The Latest: Legislature rejects cap on charter schools
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on developments at the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):
Advocates for charter school education are breathing a sigh of relief after lawmakers rejected a statewide cap on student enrollment at autonomous public schools in New Mexico.
The proposal to limit charger school enrollment to 27,000 students was removed Friday from a broader initiative to increase spending for vulnerable students at public schools across the state. The majority of new state spending on public education over the past decade has gone toward charter schools that currently serve about 8 percent of the student population.
The bill from Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque devotes about $315 million in annual spending to at-risk students, extensions of annual class time and a boost in minimum teacher salaries. It won unanimous approval from a Senate committee on education.
Stewart says the bill is a major component of efforts to address a lawsuit and court order directing the state to devote more resources to public education, especially for students from minority and low-income families. New Mexico public schools rely mostly on state funding.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich wants the federal government to turn Bandelier National Monument into a full-fledged national park.
New Mexico’s junior senator told state lawmakers Friday that he plans to introduce legislation this year what would provide national park status to the wilderness area and archaeological preserve near Los Alamos.
Bandelier National Monument is named after 19th century anthropologist Adolph Bandelier and perhaps best known for its ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.
Heinrich and Sen. Tom Udall have been prominent figures in Democratic resistance to Trump’s effort to shrink national monuments and unravel environmental protections.
Heinrich says he also wants to revive efforts to grant national park status to White Sands National Monument.
U.S. Sen. .Martin Heinrich is urging New Mexico state lawmakers to push forward quickly with initiatives to address climate change and boost funding for education.
The second-term senator addressed a joint session of the state House and Senate on Friday in Santa Fe. Heinrich repeated the refrain “don’t wait” as he encouraged state lawmakers to take advantage of midterm election results to enact initiatives to promote clean-energy development, including quotas on renewable energy production for electric utilities.
Heinrich won re-election in November as fellow Democrats consolidated control over all statewide offices and the state’s entire delegation to Capitol Hill.
He applauded efforts by newly inaugurate Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to write new rules for the state regulation of methane emissions that contribute to global warming, as the Trump administration relaxes federal requirements.
A bill that would automatically register eligible voters at New Mexico motor vehicle offices unless they decline has cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature.
A House panel voted Friday to advance the bill over the objections of Republican legislators.
Current law allows eligible residents an automated option for registering to vote as they apply for driver’s licenses or state identity cards. The new bill from state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque would register eligible voters or update their existing registration unless they explicitly opt out.
Democratic New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver supports the change and says it could expand voter registration rolls statewide by as much as 30 percent, or nearly 400,000 voters.