News

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The weather’s warming up, but flu season’s not quite over. Even if you already had the flu this season, if you feel ill, you could have it again. A second virus is making its way around New Mexico. 

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Trinity Test Site Opening To Face Protest From Residents – by Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Seven decades after an atomic bomb helped end World War II, families in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin want tourists to know nearby residents later suffered from health problems.

Protesters are planning a demonstration this weekend as the Trinity Test site opens to visitors.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders, says a bomb tested at the site later caused rare forms of cancer for many residents in the area.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

An Arizona nonprofit that came to New Mexico after the 2013 behavioral health shakeup called it quits on March 31 after less than two years. 

Turquoise Health and Wellness was the main provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment to several cities in Southeast New Mexico. Not anymore. Human Services Department spokesperson Matt Kennicott said since the company gave its 90-day closure notice, the state has been working with communities to find replacements.

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief passenger train route through northeastern New Mexico will not be altered. The train is the economic lifeline for many people in the affected service area.

Raton Mayor Sandy Mantz says Amtrak’s decision not to stop service is wonderful news, because every summer thousands of passengers arrive in town by train and are responsible for almost half the yearly sales at local shops.

inlandwest via Flickr

Labor Officials: New Mexico, West Texas Workers Underpaid The Associated Press

Federal labor officials say oil and natural gas workers in New Mexico and West Texas have been underpaid by more than $1.3 million.

The U.S. Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division made the announcement Monday. The findings stem from an enforcement initiative launched by the division last year.

Officials say overtime violations led to the underpayment of some 1,300 workers.

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New Mexico Nuclear Enrichment Plant OK'd For Expansion – Associated Press

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given its approval for URENCO USA to expand its nuclear enrichment facility east of Eunice.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that the panel gave the OK last week on URENCO's most recent license amendment application.

That means URENCO can double its capacity over the course of two more phases beyond the current three-phase $4 billion facility.

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New Mexico Governor Has Until April 10 To Sign BillsThe Associated Press 

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has until April 10 to act on bills passed during the just-concluded 60-day legislative session.

The bills she doesn't sign by then will be considered pocket vetoed.

Martinez had signed five and vetoed one as of Friday afternoon.

New Mexico lawmakers passed 191 bills during this session. The Albuquerque Journal reports that's the lowest number for a 60-day session since 1949.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NM Officials: Flu Sickened More This Year; Season Not OverThe Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are warning that the flu season is not over.

Officials say more people have been hospitalized in the state this season than in many years.

According to the state Department of Health, the virus hospitalized 40 people per 100,000 this flu season as compared with 29 per 100,000 during 2012-13.

Children under 5 and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

NMPBS

The risk of developing cancer tends to be lower for Native Americans and Hispanics in New Mexico. But people in these communities tend to be diagnosed at later stages, when the chances of dying are greater.

This month on Public Square from New Mexico PBS – efforts to take early screening for cancer into the communities that need it.

Here, host Megan Kamerick talks with Dr. Gayle Dine Chacón, medical director at Sandia Pueblo, and Elba Saavedra , director of Comadre a Comadre at UNM.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After less than two years serving southeastern New Mexico, a behavioral health provider will shutter its programs on March 31, leaving hundreds without services.

What does this mean for Roswell and its courts, which were ordering offenders into treatment there?

Judge Freddie Romero presides over the drug court for juveniles in Chaves County. It’s not what you might imagine. The judge is warm and friendly. The kids who approach the podium with their parents in tow are everyday teenagers—jeans, T shirts, the occasional piercing.

Bernalillo County commissioners did not vote on whether to approve a controversial development plan at a hearing Thursday, instead scheduling additional time for public comments later this year.

Developers say the Santolina Master Plan community could someday be home to as many as 90,000 people.

Opponents spoke at a hearing this week in an effort to convince commissioners to vote down the plan. Many said Santolina would take away needed water resources in Albuquerque's South Valley.

What Grows In The Garden

Mar 26, 2015
bknabel via Flickr / Creative Commons License

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, commentator Andrea Mays had some thoughts about the legacies she’s inherited from women in history.

They’re like important books, she says. They present themselves when we least expect them and when we need them most.

Andrea Mays is an American Studies scholar. She lives in Santa Fe. Her bi-monthly column, Here's The Thing, is published by the Santa Fe Reporter. You can read the full length piece here.  

Rita Daniels

The Bernalillo County Commission kicked off hearings Wednesday on a huge proposed development southwest of Albuquerque.

Tractors cruised through downtown Albuquerque on their way to city hall where the commission began hearing testimony on the Santolina plan to build 38,000 new homes over the next four or five decades.

Arianna Sena

Transparency Bills A Casualty In NM Legislative Session - The Associated Press

Open government advocates say it wasn't a good legislative session for boosting transparency as lobbying disclosure and campaign finance bills failed.

Of about a dozen bills — from requiring independent groups to disclose campaign donations to a two-year break for legislators who turn lobbyist — only a couple of measures made it to Gov. Susana Martinez's desk.

How A Reform Bill Loses Its Teeth In 60 Days

Mar 25, 2015
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For 60 days, New Mexico’s lawmakers debated in legislative committees and in hallways of the Roundhouse whether or not to reveal to the public how lobbyists go about influencing legislators.

The answer came back “not” last week.

