The Associated Press

Kaveh Mowahed

Bernalillo County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve the Santolina Master Plan and zoning. The huge development west of Albuquerque is to include 38,000 homes, plus commercial and open space.

Commissioners spent a lot of time discussing Santolina’s jobs forecasts – developers say the plan would bring two jobs for each home built. This sparked a debate on the definition of the word “job.”

But critics say the jobs predictions are inflated.

Brainwise via Flickr

UPDATE 12:00p: New Mexico Regulators Delay Decision On Power Plant - Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are giving Public Service Co. of New Mexico more time to ink agreements with a mining company, delaying a decision on whether to approve a plan to close part of the San Juan Generating Station.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 during its meeting Wednesday.

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.

___

ANIMAL PROTECTION

A top leader of Yemen's al-Qaida branch has claimed responsibility for last week's attack on a Paris newspaper, when two masked gunmen killed 12 people, including much of the weekly's editorial staff and two police officers.

Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP as the branch is known, appeared in an 11-minute Internet video posted Wednesday, saying that the massacre at Charlie Hebdo was in "vengeance for the prophet." The paper had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which is considered an insult in Islam.

Albuquerque Officer Involved In Shooting May Be Fired

Nov 30, 2014
davidsonscott via Flickr

An attorney for an Albuquerque police officer who fatally shot a 19-year-old Mary Hawkes and did not record the encounter says the officer will likely be fired.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a lawyer representing Officer Jeremy Dear, who has been on administrative leave, says police supervisors are recommending his termination.

Attorney Thomas Grover says their conclusion is because of an internal affairs investigation that looked into several issues, including a history of alleged lapel camera policy violations.

Cm0rris0n

Wildlife officials have confirmed the first gray wolf in northern Arizona in more than 70 years.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Jeff Humphrey said Friday that analysis of the animal's scat shows it's from the Northern Rockies population.

The wolf is believed to have traveled at least 450 miles into northern Arizona, where it's been spotted at the Grand Canyon and the adjacent forest.

Wolves often roam vast distances in search of food and mates. Packs from the Northern Rockies had been found as far south as Wyoming.

Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier is stepping down from her cabinet-level job in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration running one of the state's largest agencies.

Squier's resignation is effective Dec. 1.

The governor said in a statement Thursday that Squier's "leadership has been valuable and important" during a time when New Mexico expanded and overhauled its Medicaid program, which provides health care to lower income New Mexicans.

KCIvey via Flickr

The Associated Press reported today that a state judge has ordered a New Mexico county to issue provisional ballots after lawyers for Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign complained voters were being turned away due to software problems.

Judge George Eichwald told Sandoval County election officials Tuesday they must give voters provisional ballots if problems continued.

Voters in at least two precincts reported that election officials turned them away after ballots weren't printing properly. About a dozen voters were affected and ended up voting later.

Santa Fe Hospital Union Agrees To New Contract

Oct 19, 2014
Chelsea Stirlen via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A union that represents hundreds of nurses and medical technicians at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe has overwhelmingly ratified a new, three-year labor contract.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Saturday's vote brings an end to months of heated negotiations.

Prayitno via Flickr

A federal judge has ruled against a New Mexico tribe trying to obtain a new gambling compact from the Interior Department.

U. S. District Judge James Parker on Friday invalidated Interior Department regulations that allow a tribe to go to the agency for a gambling agreement when it's failed to negotiate a compact with the state.

Pojoaque Gov. George Rivera says the tribe is considering an appeal of the decision.

Ed Williams

 

A city councilor in southeastern New Mexico where 500 Central American immigrants are being detained is set to join a forum on the center's conditions.

Officials say Artesia City Councilor Jose Luis Aguilar is set to participate in a forum Sunday in Albuquerque that will also address how the immigrants are struggling to obtain legal representation.

Leticia Zamarripa, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says since the Artesia detention center opened in June, more than 300 immigrants have been processed and deported from facility.

Photo by Octavian Cosma via www.flickr.com

Federal authorities say a drug suspect has died while in custody at a U.S. Border Patrol facility in Texas.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the 36-year-old man was found unresponsive Friday in a holding cell at a Border Patrol checkpoint between Carlsbad, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas.

Authorities say agents performed CPR on the man before he was transported to an El Paso hospital where he died.

They say he was in custody for drug possession.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Internal Affairs is investigating.

Dr. Randal J. Schoepp via Army Medicine / Creative Commons

 

Gov. Susana Martinez has directed the state Department of Health to coordinate an Ebola preparedness plan in case the disease is diagnosed in any New Mexico patients.

Martinez's office says the Health Department will work with other state agencies, local governments and hospitals across New Mexico to ensure officials are prepared.

Martinez says that despite the low risk, she wants to reassure residents that the state would be able to respond quickly if an Ebola case emerges.

ChristopherElison via Flickr

A federal judge has refused to referee a legal fight over whether two New Mexico counties can put nonbinding questions about marijuana and taxes on the November general election ballot.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen Thursday said the court lacks jurisdiction in the dispute between Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

The counties have approved advisory ballot questions to ask voters whether they support decriminalizing marijuana.

National Weather Service

Heavy rains are expected to strike the state this week thanks to remnants of Tropical Storm Odile.

The National Weather Service said severe weather from the Odile will move across most of northern and central New Mexico bringing possible flooding and thunderstorms

Flash flood watches already are in effect through Tuesday evening in parts of northern and central New Mexico along the Rio Grande and in the state's southwest mountains. Forecasters say the storms will be capable of producing 1 to 3 inches of rain during short periods, creating the threat of flash flooding.

beatplusmelody via flickr

Democratic gubernatorial challenger Gary King's campaign manager has resigned after holding the job about two months.

Keith Breitbach was King's third campaign manager.

