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Local News
9:33 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Fewer weeks of jobless benefits to be offered

Fewer weeks of unemployment benefits will soon be available to jobless New Mexicans and the Department of Workforce Solutions says it's because of a change in federal law.

A maximum of 54 weeks of unemployment compensation will be offered with claims effective Sept. 2. That's down from 60 weeks currently.

The department says New Mexicans eligible for 60 weeks of benefits before Sept. 2 can continue to receive payments for up to that amount of time during a phase-out period.

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Local News
9:22 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Independent tests confirms drug use in horses

Three trainers whose horses tested positive for an exotic painkilling drug could face suspensions, fines and criminal charges.

New Mexico Racing Commission executive director Vince Mares says independent lab tests have confirmed that nine horses had been drugged with dermorphin.

He tells the Albuquerque Journal that the cases are being forwarded to the state Attorney General's Office for possible criminal prosecution.

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Local News
8:11 am
Fri August 31, 2012

Wolf Reintroduction Program Officials Work to Develop New Coexistence Plan

Cm0rris0n

After more than two weeks, the Fox Mountain Pack alpha female wolf is still on the loose, foiling The Fish and Wildlife Service’s best efforts to trap and move her to an Arizona Sanctuary. For wolf advocates this is good news, because it's another day she can spend raising her pups. But for ranchers, it means a habitual livestock killer is still an active threat to their cattle. The Mexican Gray Wolf reintroduction program has been controversial since its inception, but a new coexistence plan seeks to fix that...through compromise.

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Local News
6:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Hopes for a Medicaid expansion grow

It sort of felt like a party at a recent health fair at the Rio Arriba County Health Commons in Española.  And perhaps it is something to celebrate when you can get lunch, hear some traditional mariachi music by El Trio de los Gallos, and get immunized against pneumonia and whooping cough for free, all at the same time.

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Local News
6:46 am
Thu August 30, 2012

GOP speech puts NM governor in national spotlight

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez used her debut on the national political stage to offer a message of hope and opportunity.  

You can hear her full address online.

Martinez described how she rose from modest roots in a border community to become the nation's first female Hispanic governor.

The governor made a prime-time appearance Wednesday night with a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

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Local News
8:05 am
Wed August 29, 2012

New Mexico's "Hard Choices"

Elephant Butte Reservoir
Laura Paskus/KUNM

On Tuesday in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University hosted the 57th annual New Mexico Water Conference. This year’s conference was titled “Hard Choices” and its participants were trying to figure out how New Mexicans can adapt to water scarcity. 

At the conference, there were federal and state water managers, scientists, activists, farmers—anyone with an interest in understanding how New Mexico’s water is managed and how it’s going to be managed in the future, as water becomes increasingly scarce.

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Local News
10:18 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Meeting to address tribal public safety challenges

Federal prosecutors, law enforcement officers and social workers are meeting in New Mexico to address some of the public safety challenges that are unique to American Indian communities.

The Four Corners Indian Country Conference is being put on by the U.S. Justice Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. attorneys in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West will kick off the three-day conference Tuesday with a keynote address that will focus on the Justice Department's efforts to protect victims.

Local News
10:04 am
Tue August 28, 2012

NM Medicaid to cover methadone treatment

New Mexico is expanding its Medicaid program to cover the costs of using methadone to treat people addicted to heroin and painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine.

A Human Services Department official says the change in policy should help in fighting a drug addiction epidemic. New Mexico has the nation's highest death rate from drug overdoses.

The Drug Policy Alliance said Monday that New Mexico joins about 30 other states in reimbursing outpatient methadone treatment.

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Local News
10:02 am
Tue August 28, 2012

State lawmakers wade into water battle

A dispute over New Mexico's water future along the Rio Grande was front and center at a hearing before state lawmakers.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that around about 30 lawmakers from around the state met Monday in Truth or Consequences to listening to opposing sides of a major Lower Rio Grande Basin legal dispute.

One side says New Mexico river water is being handed away, improperly, to Texas. Another side says New Mexico groundwater is being preserved, rightfully, for use by Dona Ana County irrigators.

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Local News
4:46 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Hearings resume on pit rule for oil and gas industry

Flcelloguy, via Wikimedia Commons

Hearings resume on Aug. 28 on drilling wastes generated by the oil and gas industry. At issue are rules put in place under the previous administration governing thousands of waste pits and underground storage tanks.