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Lobbyists and their employers reported spending nearly $300,000 during the 60-day session that ended Saturday – and that’s just the spending that totaled more than $500 at a time.

State law requires lobbyists to report any spending of $500 or more within 48-hours. All told, lobbyists and employers reported spending $295,300 during the session. This session, that included spending on meals, receptions, teddy bears and more.

More lobbyists will report individual expenditures under $500 at a time in reports to be filed May 1.

Jim Clark / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / public domain

Partisan Fighting Also Killed New Mexico 'Kendra's Law' - The Associated Press

Lost in the partisan bickering of the New Mexico Legislature's final moments was a measure aimed at helping some residents with severe mental illness.

Since lawmakers failed to pass the bill, New Mexico remains one of only a handful of states without a "Kendra's Law."

It would have allowed judges in some counties to order patients to take medication and undergo treatment if they are deemed a danger to themselves and their community.

Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

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The Bernalillo County Commission will hear testimony this week about a controversial proposal to build a huge planned community west of Albuquerque.

If approved, Santolina developers would turn about 14,000 acres of sprawling sand dunes into a mini-city complete with industrial parks and schools.

wcn227 via Flickr

The Obama administration announced broad new federal regulations of hydraulic fracturing last week. The rules will only apply to drilling on public land — which in New Mexico accounts for around half of all oil and gas operations.

The new regulations announced by the Interior Department allow for federal inspections of drill sites and require public disclosure of fracking chemicals, among other things.   

Randy Montoya

Report: Feds To Exceed Costs For Cleaning Up Nuke Waste – The Associated Press

A government watchdog says work to clean up radioactive waste at one of the federal government's premier nuclear laboratories is costing more than expected.

The Government Accountability Office says by the end of the last fiscal year, the National Nuclear Security Administration spent about $931 million to remove contaminated equipment and soil from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

That's $202 million more than the agency's 2006 estimate.

Arianna Sena

KUNM's Floyd Vasquez chatted with Gwyneth Doland about bills from the state legislature that passed this session as part of our People, Power and Democracy reporting project. Our partners are New Mexico In Depth, New Mexico PBS and the UNM Communication and Journalism Department. 

KUNM: The session ended at noon on Saturday. Now that it’s all over, tell us what happened?

Arianna Sena

KUNM's Chris Boros chatted with Gwyneth Doland about bills that did not pass at the state legislature this session. It's part of our People, Power and Democracy reporting project. Our partners are New Mexico In Depth, New Mexico PBS and the UNM Communication and Journalism Department. 

KUNM: We heard from you this morning about some of the bills that passed and are awaiting the governor's signature. But that was only a couple hundred bills. And there are many, many more that did not make it.

Jena g. . Einar E. Kvaran aka 98.20.23.52 23:59, 1 June 2009, via Wikimedia Commons

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 3/26 8a: 

The 2015 legislative session has ended, characterized, in part, by partisanship, rancor and a lack of collaboration and cooperation. 

Where are the big, bold ideas and actions that will address pressing issues in New Mexico? Who is taking action and advancing ideas that will benefit all New Mexicans, including low-income people, people of color and other disenfranchised communities? 

We'll look back at some legislation that passed this session, some that did not, and we'll look forward to hearing from you!

Guests:

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Albuquerque Police: 1 Dead, Others Hurt In Park ShootingThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police say one person is dead and others are injured following a shooting at a skate park.

A police statement early Monday says the shooting at Los Altos Park was reported shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.

Officer Fred Duran says there are "multiple subjects injured and one subject deceased from the shooting."

Information was still sketchy with Duran saying that many details haven't been determined, including the identities of the victims.

Highlights Of New Mexico Legislative Session 2015

Mar 21, 2015
Arianna Sena

A look at proposals that passed and failed during the 60-day session of the Legislature, which ended Saturday.

ALCOHOL-DRUGS

— Passed: Bill to allow restaurants and delivery companies to deliver beer and wine to residences and hotels; prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and nicotine liquid containers to minors; allow farmers in the state to grow industrial hemp for research only.

— Failed: A bill to legalize the selling and cultivating of marijuana stalled in a House committee.

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ANIMAL PROTECTION

Arianna Sena

Lost in the drama of Saturday was the death of legislation that would have exposed so-called "dark money” groups to more public scrutiny.

The cause of death?

Late-session disagreements and wariness in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

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The New Mexico state Legislature this week passed a $6.23 billion budget (HB 2) that increasing funding for education, job training and other programs. It also includes a tenfold increase in the Local Economic Development Act fund, one of the rare proposals this session that were supported by Democrats as well as Gov. Susana Martinez.

401(K) 2012 via flickr

NM Legislature Rips Through Bills; Wrangling Capital OutlayThe Associated Press 

State lawmakers continue putting finishing touches on dozens of bills as the 52nd New Mexico Legislature's first session heads for the history books.

Among bills lawmakers sent to Gov. Susana Martinez for consideration Friday was a massive $6.2 billion budget. It includes pay raises for new teachers and state police. It also boosts spending for education, the state's child welfare agency, public safety, tourism and economic development.

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T-Mobile’s corporate policies violated the rights of their employees, including those who work in New Mexico, according to a court ruling this week.

There are 550 people working at a T-Mobile call center in Albuquerque.

Several of them complained to the National Labor Relations Board saying they were prohibited from talking to each other about how much they get paid and other things.

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