The Associated Press

Kaiser Family Health Foundation

A new national study says the cost of medical plans available through New Mexico's health insurance exchange likely will be lower than in many other states.

New Mexico's top insurance regulator said uninsured individuals also will find more insurance options through the exchange than currently are available in the private market.

Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said people who qualify for federal subsidies can expect to buy their insurance through the exchange at costs lower than current market rates.

Wikimedia Commons

  A group representing New Mexico counties is asking the state's highest court to decide whether gay marriage is legal.

The Association of Counties and clerks statewide filed a petition Thursday with the state Supreme Court. They're seeking clarity in a legal dispute that's been rapidly changing in the past two weeks since a county clerk in southern New Mexico independently began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Since then, seven other counties followed — some because of court orders.

Tim Brown Architecture via Flickr

Federal land managers have proposed limiting the number of parcels to be leased for oil and natural gas development near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.

The Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday released its environmental assessment for the lease sale that will take place in January. The agency has proposed cutting the number of available parcels to just four.

The industry initially nominated 38 parcels totaling more than 19,000 acres. One of those was less than a quarter-mile from the park's boundary.

Lightning_Todd via Flickr

The New Mexico Game Commission has voted again in opposition of federal legislation that calls for transferring management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service.

The commission voted unanimously Thursday after taking public comment during its meeting in Grants.

Its initial vote in May was challenged by the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. The group accused the commission of violating New Mexico's open meeting law by not including the issue on the agenda.

quinn.anya via Flickr

Investigators are looking into challenges that American Indian tribes face in administering federal housing funds.

Representatives from the U.S. Government Accountability Office are visiting the Navajo Nation this week as part of the study mandated by Congress.

American Indian tribes or their designated housing entities receive some $650 million a year in Indian Housing Block Grant funding under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

SalFalko via Flickr / Creative Commons

Behavioral health providers under investigation for possible overbillings, mismanagement and fraud have lost an appeal of a court ruling that allows New Mexico to continue to withhold Medicaid payments.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday dismissed the appeal by eight nonprofit providers.

A federal judge in Albuquerque last month denied the providers' request for an order stopping the state from freezing payments for mental health and substance abuse services.

Denisse ~*~ via Flickr

  New Mexico may open as a museum the site of the 1980 bloody prison riot.

State Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel says strong public interest in tours of the closed "Old Main" prison offered during last year's New Mexico centennial celebration sparked the idea for a permanent museum.

Old Main was closed in 1988, eight years after the February 1980 riot in which inmates killed 33 fellow prisoners in a violent clash that included beheadings, amputations and burned bodies.

nicodeux via Flickr

UPDATE 8/5 4p:  A federal judge in Albuquerque has postponed until Thursday a bond hearing for the animal rights groups who won a temporary ban on domestic horse slaughter.

The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue and others on Friday won a temporary restraining order that blocked plans by companies in Roswell, N.M., and Sigourney, Iowa, to start slaughtering horses this week.

Another Severe Storm Hammers Albuquerque

Jul 27, 2013
Elaine Baumgartel

  Residents are cleaning up and authorities are working to fix traffic lights after a powerful storm swept through the Albuquerque area.

The storm Friday evening brought heavy rain and strong winds that caused power outages to thousands and sparked street flooding.

Albuquerque Emergency Management officials urged residents early Saturday to avoid major roadways and thoroughfares as worker clean up the aftermath.

Albuquerque police say the severe weather knocked down trees, utility lines and flooding roadways.

Funeral arrangements have been announced for David F. Cargo, who became the youngest governor of New Mexico and served two terms in the turbulent 1960s.

Cargo died last Friday at age 84. His family says he had been in an Albuquerque nursing home for about two years following a stroke.

The maverick Republican served in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1963 to 1966 before being elected governor at age 37.

Cargo's body will lie in state in the New Mexico State Capitol's rotunda in Santa Fe from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, followed by a memorial service.

Authorities have ordered the evacuation of the top floor of the New Mexico Capitol after a suspicious substance was found in mail sent to the governor's office.

A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez says front office staff was processing and sorting incoming mail Monday afternoon when a white powdery substance came out of one of the envelopes.

Spokesman Enrique Knell says staff immediately isolated themselves, then called the Department of Public Safety and State Homeland Security Department for directions on how to respond.

Crews working to tame two wildfires in New Mexico hope to begin flood prevention measures after recent favorable weather helped slow the blazes' growth.

Officials said Thursday that the Jaroso Fire in the steep canyons of the Pecos Wilderness in the Santa Fe National Forest has increased the potential for flash flooding, mud and debris flows as monsoon season looms. Heavy rains could impact several communities, homes, roads, and other infrastructures adjacent to and downstream from the burned area.

