Controversial bills up for debate in legislative session

From - By: Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - Tuesday kicks off the 30-day legislative session in New Mexico. A number of controversial bills are set to take the state in the coming weeks.
     First, Gov. Susana Martinez will give her State of the State address, where she's expected to talk about her budget proposal for 2014. She wants $6 billion in spending, with about $100 million in new spending for public schools.
Martinez has been vocal in the past about making New Mexico competitive through education reform. Part of the new funding will go toward raising the starting salaries for new teachers from $30,000 to $33,000.
     The governor is also expected to push the state to stop issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants—something she's fought for in the past four sessions.
     Another bill expected to heat up the legislative session is about legalizing recreational marijuana in New Mexico. The bill is modeled after Colorado's new pot law, and anyone 21 and older would be allowed to possess and use marijuana. The lawmaker who proposed the legislation, Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, said he thinks legalizing marijuana will actually help fight to war on drugs. More

NM ranks near the bottom for economic job growth

An economic study ranks New Mexico as one of the worst in the nation when it comes to economic and job growth.
The report, authored by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, shows New Mexico ranks 48 among states when it comes to job growth.
According to the report New Mexico had previously been ranked among the top 15 states for job growth over the last 40 years. The report showed New Mexico has the largest gap of any state when it comes to the disparity between its upper and lower class incomes. There’s also a large educational disparity. The report points out the state ranks fourth in the country with the number of people living here with Ph.D.s, but toward the bottom when it comes to people with bachelor’s degrees. 
The report also shows the state relies heavily on federal dollars and its economy could be badly hurt by any cuts to federal spending. It also said the state could benefit from the Affordable Care Act. 
There are some positives. According to the report, New Mexico does well in the areas of technology, arts and culture, mining, gas and oil production, transportation and tourism.


Student shot at Roswell school returns home

Kendal Sanders
One of the students wounded when a classmate opened fire inside a Roswell middle school gym is recovering at home. 
The family of 13-year-old Kendal Sanders says she was released from the hospital Sunday. She had surgery last week to repair damage done to her shoulder. 
The other victim, 12-year-old Nathaniel Tavarez, remained at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital Monday. A family member says the boy is in critical but stable condition and is now breathing on his own. 
Sanders and Tavarez were wounded when the gunman entered the crowded Berrendo Middle School gym last Tuesday and fired three times from a 20-gauge shotgun. 
The seventh-grade suspect has been charged as a juvenile with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Police have yet to speculate about a motive.


State legislature convenes today

Gov. Martinez
Gov. Susana Martinez will outline her legislative priorities to lawmakers on the opening day of the Legislature's 30-day session. 

Lawmakers convene at noon today, and the governor will deliver her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate. 

Martinez already has unveiled parts of her legislative agenda, including merit pay for teachers and budget increases for programs to help train more health care professionals.

 A Democratic legislator is sponsoring a constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by people 21 and older. 

Democratic Party officials are urging the Legislature to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, up from $7.50. The session is limited to budget, taxes and proposals placed on the agenda by the governor.