February 13th First News: House Sends Budget Bill Back to Committee (Listen)

Feb 13, 2014

The House is sending a six-billion dollar state budget proposal back to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee for it to try to break a stalemate over state education spending. The budget failed last week, with Republicans contending that it shortchanged Governor Susana Martinez's school proposals. An item on the table is a possible shift of 17-million dollars to fund educational programs overseen by the Public Education Department.

Santa Fe City Councilors have approved ordinances that treat electronic, or vaporized cigarettes as regular cigarettes. The legislation approved by Councilors outlaws the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and prohibit their usage in public spaces covered under the city's existing smoke-free law. The Council's adoption of the two ordinances on e-cigarettes followed public hearings on the matter Wednesday.

State Senators, on a party-line vote, okayed a proposed constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if education should be removed from the Governor's supervision. Democratic Senator Michael Padilla of Albuquerque is sponsor of the proposal, which would reverse action taken during the Richardson administration and establish a state board to govern public education.*****021314-Padilla-2 :24***** Padilla maintains the board approach would avoid turnover in school policies when the state changes governors.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has vetoed legislation that would have imposed an additional 2 percent sales tax on junk food sold on tribal lands. The legislation was aimed at combating high rates of diabetes among tribal members. An adviser to Shelly he supports the idea, but says the legislation isn't clear on how the tax would be enforced and regulated.

The Taos Town Council voted this week to increase the town’s tourism marketing budget by nearly 100-thousand dollars, most of which will be used for promotional media buys in Albuquerque, Denver, and targeted markets in Arizona, California and Texas. The Journal North reports the town's tourism marketing budget for the year will now be greater than a half-million dollars. The increase was made possible after a double digit increase last year in the lodger’s tax. Town officials say the added revenue will promote Taos “as a top travel destination in print, online, and with additional television advertising.”

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas has been confirmed by the Senate. The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm the long-time officer as the state's 21st police chief. The Senate Rules Committee voted earlier to send his appointment to the full Senate after a short hearing, at which no questions about recent state police officer shootings came up. Kassetas replaces retired chief Robert Schilling

Santa Fe Weather: Sunny today, with a high near 58. Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 33. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny, with a high near 59. Right now it's ____.