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Governor signs Civil Rights Commission, election protections, solvency measures into law
From a governor’s office news release
On June 26, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law three measures passed by the New Mexico Legislature during the June 18-22 special session, which the governor called to address the state budget and other issues.
Legislators passed and sent to the governor eight bills. The three she signed June 26 are
House Bill 5 establishes the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission, a bipartisan nine-member body that will evaluate and make recommendations about the creation of a civil right of action for violations of state constitutional rights, and review the use of qualified immunity as a defense to liability by an employee of a public body. Under the law, the commission will submit a report to the legislature’s interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee by Nov. 15.
Six members of the commission will be appointed by the New Mexico Legislative Council and three will be appointed by the governor, with no more than five from the same political party. At least one member must have law enforcement experience, and geographic, gender, cultural and racial diversity must be considered in the appointment of members.
HB 5 was sponsored by House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe; Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Rep. Karen Bash, both D-Bernalillo. It passed the state House of Representatives 53-17 and the Senate 32-9. All senators and representatives representing Doña Ana County voted for the bill.
Senate Bill 4 is designed to mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 general election in New Mexico and provide for the secure and expeditious conduct of absentee voting in November. Under the law, county clerks may automatically mail applications for absentee ballots to each mailable voter in the county. The bill also has additional vote-by-mail provisions should they be warranted by emergent public health conditions and it ensures that New Mexico pueblo and tribal polling places will not be closed or consolidated without the written agreement of the nation.
SB 4 was sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Bernalillo; Sen. Gabriel Ramos, D-Grant, Socorro, Catron; Rep. Linda Trujillo, D-Santa Fe; and Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, D-McKinley, San Juan. It passed the Senate 40-2. After failing 38-32 in the House, it passed 44-26 on a motion to reconsider. Sens. Ron Griggs, R-Otero, Doña Ana and Eddy; and Pat Woods, R-Curry, Quay and Union; were the two no votes in the Senate. On the second House vote, all House members representing Doña Ana County voted for the bill. State Rep. Rudy Martinez, D-Grant, Sierra, Doña Ana, had voted against the bill on the first vote.
Senate Bill 5 reverts unencumbered state appropriations to the general fund and authorizes the issuance of several short-term bonds to help stabilize state finances in light of the global economic upheaval caused by COVID-19 and declining oil prices.
SB 5 was sponsored by Sen. George Muñoz, D-McKinley, Cibola and San Juan; and Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Roosevelt, Chaves, Curry, De Baca and Lea, Republican leader in the Senate. It passed the Senate 36-6 and the House 68-1. Sens. Mary Kay Papen and Joseph Cervantes, both D-Doña Ana, were among those voting against the bill in the Senate. The only House member to vote against it was Rep. Greg Schmedes, R-Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe. State Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, was absent for the vote.
Las Cruces named fourth best-run city in U.S.
Whoever becomes the new Las Cruces city manager will inherit leadership of what the personal finance website WalletHub has listed as the fourth best run city in the United States.
For each city, WalletHub said it constructed a “Quality of City Services” score – comprising 38 key performance indicators grouped into six service categories – that was then measured against the city’s total per-capita budget.
Here is how Las Cruces scored among the 150 cities included in the survey: (1=best run, 75=average); financial stability: 49; education: 44; health: 22; safety: 41; economy: 111; infrastructure and pollution: 76; total budget per capita: 9; states offering the most coronavirus support: 11. Las Cruces was ranked 30th in quality of city services.
Nampa, Idaho was ranked No. 1 in the survey, followed by Boise, Idaho; Provo, Utah; Las Cruces; Durham, North Carolina; Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky; Missoula, Montana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Nashua, New Hampshire.
The bottom 10 in the survey, ranked 141st-150th, were Flint, Michigan; Chicago; Detroit; Oakland, California; Hartford, Connecticut; New York City; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Gulfport, Mississippi; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.
Albuquerque was ranked 25th in the survey and El Paso was ranked 40th.
WalletHub report: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-run-cities/22869/.
Interactive Video Inspection a Win-Win for Las Cruces
From a City of Las Cruces news release
When the City of Las Cruces Community Development Department established its standard operating procedures for Interactive Video Inspection (IVI) in January 2020, the goal was to introduce an innovative alternative to on-site construction inspections. With the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, the IVI system has proven to be not only innovative but has become the go-to inspection method, allowing essential building projects to stay on track.
“We have completed approximately 75 percent of required inspections using IVI in the last four months,” said city Community Development Department (CDD) Director Larry Nichols. “The system has helped our inspectors meet the needs of increased construction while complying with social distancing and Covid-19 safe practices. It’s been a win-win for all of us.”
The inspection office, which has nine inspectors, averages 85-100 IVIs daily and hopes to expand the program to complete more by encouraging builders to schedule IVIs. “Most inspections can be done interactively,” Nichols said. “Those that require being on-site are handled within two days of being scheduled by our staff who use face coverings and practice social distancing. The safety of everyone is a priority.”
As an alternative to on-site inspections, IVIs are appropriate for inspections that require prompt service, a follow-up after an initial onsite inspection or to schedule a more specific inspection time. IVI connects a contractor with a city inspector via a video call on a 4G smartphone or tablet.
Contact CDD at 575-575-528-3059. Visit las-cruces.org/184/Community-Development. The Accela portal can be found at https://aca-prod.accela.com/lascruces/Default.aspx.