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The Latest: New Mexico House OKs guardianship reforms

February 15, 2018

Sen. John Arthur Smith speaks with top budget writers from the House and the Senate to determine last minute changes on the budget at the Capitol in in Santa Fe, N.M., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Gabriela Campos/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on bills passing in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

10:45 p.m.

The New Mexico House has approved a bill aimed at overhauling New Mexico’s guardianship laws.

House members voted late Wednesday for reforms designed to increase state oversight and public access to information regarding professional guardians and conservators who manage finances and care for vulnerable elderly and disabled people. The amended bill now moves back to the Senate.

The measure includes more stringent reporting and financial accountability measures. It also requires that conservators be bonded or secure other asset-protection.

Those placed under guardianship or conservatorships are typically elderly, those with dementia or Alzheimer’s or others who need help with their decision-making or finances.

Currently, guardians and conservators proceedings are secret and families have complained about being barred from visiting or communicating with their loved ones once a professional guardian is appointed.

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10:30 p.m.

The New Mexico House has approved a watered-down version of a bill that adds confidentiality provisions for aerospace companies working out of a taxpayer-funded space launch facility in southern New Mexico.

House members voted 63-1 on Wednesday to protect trade secrets and information that would compromise the physical security or cybersecurity.

The original bill approved by the Senate this week added restrictions on public records that would have kept secret the names of companies doing businesses with the spaceport and the financial terms of individual contracts.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says those proposed restrictions on public records would have undermined accountability and financial oversight.

The new bill now heads back to the Senate. The Legislative session ends Thursday.

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10:15 p.m.

The New Mexico House has voted to increase the minimum salaries for public school teachers.

The proposal approved Monday now heads to Gov. Susana Martinez.

Under the proposal, the minimum salary for Level I, II and III teacher increases by $2,000 each.

A level II teacher will now make at least $34,000 a year. A level II teacher will make $44,000 and a level III will now make $54,000.

The move comes as some school districts battle a teacher shortage amid a number of retirements.

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9:45 p.m.

The New Mexico House has approved a tax credit that would offset costs of solar energy systems for households, small businesses and farms.

The House voted 40-26 on Wednesday for a bill that offsets income taxes to reward investments in small-scale rooftop solar investments.

The proposal now heads to the GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, who has indicated she is unlikely to support stand-alone tax measures.

Bill sponsor and Democratic state Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque says the bill reinstates tax credits that expired in 2016 and cap annual credits at $5 million. The new credit would gradually decline from 10 percent of costs to 6 percent over a 15-year period.

Rep. Jimmie Hall, an Albuquerque Republican, says it was a rich man’s tax credit.

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