Here’s a look at today’s headlines:
An Arizona man recently plead guilty in federal court in Las Cruces to cocaine trafficking charges arising from the seizure of over 150 pounds of cocaine at the New Mexico Port of Entry near Lordsburg on September 9th, 2016. Jesus Quiroz of Tucson is charged with possession with intent to distribute. Quiroz was on probation for a state cocaine trafficking conviction in Arizona at the time of his arrest.
Two writers from Western New Mexico University were recently recognized in the New Mexico Book Co-Op annual book award listing. Writer-in-Residence JJ Amaworo Wilson was awarded in the fiction category for his book titled Damnificados. Sharman Apt Russell, a longtime professor at WNMU, was awarded in the science fiction and fantasy category for her title Knocking on Heaven’s Door.
In legislative action, New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a change to the state constitution that would automatically provide voter registration through driver’s license records unless individuals chose not to participate. Approval by a majority of legislators would send the measure to a public referendum in 2018.
A hot topic at the legislative session has been the state’s budget crisis. The New Mexico state Senate approved a package of budget solvency bills yesterday, and the House of Representatives is likely to vote today on the plan to close an $80 million deficit for the fiscal year ending on June 30th. The plan would reduce program spending at public school districts throughout the school by 2 percent saving an estimated $50 million, shore up the general fund with as much as $88 million by spending insurance premium tax revenue as it is collected, sweep cash balances from various state accounts into the state general fund and make additional spending cuts to programs, and cancel or postpone at least $8 million in spending on local infrastructure projects.
In the State of the Judiciary address given earlier today, Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels told lawmakers that a lack of funding has damaged New Mexico’s justice system and could potentially cause the dismissal of criminal cases if courts are unable to provide speedy trials as is constitutionally required. Besides some district and magistrate courts having to cut hours, some courts may soon be unable to hold jury trials because money will run out in March to pay for jurors.