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Call In Show
10:28 am
Mon August 27, 2012

To Expand or Not to Expand, Medicaid is the Question

clevercupcakes via Flickr

KUNM Call In Show 8/30 8a: Should New Mexico expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act?  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot force states to expand the program that provides healthcare to the poor.  Gov. Susana Martinez's administration says the decision has not been made, yet.  We'll hear from a community advocate and a physician.  We'd like to hear from you, too!  Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online, or call in live during the show.  

505-277-5866 or toll-free 866-899-5866

Guests: 

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Local News
10:21 am
Mon August 27, 2012

State Land Office lease sale brings in $7.39 million

The New Mexico State Land Office says this month's sale of oil and natural gas leases brought in nearly $7.4 million.

The August sales included 26 tracts of land that covered more than 8,000 acres. Revenues from the sales go toward public schools, universities and hospitals.

The agency says the highest sealed bid of $466,140 was made by Ronald Miles of Roswell for about 163 acres in Eddy County.

Miles also had the highest oral bid — $2 million for about 640 acres in Lea County.

The next lease sale will be Sept. 18.

Local News
10:19 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Curry County official questions assault report delay

A Curry County Commissioner wants to know why county officials said a report about a jail assault was just being started when it appeared to have been nearly complete.

Commissioner Robert Sandoval says he believes there's been a "huge cover-up" surrounding the report of the June 27 assault.

County Attorney Steve Doerr had claimed the report was ordered after the county was threatened with a lawsuit two days after inmate Jaime Perez was assaulted by another inmate. He claimed it was therefore protected by attorney-client privilege.

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Local News
10:17 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Search on for victims of NM man in porn ring case

Federal authorities say they are looking for possible victims of a New Mexico man who authorities say talked about raping and cooking children and is charged in a massive child porn investigation.

Richard Dates is scheduled Monday to appear for a preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. The 67-year-old was charged last week with possessing child pornography in a case that began in Massachusetts with the arrest of a Sheraton hotel manager.

Local News
8:49 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Court Rules for Oil Companies in Royalties Dispute

s_falkow

The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled in favor of two oil companies in a multi-million dollar dispute over royalties owed for oil and natural gas production on state land.

At issue in Friday's ruling was how royalty payments should be calculated under decades-old lease provisions.

The high court upheld a district court decision in favor of ConocoPhillips Co. and Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Co.

Local News
6:44 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Feds start training program to combat sexual assault

Federal officials have started a training program to help the law enforcement community investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases on tribal land.

Representatives from nearly two dozen American Indian tribes turned out this week for the first training seminar at the National Advocacy Center in South Carolina.

Leslie Hagen is the U.S. Justice Department's Indian Country training coordinator. She says it's going to take federal and tribal commitment and a coordinated response to address the high rates of sexual violence in tribal communities.

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Local News
6:39 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Secretary of state to serve as acting NM governor

Secretary of State Dianna Duran will serve as acting governor when Gov. Susana Martinez and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez are in Florida attending the Republican National Convention.

A spokesman says Duran expects to assume the chief executive's duties and powers Sunday afternoon and will continue as acting governor through part of next Friday.

The GOP convention is scheduled Aug. 27-30 in Tampa.

Duran spokesman Ken Ortiz said the secretary of state will be in frequent contact with Martinez during the week.

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Local News
6:38 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Jim Wilson to return to NM for '50 to 1' film

The producer of "Dances with Wolves," ''The Bodyguard" and "Wyatt Earp" will be in New Mexico this fall to work on a new independent feature film.

Jim Wilson will be producing and directing "50 to 1," the story of New Mexico's long-shot Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird. The gelding won the Derby in 2009 and went on to finish second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont that year.

Production will start in early September and run through October.

Local News
6:37 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Court rules in uranium mine cleanup dispute

The state Supreme Court has ruled a uranium company's insurance policies may cover costs of cleaning up contamination at a former mine in northwestern New Mexico.

The ruling on Thursday sends the dispute back to a district court to determine what insurers must pay for, if anything, involving a cleanup by United Nuclear Corp. at the Northeast Church Rock mine near Gallup. The site is adjacent to the Navajo Nation.

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Local News
6:35 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Feds release report on proposed NM uranium plant

Federal regulators have released a final environmental review of a proposed uranium deconversion plant in southeastern New Mexico.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there are no environmental effects that would preclude licensing the plant that International Isotopes Inc. plans to build near Hobbs.

The Idaho-based company plans to deconvert the tons of depleted uranium tails produced each year by Louisiana Energy Services' National Enrichment Facility in nearby Eunice.

