February 11th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

In light of the current weak commodity price environment, Freeport-McMoRan is taking further immediate actions to accelerate its debt reduction plans and enhance shareholder value through pursuing asset sales and joint venture transactions. Several initiatives are currently being advanced, including an evaluation of alternatives for the oil and gas business as well as several transactions involving certain of its mining assets.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department has been re-accredited and licensed by Main Street America™ to support the New Mexico MainStreet Program for 2016. New Mexico MainStreet works to provide participating local Main Street programs with technical assistance, resources, and networking opportunities to support revitalization and redevelopment in traditional and historic downtown districts throughout the state.

In legislative action: the House of Representative passed a bill to allow law enforcement officers to return to work after they have retired. House Bill 171 will allow local law enforcement agencies to fill staffing shortages while they recruit and train new officers. It passed tonight by a bipartisan vote of 38 to 29.  The bill would allow most law enforcement agencies to rehire retired certified law enforcement officers in patrol positions. Smaller law enforcement agencies would be authorized to rehire retired officers to any position.

Today, members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) met with state legislators in honor of DWI Awareness Day at the Roundhouse. New Mexico has some of the weakest DWI laws in the nation. Recent studies show that the state ranks 33rd in overall strictness of DWI laws and ranks 49th in strength of criminal penalties for DUI compared to the rest of the country.

The House of Representatives passed legislation to preserve access to out-of-state medical care for New Mexicans on a vote of 34 to 27. The bill, House Bill 270, would clarify New Mexico law regarding complaints filed against out-of-state medical providers. A recent court case has caused confusion among out-of-state medical providers over their legal exposure when providing treatment to New Mexico patients. Currently, it’s not clear whether New Mexico tort law applies to malpractice claims arising from medical treatment received out-of-state. As a result, out-of-state medical providers may be reluctant to treat New Mexico patients because of concerns over increased legal liability.

The House of Representatives approved a proposed constitutional amendment to establish an independent state ethics commission. House Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines and co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, passed on a vote of 50 to 10 this evening. Passage of this resolution would give New Mexico voters the option to adopt this commission in the next election.  The proposed commission would review complaints made against public officials, employees, government contractors and lobbyists. It would also have the authority to initiate inquiries and issue subpoenas. Importantly, it would be able to review rules governing ethical conduct and provide guidance to public officials through the issuance of advisory opinions.  The proposed commission would oversee the legislative and executive branches of state government. The judicial branch of state government has its own Judicial Standards Commission, and it is not included in the legislation.

The House of Representatives passed a bill to exempt public school and road projects from current prevailing wage requirements. The bill, House Bill 200, passed by a 35 to 32 vote. The bill directs the Labor Relations Division of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to conduct a field survey and collect other information and set prevailing and fringe benefit rates based on that review. The bill would also cap prevailing wage and fringe benefit rates Federal Davis-Bacon Act rates. Finally, it would exempt all projects and contracts for public roads, public highways and educational facilities from the Public Works Minimum Wage Act.

 

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February 10th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Beginning in August 2016, Glendale Community College (GCC) in Arizona will offer a new, highly innovative pathway for students to earn Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology due to a partnership with Western New Mexico University.

Even though New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has cleared Border Area Mental Health Services of Silver City of Medicaid fraud, the options for the organization’s future remain uncertain.  Balderas announced his decision Monday when he said a forensic auditing firm his office hired to investigate the claims had cleared BAMHS and nine other mental health providers of fraud.

In sports action: the Lady ‘Stangs Basketball pulled out an 81-77 win against Northern New Mexico College on Monday night.  Juniors Desiree Smith and Deandra Williams reached season highs with 21 points scored, and sophomore Jade Botelho tied the high 21 points to reach a career high during the night.  The Lady ‘Stangs are now 8-15 for the season.  WNMU will play at Colorado Christian on Friday at 5 pm.

The WNMU men’s golf team remained in second after the final round of the Edward Jones’ Cactus Thraw at the Lonestar Golf Club on Monday.  WNMU will return to action February 22nd and 23rd when they compete at the St. Mary’s Invitations in San Antonio, Texas.

Freshman Tiana Salazar was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week on Wednesday.  The softball team will compete in the Dixie State Tournament this Friday through Sunday.

In legislative action: First Aid & Electives for High School Grads, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia), unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday. This bill would require schools to teach students how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), use an automated external defibrillator (AED) and perform the Heimlich maneuver for choking victims. The training would become part of health-education graduation course requirements.

