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.