February 14th First News: Senate Conservation Committee Stalls on Gila River Legislation (Listen)

Feb 14, 2014

A measure that would guide New Mexico's management of the Gila River in southwest New Mexico failed to clear the Senate Conservation Committee on a 5-5 tie vote. Santa Fe Senator Peter Wirth's legislation would require the Interstate Stream Commission to spend federal funds on non-diversion projects. But many local residents want to tap the Gila. Don Staley is from the town of Gila:*****0214-Staley-1 :21***** However, Beth Bardwell of the New Mexico Audubon Society sees the Gila from a different perspective:*****0214-Bardwell-1 :18***** The Stream Commission has a year-end deadline to decide on an approach to managing the Gila.

One day after the City of Santa Fe banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, the House unanimously followed-suit Thursday by passing a bill that does the same for the state, which now goes to the Senate for consideration. The measure would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18, just as minors are restricted from buying cigarettes made of tobacco. Santa Fe City Councilors acted on the issue on Wednesday. E-cigarettes use battery power to vaporize a nicotine-based liquid. More than 20 states ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors.

The State House has approved a measure to prevent former legislators and cabinet secretaries from working as paid lobbyists for two years after they leave their positions. Supporters of the proposal sponsored by Representative Emily Kane say the current "revolving door" practice undermines public trust in government because it gives the appearance that former public officials are cashing in on the connections they developed while on the job. Kane, an Albuquerque Democrat, notes there are 26 former legislators and cabinet secretaries currently working as lobbyists.

Drunken drivers with at least four convictions would spend more time in prison under a proposal that's passed the House. Supporters contend tougher penalties are needed for repeat offenders, but opponents said more jail time won't deter the worst drunken drivers. The House approved the proposal 57-6 on Thursday and sent it to the Senate. Currently, the maximum penalty is three years in prison for seven or more convictions. The proposal by Republican Representative Vickie Perea of Belen would provide for four years in prison for a seventh conviction and 12 years imprisonment for eight or more convictions.

A statewide survey of teachers and administrators is underway to document and analyze how teachers and other educators view the teaching and learning conditions at their school. The anonymous survey by Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning—or “TELL” New Mexico--seeks to provide data for all stakeholders to help them decide on policies and practices that will improve student achievement and teacher retention. The TELL New Mexico Partners represent an array of organizations from across the state brought together through the University of New Mexico.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today, with a high near 58. Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 35. Tomorrow: Sunny, with a high near 64.