Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner announced today the agency is seeking applications for $28 million in grants across the nation to support rural businesses and create jobs through the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program.  The RBDG grants can be used to acquire or develop land, buildings, plants and equipment; build or improve access to roads, parking areas, and utility services; provide technical assistance and training; establish revolving loan funds; and support rural distance learning programs that provide educational job training to adult entrepreneurs.

The New Mexico Department of Health received an alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding a powdered product called “Bo Ying compound,” which may contain high levels of lead.  The product is labeled in Chinese and English and marketed in retail outlets and online for the treatment of flu, fever, andnasal discharge in infants and children. Exposure to lead can cause serious harm to the developing brain, kidneys, and other organs. Lead in the body is toxic, especially for children. Ongoing exposure to lead, even at low levels, can result in learning disabilities, reduced IQ, and behavioral problems.

On the Governor’s Desk:

Governor Susana Martinez signed a series of bills into law that will soon make voting more convenient.  Senate Bill 643 will begin allowing on-line voter registration by July 1, 2015.  Senate Bill 617 makes amendments to the state Election Code which, among other things, changes school board term limits from six to four years and limits special school district elections to ballot questions.  Senate Bill 165 brings New Mexico into compliance with amendments to the federal Uninformed and Overseas Citizen absentee Voting Act.  House Bill 63 authorizes the Secretary of State to exchange information deemed necessary to maintain the statewide voter registration list with the chief election officer.

Martinez signed legislation that provides added transparency to help New Mexicans make more informed decisions about their healthcare service options. Senate Bill 323 allows the New Mexico Department of Health to provide more information about hospitals to New Mexicans. The legislation establishes a user-friendly website that will include information from hospitals about services, including quality and cost.

Martinez also signed legislation designed to increase efficiency and cost-savings in state government purchasing. Senate Bill 480, sponsored by Senator Sander Rue, (R-Albuquerque), better standardizes purchasing in state government by establishing classification codes for certain purchases, which are used to detail what types of products and services money is spent on. This will improve efficiency and reduce costs, thereby saving taxpayer dollars.