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February 9th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

In sports action: after a close first half against Colorado Mesa University on Friday night, the Mustangs lost 83-61 during the second half of the game.   Despite being tied with less than two seconds left in the game Saturday night, Westminster shooter Jordan Prior shot a three-quarter court shot to beat the buzzer and claim a win over the Mustangs 74-71.  Western will play at Colorado Christian this Friday and Colorado School of Mines on Saturday beginning at 7 pm both nights.

The Lady Mustangs lost to Colorado Mesa University on Friday night 55-43 and, despite a late game rally to close the gap in the fourth quarter against Westminster College on Saturday, lost 66-60.  The Lady ‘Stangs are now 7-15 for the season and 5-12 in the RMAC.  They host Northern New Mexico tonight beginning at 6 pm.

The WNMU softball teams took a pair of wins on Friday at the Desert Stinger: 4-1 over Augustana, and 3-1 over CSU-Monterey Bay.  Despite strong play on Friday, the softball team lost both matches on Saturday, falling to Northwest Nazarene by a 6-2 score, and losing in the fifth inning to Azusa Pacific 9-0.  On Sunday, Concordia University won a close 4-3 game against Western, leaving the Lady Mustangs 3-7 for the season so far.  WNMU will compete in the Dixie State Tournament this Friday through Sunday.

The WNMU tennis teams played their opening weekend.  The men’s team is currently 2-1 for the season, while the women begin the season 0-3 despite leading after doubles on Sunday.

Zika virus disease has been in the news for several weeks now and has many individuals concerned. Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, though there also have been reports of transmission through sexual contact. The disease can cause fever, rash, muscle aches, joint pain and red eyes. Zika virus disease has also been linked to birth defects, including microcephaly and other poor birth outcomes in some women infected during their pregnancy. There have been no known cases in New Mexico to date.

In legislative action: Senator Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) has introduced SB 242- l this session on late-term abortions that bans the barbaric and inhuman practice of elective abortions after five months until the day of birth in New Mexico. The late-term abortion ban bill has bipartisan support in both the New Mexico Senate and House.

The House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to protect employees of the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) while performing their duties to safeguard New Mexico’s children. House Bill 142, sponsored by Reps. Jimmie Hall and Doreen Gallegos, passed the House by a unanimous vote of 67 to 0.

Legislation clarifying regulations to allow ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, to operate in New Mexico passed the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 58 to 8. House Bill 168 is sponsored by Rep. Monica Youngblood.

Today, a bill to include lifesaving skills instruction into the health curriculum for New Mexico students passed the House Floor by a unanimous 67-0 vote. House Bill 104 is sponsored by Rep. Terry McMillan.

Yesterday a bill that would require certain convicted felons to serve at least 85% of their prison sentences passed the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee on a 4-3 vote. The bill is sponsored by Reps. John Zimmerman and Alonzo Baldonado.

Senate Democrats John Sapien and William Soules, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee, voted to table HB 67, which would have ensured New Mexico students could read at grade level before advancing to the fourth grade.

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February 8th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Mimbres Region Arts Council announced their winners for its annual Chocolate Fantasia, held this past Saturday in downtown Silver City.  Winners for the category of sites/destination included Diane’s Restaurant, Raven’s Nest, Encore, Insurance First, and Seedboat Gallery.  Winners for the Chocolate Category included The Jumping Cactus, Silver City Food Co-op, Mary and Julie Baumhover, Cheryl Howell from Encore, Insurance First, Diane’s Restaurant, and Star Chocolatier Professional Chef.

After a four-year absence from Grant County, Henry Torres announces his intention to seek the Republican nomination for Grant County Commissioner District 3.  Torres, who returned to Grant County in November 2014, previously served two terms on the Grant County Commission from 2001 through 2008.

In legislative action: Senate Bill 191, the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Assisted Treatment Bill, which will be presented in the Senate at 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon, addresses the issue of New Mexico’ drug overdose death rates, which have more than tripled since 1990.  The sponsoring Senators urged the Senate Public Affairs Committee to pass legislation requiring the Department of Health to post opioid overdose prevention information on its website; requiring certain health insurers to provide access to opioids with abuse-deterrent properties; and requiring the Secretary of Corrections to consider using medication-assisted treatment for persons under the supervision of the Corrections Department.

A bill to amend the New Mexico Hate Crimes Act to include law enforcement officers passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 58 to 4.  HB 95 would add law enforcement officers to the list of protected classes included in the Hate Crimes Act. The bill would add more time to the sentences of individuals convicted of committing violent crimes against law enforcement officers if the crime was proven to be motivated by hate. The first conviction would result in one additional year added to the person’s sentence, and individuals could see an additional two years added to their sentences for a second offense.

