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.