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State lawmaker facing campaign over ed proposal

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - An advocacy group has launched a campaign against New Mexico lawmakers they say blocked efforts to pass a new early childhood education proposal.
    
The Center for Civic Policy on Thursday began running newspaper ads against Sen. Carlos Cisneros for his role in opposing the proposed constitutional amendment. The proposal called for using 1.5 percent of the state's $13 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education programs.
    
The amendment died after Cisneros got lawmakers to table it in committee.
    
According to the group, advocates also plan on bombarding the Questa Democrat with telephone calls and emails.
    
Cisneros said he opposed the measure because he disagreed with the group's previous attacks on other lawmakers and also believed the permanent fund shouldn't be tapped.

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NM students to learn about sexual abuse prevention

Starting next year, students across New Mexico will learn how to identify signs of sexual abuse and it will start with kids as young as 5.

Gov. Susana Martinez signed "Erin's Law" on Wednesday. She said it's time to teach our kids how to protect themselves and other victims of sexual abuse.

"You have little ones, different ages… you got to teach them age appropriate stuff," Martinez said.  

Request to oust judge from slaughter suit denied

ROSWELL (AP) - The New Mexico Supreme Court is refusing to bar a District Court judge from handling a lawsuit against a proposed horse slaughterhouse in Roswell.
    
The Albuquerque Journal reports that an order by a three-justice panel of the state high court denies Valley Meat's request to have District Judge Matthew Wilson removed from the case.
    
The request alleges there's an appearance of impropriety and a lack of impartiality by Wilson because of posts on his campaign website by other people commenting on the horse slaughter case.
    
The lawsuit by state Attorney General Gary King seeks a permanent order blocking horse slaughter in New Mexico.
    

State may extend insurance enrollment deadline

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico officials frustrated with the federal healthcare.gov website are considering extending the deadline to join the state-run health insurance exchange.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange board held informal discussions Friday on whether to prolong the open enrollment period, which is scheduled to close March 15.

Board Chairman Dr. J.R. Damron says glitches in the federal system have made signing up a "dysfunctional" process.

The deadline to have health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act is April 1. Those who miss it could face tax penalties and more months of waiting for the next open enrollment period.

Officials had initially estimated 83,000 people would register this year. But they now estimate between 40,000 and 50,000 will enroll.

Wild wind, rain and even snow headed for NM

New Mexico is in for a wild day with very high wind whipping across the state and rain opportunities returning.

Gusts of 55 mph are possible for central, eastern and southeastern New Mexico from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. A Red Flag warning for fire danger has been issued for southeastern New Mexico due to winds.

The best rain chances will be across the western part of the state. The rain is expected to begin midday on Saturday and transition into snow for the northern regions.

Around 6 a.m. Sunday, snow will move in from the west. The best snow chances will remain in the north, central and western mountain ranges, with a Winter Storm Warning in place through Sunday afternoon for the north central mountains.

The metro could see some rain and even a light dusting of snow late Saturday into Sunday.

Travel on I-40 west of Albuquerque could become very dodgy at times and the potential for heavy rain and wind could make driving dangerous.

WIPP officials confirm at least 13 people contaminated by radiation

More workers at the nuclear waste plant near Carlsbad will be tested for radiation.

This comes after more than a dozen workers were exposed.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant officials held a news conference Thursday where they confirmed 13 employees tested positive for radiation.

Officials say those employees are being taken care of.    

“I am responsible to ensuring that my employees are safe at all times at our facility.  So, I can tell you that my employees are in no way in any harm or danger at the time of the incident or ever since then,” said Farok Sharif, Nuclear Waste Partnership President.

The employees inhaled particles of radiation while working above ground the night of the leak on February 14.

Now officials will test employees who worked the day after the leak to see if they have been exposed.

Every day, between 300-500 employees work at the plant.

New Mexico lawmakers average $16K in compensation

SANTA FE (AP) - State records show that New Mexico legislators averaged a little over $16,000 in compensation last year although they receive no annual salary.
    
The New Mexico Legislature is part-time. House and Senate members collect a daily expense payment, called a per diem, when the Legislature is in session and while attending or traveling to committee meetings throughout the rest of the year.
    
Four state senators were the highest compensated members of the Legislature last year, according to information from the Department of Finance and Administration obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
    
Democratic Sen. John Pinto of Gallup collected $27,463. Democratic Sen. Carlos Cisneros received $26,905, and Republican Sen. Lee Cotter of Las Cruces got $26,800. Senate President Mary Kay Papen, a Las Cruces Democrat, received $26,289.