July 25 First News: Senators pass loan bill that could aid some 46,000 NM undergrads. (listen)

Both of New Mexico's senators were among the majority of their colleagues voting to pass the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. That will save some $1400 for each of New Mexico's 46,000 undergraduates. Back on July 1st, the interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The bill's provisions are retro-active, resetting the rate to 3.8%.  Interest rates will be tied to the 10-year Treasury bill plus a percentage for the life of the loans. The bill now heads to the US House.

Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar says the two Santa Fe men suing over her refusal to issue them a marriage license are not going about it the right way. Alexander Hanna and Yon Hudson are seeking to have the state Supreme Court order Salazar to issue the license.  Today's New Mexican reports Salazar as saying that court can't dictate to an elected county official and the men should have instead brought the matter to state district court. That response is bolstered by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King who says the high court does not have the authority to order a county official to take a specific action.

The City of Santa Fe is pushing back against a report by credit rating agency, Moody's Investors Service, saying its data is in error. Moody's had said it's considering a downgrade of the city's bond rating, citing pension liabilities for the Public Employee Retirement Association. In rebuttal, Santa Fe's Finance Director says it pays its contributions to PERA in full on a regular basis, in accordance with contribution requirements computed by PERA. The general obligation ratings for the City of Santa Fe are “AA+” by Fitch and “AA” by Standard & Poor’s, both of which were recently reaffirmed.

State Auditor Hector Balderas has appealed to a state district court in order to obtain a copy of the Human Services Department audit indicating possible Medicaid fraud by providers of mental health and substance abuse services. HSD had previously been given a judge's order to make the documents available this past Monday but they did not comply. Today's Albuquerque Journal says Balderas has now asked for a hearing to determine disclosure responsibilities. HSD has said that giving the documents to the state auditor could jeopardize the investigation of alleged fraud.

A domestic violence incident prompted a SWAT team response in Santa Fe Wednesday.  George W. Smith is a former police officer from South Carolina who has been under electronic monitoring while awaiting trial on robbery of two Santa Fe pharmacies back in December. His wife is an assistant district attorney who turned Smith over to authorities upon seeing surveillance video of the robberies.  On Wednesday, while Smith was checking in to the electronic monitoring office, his wife proceeded to report she had been assaulted the night before. Smith fled to his home where SWAT team members used tear gas to bring him out.

Weather for Santa Fe – A 50% chance for scattered thunderstorms this afternoon under partly sunny skies and highs near 80. Precipitation probability falls to 30% tonight with lows near 60.

Partly sunny Friday with highs again near 80 degrees.