GATHERING IN THE WEST | NM reflects on public money for pot companies; railroad, unions file vaccine complaint | New

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NEW MEXICO

State explores public funding for cannabis companies

SANTA FE – Small marijuana businesses in New Mexico reportedly have access to publicly funded loans of up to $ 250,000 to promote social and economic equity, under unveiled proposal October 14.

The New Mexico Financial Authority has suggested a $ 5 million line of credit to licensed cannabis microenterprises, seeking preliminary approval from a panel of state lawmakers. The panel voted 6-5 against immediate approval, delaying the effort amid a variety of concerns about the emerging recreational pot industry lending rules.

Under the proposed lending rules, loans would be made available to qualified cannabis “microenterprises” that are licensed to grow and sell marijuana from up to 200 plants at one location, operating somewhat. like an artisanal cellar or a brewery. This business niche was cleared in sweeping legislation to regulate and tax sales of recreational marijuana, signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in April.

The law requires the state to promote business opportunities for communities that have been disproportionately penalized by previous criminal enforcement of marijuana laws, without saying exactly how. The social justice provisions also prescribe some form of assistance to farmers in economically disadvantaged communities and residents of rural areas where the marijuana industry may be established.

New Mexico Financial Authority CEO Marquita Russel, architect of the draft loan program rules, said traditional business loans are still scarce for small cannabis entrepreneurs.

The proposed loan program would be funded by the State Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which helps stimulate the economy in remote areas of the state.

Sales of state-sanctioned recreational cannabis are expected to begin no later than April 1. State cannabis regulators have received at least 22 license applications to form a cannabis microenterprise, according to public records.

10-digit phone numbering required statewide

ALBUQUERQUE – Starting October 24, New Mexico phone users had to include area codes when dialing to make all calls, including local calls that previously only required seven digits.

The 10-digit dialing requirement is taking hold in many states, affecting 82 area codes across the country, and including the two area codes in New Mexico, according to the North American dial plan administrator.

Area code 505 covers the Albuquerque, Santa Fe area and much of northern New Mexico, including Gallup, Farmington, and Las Vegas. Area code 575 covers southern and eastern New Mexico, including Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Roswell, Clovis, Hobbs, Silver City, and Artesia.

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The change is made in area codes where some phone numbers have 988 prefixes. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission chose 988 as the three-digit speed dial code to reach the national suicide prevention lifeline starting next July.

Things that won’t change include customers’ phone numbers or area codes, prices or rates for phone calls, and the need for some long distance callers to dial “1” before the area code and phone number. , NANPA said.

NEBRASKA

Union Pacific and its unions sue over vaccine

OMAHA – Union Pacific and its unions are suing to determine whether the railroad has the power to require its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The unions argue that the Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad should have negotiated with them before announcing it would require all employees to be vaccinated. The Railroad is arguing in its own lawsuit that it believes it has the power to require the vaccine under its existing contracts because it can set standards to determine when employees are fit for work.

Union Pacific announced this month that it will require all employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 to comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden requiring all federal contractors to vaccinate their employees. The railroad also offers its unionized employees a bonus of $ 300 if they get vaccinated. Non-union railway employees are offered a half-day vacation if they are vaccinated.

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On the same day, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union – Transportation Division, or SMART-TD, filed a complaint against the railroad, Union Pacific filed its own complaint. against SMART-TD and two other unions who opposed vaccination. mandate to force the issue.

The railroad told employees they would be medically disqualified under their contracts rather than fired if they did not receive the shots.

But the unions said Union Pacific was unfairly changing their terms of employment without negotiating as necessary.

Other unions that opposed the mandate were the Brotherhood of the International Teamsters Track Maintenance Unit and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Union Pacific is one of the largest railroads in the country. it operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 western states.

Strong economic growth continues in rural areas of 10 states

OMAHA – Strong economic growth continues in rural areas of 10 lowland and western states, according to a new monthly survey of bankers in the region.

The region’s overall economic index improved in October to 66.1 from the already high 62.5 in September. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.

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Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who is overseeing the survey, said the region was benefiting from strong grain prices, persistently low interest rates and growing agricultural exports. USDA figures show that agricultural exports have increased by more than 25% so far this year.

Farmland prices in the region continue to rise, although the cropland price index slipped in October to 81.5 from a record high of 85.2 in September.

Demand for workers remains high, but companies are struggling to find people to hire, Goss said. The hiring index rose in October to reach a very high level of 71.4 against 67.9 in September.

But bankers were less optimistic about the economy. The confidence index fell to 51.8 in October from the much stronger reading of 65.4 in September.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were interviewed.

UTAH

“Widespread” Racial Harassment Discovered in School District

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal civil rights investigation released on October 22 found widespread racial harassment of black and Asian American college students in a Utah school district, including hundreds of documented uses of the N word and d other racial epithets in the past five years.

The inquest also found physical assaults, derogatory racial comments and harsher discipline for students of color in the Davis School District, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

The district agreed to take several steps under a settlement agreement, including a new service to handle complaints, more training and data collection.

Black students from across the district told investigators similar experiences of white and non-black students calling them the N word, calling them monkeys or monkeys and saying their skin was dirty or looked like feces, the findings said. of the department. The students also made monkey noises at their black peers, repeatedly referred to slavery and lynching, and told black students to “go pick cotton” and “you are my slave”.

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The investigation found that black students were also disciplined more harshly than their white peers for similar behavior and were denied the opportunity to form groups of students while supporting similar demands from other students.

District officials admitted to federal investigators that their disciplinary data of at least four years revealed that staff treated students of color differently from white students, but the district did nothing to correct those disparities, according to the department.

The district is committed to resolving all previous complaints.

Black and Asian American students each make up about 1% of the roughly 73,000 students enrolled in the district north of Salt Lake City.

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