Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture today announced the availability of $9 million in funding to assist low-income individuals and communities in developing local and independent food systems through the Community Food Projects Program.  Community Food Projects involve the entire food system. Projects assess strengths and establish connections among existing food systems, resulting in improved food systems that support self-reliance.  Grants are intended to help eligible, private, nonprofit entities in need of a one-time installment of federal assistance to establish and carry out multipurpose community food projects. Projects are funded from $10,000 to $300,000 and up to 36 months. All grants require a dollar-for-dollar match in resources.

Nominations are now being accepted for the first annual Governor’s Environmental Awards. The new program is a cooperative effort of the New Mexico Environment Department, Energy Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Office of the State Engineer, and Office of the Governor.  The purpose of the program is to support, recognize, and celebrate the hard work of those New Mexicans dedicated to restoring and protecting the natural heritage and environmental health of our state. Successful candidates will have demonstrated commitment, collaboration, and innovation through projects resulting in measurable environmental benefits for the state of New Mexico.

In legislative news:

Legislation that would increase the punishment for making any attempt to offer or hire a child for sex has passed the House floor by a unanimous 64-0 vote.  With this bill, anyone convicted of sexual exploitation of a child under the age of 13 will face a first degree felony instead of a second-degree felony as it is under current law. If the victim is between the ages of 14 and 16, then it is a second-degree felony.

Legislation that would require child-proof packaging for all nicotine liquid products used in e-cigarettes passed the House floor on Wednesday by a unanimous vote of 66-0.  This bill will help protect New Mexico’s children from accidentally ingesting and overdosing on nicotine.  To enforce these new rules, the Attorney General will have the ability to pursue a civil action, and a fine of up to $1,000 for failing to comply.

Other bills currently in the works include a bill that would help law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty, a bill that would improve the process for kids in foster care, and a bill that would have offenders convicted of three violent crimes facing mandatory life sentences.