US Sen. Tom Udall and a group of bipartisan New Mexico Senators have added amendments to a new federal National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) bill that are meant to boost the state's space economy, improve communication and battle space debris.
Los Alamos Daily Post reports that Udall, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has announced the passage of four amendments to the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2019. The bill is meant to direct NASA and support the agency's efforts to send human astronauts to the moon and Mars as well as maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through the International Space Station.
The four Udall-sponsored amendments would press NASA to use commercial space ports licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration—like Spaceport America in New Mexico—for civil space missions, require the NASA Administrator to conduct a study on the use of commercial communications program services, support the development of optical communications and ensure that NASA meets or exceeds new international guidelines for debris mitigation and the sustainable use of space.
PED Suspends Questa School Board
The Questa School District is currently under the direct control of the New Mexico Public Education Department after officials suspended the entire board over accusations of leadership instability, failing to comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and violating the state Open Meetings Act.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart sent a letter to school board President Daryl Ortega last week informing him that the Public Education Department will serve as the school board for Questa Independent Schools until Jan. 1, when newly elected board members will take their seats.
According to the letter, the district has had four interim superintendents and been under five corrective action plans in less than two and a half years. In October, the Attorney General’s office advised one of Questa's board members to step down when it was discovered that he is a felon who was convicted of conspiracy to commit arson, and was also accused of criminal sexual contact with a minor under 13. The AG's office said he never should have been allowed to serve in the first place.
Questa school board has been suspended before—under former Gov. Susana Martinez' administration—over allegations of harassment and conflicts of interest.
Possible Botulism Case in ABQ
The New Mexico Department of Health announced that it's investigating what they suspect is the third case of botulism this year.
The Associated Press reports that a patient in Albuquerque has been hospitalized for what is believed to be wound botulism, a rare disease that can lead to muscle paralysis and death if left untreated.
Two cases of botulism were confirmed in people hospitalized in New Mexico in May and October. The DOH says all three cases have been linked to the use of injection drugs and doctors are being encouraged to look for signs of the illness.