In Brief - New Mexico News - March 11, 2013

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The Associated Press

Senate OKs pension change

SANTA FE — The Senate has approved a proposal that would allow former and current lawmakers to enroll in a state pension fund if they had failed to meet previous deadlines for joining the retirement system.
The measure cleared the Senate with almost no debate on Saturday on a 30-3 vote. It goes to the House for consideration.
Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales said the measure would require current lawmakers to contribute $700 a year into their pension plan — an increase of $100. About $2.4 million in tax revenue flows into the legislative pension fund.
A law enacted last year raised legislator contributions to $600 from $500 annually.
Currently, legislators could receive a pension of nearly $10,200 if they retired after serving 10 years, according to the Public Employees Retirement Association.

Less snowpack this year

SANTA FE— Another blast of winter weather is moving over northern New Mexico, but officials say the overall snowpack in the mountains remains light compared with past years.
The latest water supply forecasts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service show the current snowpack is between 20 percent and 40 percent the average over the last three decades.
Forecasters tell the Santa Fe New Mexican that the potential for more moisture this spring depends on whether the storm track favors New Mexico.
Snow melting in the higher elevations usually finds its way down the mountainsides to feed river flows. How long the snowpack lasts will depend on temperature and wind.
New Mexico is bracing for low river flows as it enters its third consecutive year of drought.

Open Meetings Act violated

RATON — The New Mexico attorney general’s office says Raton commissioners violated the state Open Meetings Act several times last year.
The findings were spelled out in a letter sent this week to Raton City Attorney Ray Floersheim. The attorney general’s investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by a resident.
Assistant Attorney General Sally Malave says the commissioners violated the act when they failed to specify why they were going into executive session during six separate meetings in 2012.
While the commission does not have to disclose what is discussed in closed sessions, Malave says the law requires that the subject matter be specified beyond general descriptions such as personnel matters or threatened or pending litigation.
The findings say the commission’s agendas and motions didn’t give the public adequate notice about what would be discussed during the closed sessions.