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Charter school moratorium bill advances

dan_boyd_sigSANTA FE – A bill that would enact a 2½-year moratorium on any new charter schools being approved in New Mexico is headed to the House floor.

The House Education Committee voted 7-6 on Saturday to advance the legislation, which would bar any new charter school applications from being approved from June 2017 through January 2020.

There are currently nearly 100 charter schools around New Mexico – about 7 percent of New Mexico students now attend charter schools – and some legislators say there needs to be more review of their fiscal oversight and impact on public school funding.

Charter school advocates and the Public Education Department opposed the bill during Saturday’s hearing, while teachers union representatives testified in support of it.

Rep. Christine Trujillo

Rep. Christine Trujillo

Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, the sponsor of House Bill 46, pointed out the bill would not close any existing charter schools.

Gross receipts tax: An ambitious attempt to overhaul New Mexico’s gross receipts tax structure got more scrutiny Saturday, but no vote.

Members of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee heard more than two hours of testimony on the legislation, after also spending several hours trying to digest it last weekend.

The 347-page bill would rebrand the gross receipts tax as a sales tax. Specifically, it would repeal more than 100 tax deductions, allowing the state’s base tax rate on goods and services to be lowered.

Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, the sponsor of House Bill 412, has described the measure as aimed at making New Mexico’s tax code fairer and easier to understand.

Rep. Jason C. Harper

Rep. Jason C. Harper

Sexual assault bill: New Mexico universities would have to provide training to all students on ways to report, recognize and prevent sexual assault, under a bill that got broad backing Saturday in a House committee.

Members of the House Education Committee voted 12-1 to advance House Bill 339, which now goes to a second House panel.

The bill would also mandate universities to publish contact information for sexual assault victim advocates and providers, and would require training for campus police and other responders.

It’s being pushed after federal investigators accused the University of New Mexico – after a 16-month probe – of failing to adequately respond to incidents of sexual assault and harassment.

The U.S. Department of Justice and UNM struck an agreement last October aimed at improving the university’s handling of such cases.

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