Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Bayard City Council recently approved awarding Engineers Inc. over $10,000 to complete the final design for the Water System Improvement Project.  The council also approved seven other agenda items, and proclaimed April 1st as “Start by Believing Day”.  Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign designed to change the way communities respond to rape and sexual assault.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled yesterday that every person, no matter their profession, as the duty to report child abuse.  It has always been the law that everyone must report suspected child abuse.  However, in 2013, the New Mexico Court of Appeals issued a decision limiting that duty to 12 professions: including licensed physicians, law enforcement officers, nurses, teachers, and social workers.  Yesterday’s decision by the state Supreme Court makes it crystal-clear that every person suspicious of child abuse has the duty to report it.

In legislative action:

The New Mexico House of Representatives passed legislation that would bar state officials from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving their government posts.  The bill would require elected officials and some government workers to wait two years after leaving their post to become a paid lobbyist.  The ban includes statewide elected officials, former public regulation commissioners, state legislators and cabinet secretaries.

Another bill in the House is seeking to ask that employers only consider an applicant’s criminal record once a candidate has passed the initial screening of applicants.  The sponsor of the Senate bill, which passed the State Senate last week, stresses the legislation does not seek to prevent employers from doing their due diligence when it comes to hiring, but rather provides an opportunity for any criminal behavior on the part of applicants to be discussed as the hiring process proceeds.  It’s been called the “ban the box” bill because it would do away with checking an application’s yes or no box to answer the question: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Two bills making their way through the Legislature could mean changes for CYFD.  One bill would help with recruiting and retaining case workers by increasing penalties against people who attack them.  The second bill would allow CYFD to help pay off student loans for those who stay at least five years with the department.

A bill that expands the type of industries that can be issued county Industrial Revenue Bonds has passed the State Senate.  The bill adds the energy development industry, and will assist in attracting refining and mining firms to the southeastern portion of the state.  The bill also encourages speedy economic development projects by allowing the counties to move more quickly through the bond award process by limiting the amount of time allowed for protests.