The New Mexico House of Representatives passed the FY2017 budget on a bipartisan 38-31 vote.  Ensuring New Mexico’s families are safe and protected is a top priority this session. The Department of Corrections will see an increase of $12.1 million, and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will receive $5.1 million. The additional funding will aid the recruitment and retention of officers. DPS will receive an additional $1.2 million to process the existing backlog of untested rape kits in the state and $600,000 to establish a centralized database for criminal records.  The state’s children deserve a world-class education. This budget also increases funding to public education by $31.2 million and provides $7.3 million for key early childhood programs, which includes $3 million for prekindergarten. It allocates a $2 million increase for K-3 Plus, pre-K and early reading programs.  The Children, Youth and Families Department also receives an increase of $6.1 million to protect neglected and abused children and to hire more social workers.  To help grow jobs in the state, the budget allocates a total of $8 million to support the Economic Development Department’s Job Training Incentive Program. It also authorizes $1.25 million for the creation of a rapid workforce development program within the Department of Workforce Solutions.

 

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February 5th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

A recently released poll conducted by Third Eye Strategies for the Center for Civic Policy shows that while New Mexicans are divided on many issues, they come together in opposition to imposing a new sales tax on food.  Data from the poll shows that four-fifths (80%) of registered voters oppose taxing food and just 15% support it. When couched as part of a broader effort to lower the sales tax on all goods, opposition stays strong (62%) while support comes in at just 29%. Voters in all income groups oppose it similarly.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that $150 million of funding is available for the Conservation Stewardship Program, and ag producers need to submit their applications to their local USDA Service Center by the March 31st deadline.  The Conservation Stewardship Program is UDSA’s largest conservation program and New Mexico consistently ranks in the top 5 nationwide very year for acres obligated under the program.

Denver-based company Healthgrades has awarded both Presbyterian Hospital and University of New Mexico Hospital their 2016 Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award — an award that places both hospitals in the top 5 percent for clinical care in the country.

New Mexico teachers and some administrators at various levels would see minimum salaries increase under a pared-down proposal that cleared a Senate committee Wednesday despite objections about the push being an unfunded mandate.  The Senate Education Committee advanced the measure following a debate that centered on evaporating revenue projections for the next fiscal year.

In legislative action: the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee today voted to move Senate Bill 191: Opioid Abuse Prevention and Assisted Treatment forward. The bill’s sponsors opted for a non-traditional presentation during yesterday’s hearing and demonstrated how one aspect of the Bill could be one step closer to helping solve New Mexico’s high rates of prescription drug abuse. New Mexico’s drug overdose death rate has been one of the highest in the nation for most of the last two decades. New Mexico’s death rate has more than tripled since 1990.  Senate Bill 191 will now move to the Senate Corporations Committee for a hearing next week. The House version of the same bill, House Bill 241 will be heard in the House Business and Employment Committee next week as well.

A New Mexico State Senator is trying for the third time legislation to end the diversion of taxpayer dollars to pay for general operating expenses at Spaceport America.  Senator Lee Cotter maintains that voters in the two counties supported an increase in their gross receipts tax to go towards repaying the debt for the construction of the Spaceport—which lies in Sierra County—over 20 years. But now he says they’re paying more.

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February 4th, 2016: Grant County Concert Presents Hits & Grins

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The Grant County Community Concert Association is pleased to present Hits &Grins at the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theater on February 2nd at 7 pm.  HitNashville songwriters Steve Dean, Victoria Venier and Broadcast Hall of Famer Bill Whyte serve up a mix of comedy and song.  Hits & Grins uses a unique instrumentation including gandolin, ganjo, cajon and more in presenting great stories, hit songs and loads of laughs.  Admission is $20 for adult non-subscribers.  Students to age 17 accompanied by an adult ticket holder are admitted free,  This concert is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Tickets can be purchased at Blackwell’s Antiques or Western Stationers in Silver City.  For further information and subscription or ticket purchases, go to www.gcconcerts.org or call 575-538-5862.

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February 4th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Three Mustang Football players were named to the USA College Football All-American list on Friday.  Senior Larry Young II and Junior Zachary Andrews-Worline received second-team honors, and Senior Mitch Glassman earned an honorable mention.

