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Jeb Bush to fundraise for New Mexico governor

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is to visit New Mexico this week to raise campaign money for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
Martinez political spokesman Danny Diaz said Bush will attend a fundraiser Tuesday in Farmington and another in Santa Fe on Wednesday.
Central Consolidated School District announced that Bush, Martinez and Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera will speak at an elementary school in Shiprock Wednesday morning.
Bush served two terms as governor, first winning election in 1998.
Martinez has advocated some of the educational policies that Bush implemented in Florida, including holding back third-graders who can't read proficiently and giving schools A-to-F grades and performance-based pay bonuses for teachers.

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.

New Mexico Legislature nearing adjournment

SANTA FE (AP) - The Legislature is approaching the finish line of a 30-day session filled with election year politics and disputes between Democrats and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
The House and Senate are to adjourn at noon Thursday.
Lawmakers have completed work on what many consider their most important assignment - a budget to finance public education and government services. That's heading to the governor, who can cut spending in the $6 billion package using her line-item veto powers.
A spokesman for the governor calls the Democratic-controlled Legislature's budget proposal a good compromise.
Lawmakers passed a flurry of bills in the closing hours of the session, including proposals to finance capital improvements.

Senate approves proposal for higher minimum wage

SANTA FE (AP) — The Senate has approved a proposal to allow voters to decide whether to raise New Mexico's minimum wage to about $8.30 an hour next year and provide for automatic annual increases for inflation.

The measure is one of the top legislative priorities of many Democrats in the 30-day session that ends next week.

The state minimum wage has been $7.50 an hour since 2009. The Senate approved the proposed constitutional amendment on a 24-17 vote Friday and sent it to the House.

If approved by the Legislature, the wage proposal would be placed on the November general election ballot for voters to decide. It would bypass Republican Gov. Susana Martinez because a constitutional amendment doesn't go to the governor to be signed or vetoed.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

House OKs proposal to fix scholarship program

SANTA FE (AP) — The House has approved a proposal to shore up a lottery-financed scholarship program by trimming the financial aid awards for college students to less than the full cost of tuition.

The measure passed the House on a 65-1 vote on Friday and goes to the Senate, which is developing its own proposal.

The program faces a shortfall because lottery revenue isn't keeping pace with rising scholarship costs. Under the legislation, the state would set scholarship amounts each year as a percentage of tuition based on available revenue and the number of eligible students.

Currently, students can receive scholarships for eight semesters. That would drop to seven under the legislation.

Republican Rep. Jason Harper of Rio Rancho said the proposal was the most equitable way of fixing the program's problems.

5 Democrats in race to unseat Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez will face five Democrat opponents in the upcoming race for governor. - KOB File Photo

SANTA FE (AP) - Five Democrats have officially entered the race to unseat Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, Santa Fe businessman Alan Weber, longtime government worker Lawrence Rael of Albuquerque and state Sens.  Howie Morales of Silver City and Linda Lopez of Albuquerque Tuesday turned in the petitions and paperwork required to qualify for the Democratic Party's June primary ballot.
No one has filed to run against Martinez in the GOP primary.
But a lively Republican primary could be shaping up for U.S. Senate. Former New Mexico GOP Chairman Allen Weh and former Dona Ana County Republican Party Chairman David Clements are vying for the nomination to run against Democrat Tom Udall. It's Udall's first bid for re-election.

Lawmakers to consider state ban on e-cigs to minors

SANTA FE (AP) - New Mexico lawmakers are being asked to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors
Rep. Paul Bandy has introduced the measure to enact state controls on the new and increasingly popular form of "lighting up."
There currently aren't any federal or state statutes in place restricting the sale of electronic smoking paraphernalia to children, meaning kids can legally buy them at retailers and from Web sites. And critics say many of the candy and fruit flavors are designed to appeal to kids.
Bandy's bill would prohibit all sales to minors, in person and online.
The Aztec Republican says that right now, children have full legal access to electronic smoking devices, which are full of nicotine and just as addictive as tobacco products.