New oversight and reporting procedures for the state's highly criticized guardianship system were released by authorities last week.
Albuquerque Journal reports Senate Bill 19—introduced to shield incapacitated New Mexicans under court-ordered guardianship or conservatorship from exploitative behavior—took effect July 1. The new law is expected to create more transparency within the state's guardianship system by opening guardianship hearings to the public and allowing families the opportunity to view confidential reports concerning their relations' cases if approved by a judge. It also restricts guardians from banning family visits. Guardians and conservators are also required to keep financial records for seven years and comply with yearly audits.
Last month, the state Supreme Court announced it would be requiring guardians and conservators to report fees they've charged to the incapacitated person’s estate. Conservators must also explain how those fees were decided upon.
Former Tax Secretary Plea Delayed
The former head of New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department appeared in court last week while facing multiple charges of public corruption.
Last week, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Padilla was arraigned before a state District Judge, who scheduled her preliminary hearing for Oct. 29. The former tax secretary did not enter a plea, which her lawyer said would be inappropriate at the time. The judge released Padilla without bond on her own recognizance under the conditions that she not visit the tax department, contact any witnesses or use illegal drugs or drink excessively. Padilla will not have to enter a plea until the hearing in October. She faces three felony charges and five misdemeanors.
Water Planners Seeking Comment
The state's newest draft water plan was released earlier this month, outlining the challenges dry conditions and changing climate present New Mexico's drinking and irrigation stores. For the first time, state water managers are looking to hear comments on the plan from the public.
The draft was written by the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. The water plan is updated every five years, in accordance with the State Water Plan Act. The new draft recommends reserving groundwater for periods of drought, establishing sharing agreements between communities as well as researching desalination and other alternatives.
New Mexico is currently suffering from uncommonly high temperatures and drought. According to The Associated Press, forecasters believe the monsoon season will be unable to produce the amount of rain needed to counter current conditions.
The OSE and ISC are asking for public comment on the draft, which can be found at ose.state.nm.us. The comment period will end on Aug. 10.