Luna County staff recently finished a 50-week Risk Awareness Program designed to help protect county employees and citizens on courthouse property and to reduce the frequency and severity of claims.  The county was given two awards for achieving a positive claim trend and for five years of successfully completing the Risk Awareness Program.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, discussed the decision to open all ground combat units to women with U.S. Department of Defense officials during a committee hearing today. The hearing comes after the Department of Defense announced the decision to lift restrictions on combat positions for women.

In legislative action: bipartisan legislation to significantly reduce an employee’s workers’ compensation benefit when the employee’s death or injury resulted from being drunk or high on the job passed the House by a 55-6 vote. Currently, individuals are eligible for 90 percent of their compensation if drugs or alcohol are a contributing factor to the disabling incident. This legislation would allow for that amount to be reduced from anywhere between 90 to 10 percent, depending on the degree to which the worker’s impairment contributed to the injury.

The House of Representatives passed Bipartisan legislation today to protect victims of sexual abuse and assault from their abusers. House Bill 27, also known as “Rachael’s Law,” would create a new section in the Family Violence Protection Act to courts to grant permanent restraining orders to victims of rape and sexual assault. It would allow judges to base their decision to grant the order on the evidence and facts used to convict the offender, sparing victims the ordeal of having to face their abusers in court. The bill would also allow another person to appear on behalf of the victim.

Legislation to protect children from sexual predators who use their position of authority to prey on their victims passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 63-0.  The bill would remove the current requirement that an injury result an incident of abuse in order for an adult to be charged with criminal sexual contact of a minor. It would also align the victim age ranges defined in the criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact statutes.  The legislation clarifies that all offenders who commit criminal sexual contact or criminal sexual penetration will be held accountable for their actions by eliminating the defined list of offenders from the statute.  If passed, prosecutors also would no longer need to prove that an individual expressly stated or leveraged their authority over to the victim in order to be convicted of criminal sexual contact with a child.

Legislation to ensure all New Mexico students make it to class passed the House Education Committee by a vote of 7-5. The bill, HB 240, is sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Hall It would establish programs to prevent truancy, and it would also allow driver’s licenses of habitually truant students to be suspended.  he bill would require school districts and charter schools to implement an early warning system that would identify students who are either habitually truant or at risk of dropping out. The early warning system would notify parents when their student has three or more absences. The proposal would also require the student and parents to meet with a truancy prevention team to develop an attendance plan when the student has five or more absences.

Kay Papen will be presenting Senate Bill 191: Opioid Abuse Prevention and Assisted Treatment, which addresses this critical issue. SB 191 will be presented to the Senate Public Affairs Committee urging the Committee to pass legislation requiring the Dept. of Health to post opioid overdose prevention information on its website, requiring certain health insurers to provide coverage for abuse-deterrent opioids, and requiring the Secretary of Corrections to consider using medication-assisted treatment for persons under the supervision of the Corrections Department.

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February 3rd, 2016: Local Headlines

Here is a look at today’s headlines: 2-3-16

Early this morning, local law enforcement responded to a shooting in Silver Ctiy in the 2200 block of Cactus Street.   Upon arrival, the authorities determined that a 23 year old man had been shot twice. The man has since been flown to an El Paso hospital for treatment, listed in critical condition.  The man reported he did not know who had shot him and the police are investigating.  If you have any information in the case, please call the Silver City Police Department.

The Silver Schools are preparing early for the test opt-out deadline requirements. Parents will be able to opt out their children from testing for both the Standard Based Assessment and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, if the opt out happens by Feb. 29th.  The testing weeks this year are April 4 through May 13 for the PARCC and March 7 through March 25 for SBA.  The Cobre District does not plan to have an opt-out deadline for this year’s spring testing.

Interesting highlights from the current session underway in Santa Fe.  proposed constitutional amendment aimed at reforming New Mexico’s bail bond system cleared the state Senate on a 29-9 vote Tuesday.  The measure now heads to the House for consideration, where a similar measure has yet to make it to the floor for a vote. If approved by lawmakers, the question of whether to give judges the discretion to deny bail to dangerous defendants would be put before voters during the general election in November.

In Silver City this Saturday, the loved Chocolate Fantasia is planned. To get tickets contact the Mimbres Region Arts Council. The event will be from 11 to 4 and participants will be able to indulge in handmade chocolates from many venues.

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February 2nd, 2016: Chocolate Fantasia This Saturday

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Chocolate Fantasia 2016 – Chocolate Fantasia Around the World


SILVER CITY, NM – The Mimbres Region Arts Council’s Chocolate Fantasia takes on a distinctly international “flavor” with this year’s theme—Chocolate Fantasia Around the World. Mark your calendar now for the annual pre-Valentine’s Day chocolate extravaganza, CHOCOLATE FANTASIA. Saturday, February 6, 2016 11a.m.-4 p.m.in downtown Silver City.