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Local News
6:34 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Audit faults NM for failing to assess tax breaks

Legislative auditors say New Mexico fails to properly evaluate its economic development efforts to determine whether the state's tax breaks and other financial incentives for businesses are justified.

A report released Thursday by the Legislative Finance Committee estimates it's costing New Mexico $31,000 to attract a job with a $43,000 average salary. However, the head of the Economic Development Department called that figure "wildly inaccurate."

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Local News
6:33 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Romney says US energy independence is achievable

Republican Mitt Romney says his pledge to make the U.S. energy independent by 2020 is not "some pie in the sky" idea.

The GOP presidential candidate says his plans for reaching that goal include increased offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina. He also wants to give states the power to start energy production on federal lands.

Boosting U.S. energy production is a key aspect of Romney's economic proposals. He says his energy plans would create more than 3 million Americans jobs.

Local News
5:01 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Las Cruces opens new facility to treat toxic water

By Randy Son of Robert, via Flickr

A new water treatment facility opened in Las Cruces on Aug. 23 and is supposed to clean up water from a toxic Superfund site. The pollution was detected in the city’s water wells years ago, but a specific source for the contaminants remains elusive.

Federal, state and local officials were on hand to open the new facility, which will remove the chemical perchloroethylene from groundwater. PCE is a widely used in dry cleaning fabrics and for metal degreasing operations.

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Local News
9:45 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Weather Service warns of storms headed to New Mexico

Credit Jared via Flickr

The National Weather Service says a strong weather system is expected to bring heavy thunderstorms to western New Mexico and flash flooding is possible.

The system is moving into the state after hammering much of Arizona early Thursday. It is expected to reach the state Thursday afternoon and bring the heaviest rain to western parts of the state. Up to 3 inches of rain could fall per hour from some of the heaviest storm cells.

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Local News
9:43 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Oil production boosts state revenue

State officials say oil production in New Mexico rose by 13 percent last year, but natural gas production declined.

Top budget and tax officials in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration told the Legislative Finance Committee on Wednesday in Angel Fire that oil production reached 78 million barrels in the fiscal year ending in June. Economists expect production to gradually grow to about 86 million barrels in the next few years.

Higher oil prices have spurred production and are providing a revenue boost to the state.

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Local News
9:42 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Dispute lingers over potential US Senate candidate

 The state Supreme Court is asking the secretary of state's office to try to resolve a dispute over whether an Albuquerque man should be on the general election ballot as the Independent American Party's U.S. Senate candidate.

The secretary of state's office determined that Jon Ross Barrie didn't submit enough voter signatures in nominating petitions to become a candidate, but Barrie contends that elections officials wrongly invalidated some signatures.

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Local News
9:33 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Grand jury probe urged in Albuquerque shootings

Two families of men shot by Albuquerque police officers want a grand jury to look into police shootings.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the families and their lawyers have started a citizens' petition drive to empanel a grand jury and want a special prosecutor appointed.

Attorney Joe Kennedy, who is representing the family of Iraq war veteran Kenneth Ellis in a wrongful death lawsuit against Albuquerque police, said the families plan to ask a judge to disqualify Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg from the cases.

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Local News
4:30 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Drought dries New Mexico's largest rivers

Pecos bluntnose shiner
US Bureau of Reclamation

UPDATED 08-22-12, 8:00 PM:

Additional rains have reconnected flows within the stretch of the Pecos River that includes habitat for the Pecos bluntnose shiner. Biologists do not plan to conduct salvage work this week. About 30 miles of the river still remain dry.

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This has been a dry year in New Mexico. Statewide, we’ve received only half the precipitation of average, and most of eastern New Mexico is experiencing what the National Weather Service calls “extreme drought.” 

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Local News
7:24 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Public hearing held on nuke fuel disposal

Anti-nuclear activists are questioning a proposal to ship more plutonium to New Mexico.

Several activists lined up Tuesday evening in Los Alamos for the first in a series of public hearings on how best to dispose of surplus plutonium from the nation's nuclear weapons program.

One plan being studied by the Department of Energy calls for the shipment of 7 metric tons to Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina for processing into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.

Local News
7:15 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Higher insurance premiums proposed for state workers

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is proposing a 15 percent increase in premiums for health insurance covering about 73,000 state and local government workers and their dependents.

General Services Department spokesman Tim Korte said Tuesday the agency will ask the Legislature for $10 million next year to cover higher rates proposed for government agencies. Worker premiums will go up about $3 million if the rate increase is implemented in the fiscal year starting July 2013.

Korte said the proposal is contingent upon legislative approval of the $10 million.

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