King announced the resignation on Monday and in a statement thanked Breitbach for the "positive impact" he had on the campaign.

Breitbach said in an interview he had "no hard feelings with Gary or anyone on the campaign."

He acknowledged that King's campaign faced difficulty because it's struggled to raise money and has been outspent 4-to-1 by Susana Martinez since July.

Steve A Johnson via Flickr

New Mexico's top election official says she won't place nonbinding questions about marijuana penalties on the November general election ballot for voters to decide in two counties.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran said in a statement Wednesday that state law doesn't authorize ballot questions that only ask voters their opinions on issues such as lessening penalties for possessing marijuana.

Santa Fe and Bernalillo county commissioners approved proposals this week to poll voters about their support for making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction.

Marisa Demarco

The acting U.S. Surgeon General was in New Mexico Tuesday to talk about ways schools and parents can work together to prevent skin cancer.

Boris Lushniak and New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward met with school officials, parents and students at Bandelier Elementary School in Albuquerque. 

Lushniak said there used to be a time when a tan was a good thing.

prensa420 via Flickr

Commissioners in New Mexico's most populous county have approved a measure that would allow voters to voice their opinion on decriminalizing marijuana.

Bernalillo County commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday on a proposal that would place the marijuana question on the November ballot.

The results of the ballot wouldn't be binding or change any policy. The questions would poll public opinion.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry last month vetoed a measure that would have allowed voters to decide whether to decriminalize marijuana possession in the state's largest city.

Albuquerque Police Department

Albuquerque authorities have released new video footage related to a fatal police shooting but it doesn't show the shooting or the events leading to the deadly encounter.

The lapel camera footage released this week connected to the July shooting of 33-year-old Jeremy Robertson shows little new information except officers walking around the scene.

Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman Janet Blair says no lapel video of the shooting exists.

dharma communications via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The most abundant types of forest in New Mexico are made up of piñon and juniper trees.

A five-year inventory of the state's forested lands shows the popular trees cover more than 13.6 million acres.

The inventory also shows piñon woodlands that are old enough to produce harvest-worthy quantities of pine nuts occupy about 8 million acres in New Mexico.

EcoFlight / http://ecoflight.org/

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comment on a proposed permit for a northwestern New Mexico power plant.

The operator of the Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington plans to upgrade two units at the coal-fired plant to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. The EPA says the installation of what's known as selective catalytic reduction technology will result in an increase in sulfuric acid emissions.

That increase means the power plant is required to get a permit from the EPA that requires the plant operator to minimize the emissions.

Court Eyes Tossing Charges In NM Van Shooting

Aug 26, 2014
New Mexico State Police

A proposed state appeals court order would dismiss charges against a Tennessee woman whose van was chased and shot at by a New Mexico State Police officer during a chaotic October traffic stop.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a New Mexico Court of Appeals judge proposed Monday tossing the criminal case against Oriana Farrell.

National Weather Service

Parts of central and western New Mexico are under a flash flood watch as heavy rains are expected through Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says scattered storms may strike throughout the region Tuesday, bring potential flooding.

Forecasters say parts of the state could see up to two inches of rains. Drier weather is expected later Wednesday.

Lawsuit Argues Medicaid Evaluations Hurt Disabled

Aug 25, 2014
jetheriot via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Family members of developmentally disabled New Mexicans suing the state say a Medicaid assessment system puts recipients of services at risk.

The Albuquerque Journal reports attorneys for eight families asked a judge Wednesday to halt a new method for evaluating recipients to determine their level of services, which can include 24-hour residential care as well as occupational and speech therapy.

Survey Finds Little Gain From Exchange Campaign

Aug 25, 2014
@BeWellNM on Twitter

A survey commissioned by New Mexico's health insurance exchange has found that a campaign to publicize the online marketplace for buying coverage is having little success so far.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the survey of uninsured New Mexicans found that three of five don't even know what an insurance exchange is.

Snake Sightings On The Rise In Southern New Mexico

Aug 25, 2014
Tom Spinker via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Officials in southeastern New Mexico say sightings of one of the most lethal rattlesnakes appear to be on the rise.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Saturday that the Eddy County Sheriff's Department says more snakes have been spotted in yards this year, including the Mojave rattler.

The New Mexico Game and Fish Department says the snake is a type of pit viper that has fangs infused with a neurotoxin that is more potent than some other rattlesnakes.

Treatment for a bite from a Mojave rattler requires different anti-venom.

Jared via Flickr / Creative Commons License

More heavy rain is expected to strike New Mexico this week.

The National Weather Service says up to two inches of rain could hit the central and western parts of the state through Wednesday. Southwestern New Mexico is expected to get the heaviest amount of rain and is an area still struggling with extreme and severe drought.

Last month, heavy rains brought flooding to towns in eastern New Mexico and Albuquerque. The National Weather Service says last month was the fourth wettest July on record for New Mexico.

401(K) 2012 via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A new financial forecast estimates about $285 million will be available in the next budget year for spending increases on state government programs, public education and to offset potential tax cuts.

Officials in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration outlined the revenue projections Monday to the Legislative Finance Committee during a meeting in Las Vegas.

If the Legislature and governor agree to put all $285 million into programs and services, that would allow a 4.6 percent increase in spending in the 2016 fiscal year, which begins next July.

Robbie Howell via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A government report shows that traffic deaths in New Mexico have increased about 20 percent this year.

According to preliminary figures from the Department of Transportation, 204 people have died in traffic accidents from January through July. That's up from 170 fatalities during the first seven months of last year, but down from 224 in 2012.

The department said law enforcement agencies have launched a Labor Day holiday weekend crackdown that will target drunken drivers.

State, local and tribal police plan checkpoints and saturation patrols through Sept. 1.

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