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Tornadoes kill 5 and injure dozens in Iowa; coalition presses lawmakers to put climate bond on CA November ballot; More residential care coming for children with acute mental health needs; and ND again ranks high for workplace danger.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

NM Resiliency Bill Aims to Help People Prepare for Climate Change

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023   

Worsening environmental conditions because of extreme weather and climate change are cited as why proactive legislation is needed by the New Mexico Legislature this session.

Rep. Liz Thomson, D-Albuquerque, is co-sponsoring the Public Health and Climate Resiliency Act, noting the state is prone to drought, extreme heat, wildfires and subsequent flooding, all of which can affect people's health.

Examples can include worsening asthma, heart conditions and other breathing issues from wildfires, while polluted water can cause lead poisoning or cancer.

Thomson said harmful weather events have a disproportionate impact on children's health because their bodies and immune systems are still developing, making them more susceptible.

"We have a lot of rural and a lot of poor people who don't have the luxury of having a swamp cooler or an air conditioner, and I worry about New Mexicans' health," Thomson stated. "We have a dire shortage of almost every health care provider."

Emergency room visits for respiratory issues during the 2022 wildfire season were estimated to be nearly 20% higher compared with previous years. The legislation has passed the Health and Human Services Committee and heads to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

If passed, the bill would designate a total of $5 million dollars to create a Public Health and Climate Resiliency Program within the Department of Health.

Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerillos, the bill's sponsors in the Senate, said to start, two staffers would be hired to oversee distribution of the money.

"The rest of the money would be grants of up to $250,000 that would be available to communities, tribes, Pueblos, towns, counties, cities to apply for, for technical assistance to do these evaluations," Stefanics outlined.

Stefanics said money distributed to various entities would be used to develop and implement response systems before extreme weather events take place.

Disclosure: New Mexico Voices for Children/Kids Count contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Human Rights/Racial Justice, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

References:  
Senate Bill 5 2023

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