Lawmakers approve funding for new 9th District judge

Staff and wire reports

The 9th Judicial District may soon have a new judge and the District Attorney’s office may add a prosecutor.
Lawmakers gave final approval to a bill Wednesday that would allocate $2.2 million for seven new district judges throughout the state, according to The Associated Press.
The new 9th Judicial District judge and staff would hold a principle office in Roosevelt County, and would be funded by $313,566, according to the bill.

The office of Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler may get approximately $100,000 for the addition of a new DA and support staff, as well as an overall budget increase of $185,000, Chandler said.

Funding will be granted if the bill is signed by Gov. Bill Richardson.

DNA collection bill approved
SANTA FE — The mother of a murdered New Mexico State University student called it a great day after lawmakers gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that requires DNA samples from adults arrested for certain felonies.

“So many people just threw their hearts and souls into this and this is going to save lives. There are daughters that will get to live their whole lives because of this day, this law,” said Jayann Sepich of Carlsbad, whose daughter Kathryn “Katie” Sepich was murdered in 2003.

Jayann Sepich shared hugs as members of the House stood and applauded after voting unanimously in favor of the measure, dubbed “Katie’s Law.”

A business student working on a master’s degree, the 22-year-old was last seen leaving a party Aug. 31, 2003. Her body was found later at an old Las Cruces dump; she had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Her killer has not been found.

The bill, if signed by the governor, would expand current law, which requires offenders 18 and older to provide DNA samples only when they’re convicted.

Health workers’ bills go to governor

SANTA FE — A trio of bills aimed at shoring up the state’s behavioral health care work force headed to the governor Wednesday after final approval from the Senate.
The bills, sought by the state Department of Health, are intended to attract much-needed behavioral health providers to New Mexico.

They speed up the process of granting reciprocity to social workers and psychologists from other states, and allow for temporary certification.

The bills went to the governor on unanimous votes.

Trauma center authority created
SANTA FE — A bill lawmakers sent to the governor Wednesday creates a nine-member authority that would oversee funding for trauma centers.

The authority would determine how money would be distributed to existing and new trauma centers from a special state fund.

The bill — and $4.7 million in funding contained in separate legislation — was prompted by a task force report that said New Mexico’s trauma centers are on the verge of collapse because of a surge in patients and a decline in specially trained physicians and nurses.