Travel the world without leaving Silver City as local shops and galleries transform downtown into a global village. Experience the creativity and whimsy of Silver City as you stroll the historic district with your loved ones, sampling 20 gourmet chocolates inspired by exotic locales. Tickets are $25 for 20 individual pieces of chocolate from over 30 Chocolate Stops. Chocolate Fantasia always delivers many surprises, so keep your eyes peeled for site-specific events, games, music, and children’s activities throughout the tasting area.

“This is one of the most fun events we have,” says downtown business owner Jeff Hawley, owner of the Raven’s Nest Boutique and Gallery, “and it’s great for business too.” Chocolate Stops open at 11 a.m. and stay open until 4:00 p.m. Event maps and empty candy boxes ($2.00 each for collecting your chocolates so you can save some for later!) will be available at Chocolate Fantasia Headquarters, The Family Karate Center, at 416 N. Bullard Street, open at 10 a.m.  Don’t forget to check out the Chocolate Fantasia merchandise also available at HQ.

A distinguished panel of local citizens will be judging the chocolates and host sites throughout the day in a number of categories. The ever-popular People’s Choice Awards is back again as well, so ticket holders can vote on the back of each ticket after all 20 chocolates have been collected. Awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Little Toad Creek Brewery, 200 N Bullard, at 4:30 pm, directly following the event. All are welcome and encouraged to attend the awards event.

Chocolate Fantasia is a delicious way to spend a day with your sweetheart or family!  Tickets make great Valentine’s Day gifts! Come for the day or stay the weekend. We guarantee a truly delectable visit. Contact the MRAC office. Chocolate Fantasia tickets traditionally sell out so purchase yours early.

 

For more information, tickets or the day’s events, call MRAC at 575-538-2505, or visit www.mimbresarts.org.

 

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February 2nd, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Town of Hurley officially posted the names of candidates for the upcoming Hurley Municipal Election to be held March 1st.  For the office of Councilor, four year term: Joseph E. Stevens, David N. Byington, Raul E. Salcido Jr., Richard R. Maynes, Rodolfo Montoya Pena, and Coy R. Lopez.  For the office of Municipal Judge, four year term: David J. Ramos.

Glenwood Ranger District personnel plan to burn slash piles around the Forest Service administrative site beginning Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 and continuing through mid-February. Smoke may linger at night and early morning in Glenwood and along portions of Hwy 180 during this time. Please drive with caution through this area.

More than 40 re-enactors from across the country will travel to Columbus for the Raid Day Centennial co-sponsored by the Village of Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Historical Society, Pancho Villa State Park, and the First Aero Squadron Foundation. This historic commemoration begins 10 a.m. Saturday, March 12, with a parade on the last 3-mile trek for the Cabalgata of its 341-mile trip that starts Feb. 27 from the town of Guerrero, Chihuahua Mexico.

In legislative action:  legislation that would give judges access to the full criminal histories of violent repeat offenders passed the House of Representatives. The bill, HB 72, is sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry and passed on a unanimous vote of 65-0. It is also referred to as Jaydon’s Law, named after an Albuquerque teen who was gunned down during a drive-by shooting while at a house party.

A bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry and Democrat Rep. Carl Trujillo that would allow local governments to impose curfews on minors under the age of 16 from midnight to 5 a.m. passed the House Floor by a 44-21 vote. The bill, HB 29, is also supported by Albuquerque Westside City Councilor Ken Sanchez.

The future may be brighter for New Mexico students with the passage of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 3 today by the Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly following the same positive action last Friday by the Senate Rules Committee.

Legislation to help address New Mexico’s DWI problem passed the House Judiciary Committee by a unanimous, 9-0 vote. House Bill 81, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, will toughen the punishment for DWI offenders who continue to get in the driver’s seat after their licenses have been suspended or revoked.

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines that would allow judges to impose stricter penalties on DWI felons passed the House Judiciary Committee today by a vote of 9-1. The bill, HB 82, would expand New Mexico’s Habitual Offender law to include DWI felonies.

Legislation to crack down on repeat DWI offenders by increasing penalties for fourth and subsequent DWI offenses passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 7-4 vote. House Bill 83 is sponsored by Representatives Sarah Maestas Barnes and Rod Montoya.

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