Oct. 21First News: NM High court to consider same-sex marriage

Oct 21, 2013

New Mexico's Supreme Court takes up the marriage equality issue on Wednesday. The high court is being asked to provide a state-wide, binding resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can legally wed. The ACLU of New Mexico says it hopes the justices will issue a writ to resolve all claims on constitutional grounds. A number of county clerks have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying nothing in the state constitution prohibits them from doing so.  All 33 county clerks in New Mexico have petitioned for a state Supreme Court ruling.

The state's Attorney General's office and the Human Services Department have issued a heavily redacted version of the audit that halted Medicaid payments to 15 providers of mental health and substance abuse services. The release came heading into the weekend and is a response to a suit filed by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. State officials had resisted releasing information, saying that doing so jeopardizes the AG's ongoing investigation into the matter. As such, the Attorney General says the full report is exempted from further public disclosure at this time.

Representatives of the Washington-based Afterschool Alliance on Sunday presented the Santa Fe Institute with an award for a Science-Technology-Engineering-Math, or “STEM”-related afterschool program targeting mid-schoolers. The Santa Fe Institute’s Irene Lee says the award goes its to so-called “GUTS” program: *****Lee 1   :17***** Lee says GUTS clubs are prevalent in Santa Fe’s public middle schools and other parts of New Mexico. The rigorous computing program allows middle-schoolers to design and develop test models simulating real-world questions.

At today's meeting of Santa Fe's Finance Committee, there'll be further discussion of providing transportation to and from the Santa Fe Ski Basin.  The North Central Regional Transit District is being asked to assess financing options for such service. The idea has been previously approved by the Public Works Committee and arrives before full city council next week. The Finance Committee will also be discussing a proposed ordinance to establish a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline for City employees to report suspected improprieties being committed by fellow workers or city officers. The ordinance is slated for final review by City Hall in December. 

Instances of foreclosure and mortgages falling into delinquency in Santa Fe have both decreased by one-percent since last year. That according to new statistics today from national real estate data clearinghouse CoreLogic. As of this past August, Santa Fe foreclosures are at two-and-a-half percent slightly above the national average of two-point-three percent.  Loans 90 days or more in arrears are at four-point-four percent.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall visits Northwest News Mexico today to discuss economic development, broadband and energy issues with Navajo Nation and utility officials in the region. One of Udall’s stops is at the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority where he will be updated on its efforts to expand internet access. The Democrat in 2010 helped the Authority secure 32-million dollars in funding for a broadband network that covers more than 15-thousand square miles in the four corners area.

Santa Fe Police are still searching for a hit-and-run driver who ran a stop sign Saturday, striking and overturning an SUV at the intersection of Quapaw and Espanacitas Streets. Police say a 30-year old woman in the struck vehicle is expected to recover from injuries suffered in the crash. Police are looking for the male driver of a gold or brown Oldsmobile Alero or Mercury Sable that was dragging a bumper as he fled the crash.

The use of solitary confinement in New Mexico's prisons is a topic of discussion at the state legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee meetings in the Acoma Pueblo-area this week. The agenda for today’s meeting at the Pueblo and tomorrow’s at the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility in Grants also includes a tour of the women’s lock-up. Additionally, lawmakers will hear about a proposal to extend Medicaid coverage to soon-to-be-released state prison inmates.

The City of Las Cruces plans to sue the state Taxation and Revenue Department over its rejection of the city’s plan to raise the local sales tax. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the city is contending the tax agency’s finding that the City Council-approved last month doesn't conform to state law. The city approved a three-eighths-percent hike in the gross-receipts tax starting in January to offset losses in state funds resulting from new state legislation. The levy- increase would bring in more than four-million dollars by the end of the fiscal year.

The Santa Fe-based Indigenous Language Institute holds a symposium today and tomorrow on motivating youth and children to use their heritage language. The two-day event at Pojoaque Pueblo features seven presentations from prominent Native Americans on involving communities to engage and motivate Native youth to use natural idioms. The Indigenous Language Institute, founded in 1992, serves all tribes and individuals working to revitalize indigenous languages in the Americas.

Weather for Santa Fe – Sunny and dry through much of this week.  Today will be cool with highs only in the mid 50s and overnight lows tonight in the upper 20s. Low 60s for highs thereafter and overnight lows in the mid 30s. A slight chance for precipitation arrives by Friday.