected a “do-pass” recommendation for the state's embattled education chief. Prior to the votes, Skandera spoke to the Committee: *****021814-Skandera-1 :30***** Senator Clemente Sanchez, a Democrat who voted with Republicans to send Skandera's nomination to the Senate, said education reforms have handcuffed teachers to the point that they're not able to teach.


The Rule Committee today is scheduled to hear the appointment of Ryan Flynn as Governor Martinez's Environment Secretary. Flynn's nomination might also be contentious, as environmentalists are criticizing his support of rules they say allow groundwater pollution by copper mines. Democratic Attorney General Gary King and environmentalists have gone to court to overturn the copper-mining regulations adopted last year by the Water Quality Control Commission. Critics say the rules violate state law prohibiting water contamination above certain standards. The department contends the rules are stringent and protect the environment.


The Senate Finance Committee's proposed budget for the next fiscal year will be soon heard on the Senate Floor. The Senate Finance Committee on Sunday approved the measure, which proposes a six-point-two-billion dollar package, with 17-point-five million appropriated for the Martinez administration's education reforms. Corrales Senator, John Sapien: *****021814-Sapien-1 :31***** Sapien says the Senate Budget bill details some of the proposed education reforms. Sapien's Democratic colleague, Howie Morales of Silver City, says the Senate budget proposal came forward after the House, which usually develops the state's spending plan, deadlocked on House Bill two last week.


The Senate has approved a bill that would allow all New Mexico counties to tax liquor to finance programs for treating and preventing alcoholism. Supporters of the measure said it would be left to counties to decide whether to impose a local liquor excise tax by the equivalent of five cents per drink.. The bill passed the Senate on a 27-14 vote Sunday and goes to the House for consideration. State law currently allows only McKinley County to levy a local tax on liquor for alcohol programs, and supporters said the county has financed services that have reduced alcohol-related deaths. If all 33 counties imposed a liquor tax, it would generate nearly 44 million-dollars.


The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office says a pair of dogs has killed two goats and eight alpacas in the La Puebla area of the County. The New Mexican reports that the alpacas' owner reported seeing two dogs attacking the alpacas early Saturday. According to Sheriff Robert Garcia, the owner of the alpacas shot one of the dogs but the other escaped. Garcia says the same dogs are suspected of killing two goats in Santa Fe County. Garcia says that County Animal Control was able to scan the dead dog's body for a microchip and identify its owner. The sheriff said a citation or a criminal complaint is pending.


Santa Fe Weather: Sunny today with a high near 61. Partly cloudy tonight with a low of 34. Tomorrow, expect Partly sunny skies, breezy and the high 62.