David F. Cargo, a maverick Republican who became the youngest governor of New Mexico and served two terms in the turbulent 1960s, has died at the age of 84.

Family members confirmed Cargo died early Friday at an Albuquerque hospital after falling ill the evening before.

Known as "Lonesome Dave," Cargo championed the film industry and established the first state film commission. He was an early advocate of a policy for apportioning legislative seats that has altered the political landscape over several decades.

An agreement to vastly increase fencing, patrols and high-tech monitoring along the U.S.-Mexico border has been formally unveiled in the Senate.

The measure backed by Democrats and Republicans is an amendment to a sweeping immigration bill that, with its inclusion, now looks headed for passage next week with substantial bipartisan support.

The amendment would double Border Patrol agents, add hundreds of miles of fencing, and spend billions on everything from helicopters to drones to watchtowers.

Mike Gillespie via Flickr

UPDATE 7p: A furious wildfire torching through the mountains of southern New Mexico's Gila National Forest has grown to 127 square miles.

Fire officials say the Silver Fire continued to burn Tuesday to the north and west as crews battled the blaze amid dry and breezy conditions.

The fire is still about 5 miles west of the nearest community, but the flames have already burned through entire grazing areas and some ranches. That has left ranchers in this drought-stricken corner of the state nowhere to turn to find feed for their cattle.

Avelino Maestas via Flickr

With each dry thunderstorm that moves across New Mexico, the chance of another wildfire breaking out goes up.

Crews are battling a handful of blazes in the Santa Fe National Forest, on private land near Whites Peak and in rugged territory in southern New Mexico.

The flames are being fueled by overcrowded forests, the terrain and dry conditions.

However, New Mexico State University wildland fire management specialist Doug Cram says the wind hasn't been as big of a factor. In 2011 and 2012, the state broke records with three massive wind-driven wildfires.

Governor Susana Martinez has appointed former Republican state legislator James Hall of Los Alamos to a commission that oversees state planning of computer systems.

Hall was named to the 15-member Information Technology Commission, which reviews and approves information technology plans and initiatives for the state.

Law enforcement officials in eastern New Mexico are teaming up this week to search for more than 100 fugitives.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler says dozens of state and local law enforcement officers will be working on the sweep for felony absconders in Roosevelt and Curry counties over the next several days.

He says officials will be looking for people who over the past decade have been arrested, indicted and released from jail, but then failed to come back to court as ordered.

Memorial Day weekend marks the kickoff and 84th anniversary of Carlsbad Caverns' summer bat watching program.

Park rangers have presented summertime bat flight programs since 1929, making Carlsbad Caverns National Park one of the best-known bat colonies in the world.

During the nightly programs, rangers dispel myths and extol the virtues of bats as the nocturnal creatures spiral out of the cavern on their nightly forage for insects.

The nightly number of bats fluctuates depending on weather and temperature.

New Mexico Department of Health officials want to help any victims of an unlicensed tooth doctor who was operating as a "mobile dentist" out of a sedan around Santa Fe.

State health officials are offering counseling and testing services for any victims of a man known as "El Dentista."

The services include no-cost confidential blood tests and referrals for additional services if needed.

Santa Fe police are trying to build a strong case against 36-year-old Eliver Kestler, also known as Eliver Lopez.

The League of United Latin American Citizens says two recent cases of Spanish being banned at New Mexico high school games are examples of a "disturbing" pattern.

Ralph Arellanes, New Mexico LULAC state director, said Monday that the group has heard of a least five cases of high school players being ordered this school year not to speaking Spanish. Arellanes says LULAC will begin an aggressive effort to monitor future cases, and if necessary, will file lawsuits.

The University of New Mexico says it has reached an agreement in principal with former men's basketball coach Steve Alford over his buyout.

Alford said in April he was willing to pay a $200,000 buyout for leaving the Albuquerque school to take a job at UCLA, but he wouldn't pay the $1 million payment that New Mexico wanted.

The dispute stemmed from the timing of his announcement and a term sheet he had signed just weeks before agreeing to a new 10-year contract with New Mexico that included a $1 million buyout.

New Mexico's highest court is allowing the state's top water manager to decide proposed water rights transfers to increase flows in the drought-stricken Pecos River.

The state Supreme Court ruled Monday the state engineer's office can move ahead with an administrative hearing on a proposal to transfer water rights to allow more pumping of groundwater near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico. The water will go by pipeline into a reservoir to boost river flows.

Leasepics via Flickr

A gun-rights group has won a preliminary injunction that will keep New Mexico from enforcing part of its concealed handgun carry law.

The Second Amendment Foundation sought the injunction on behalf of Rio Rancho resident John Jackson, a legal immigrant who was denied a concealed carry permit. Under New Mexico law, permits are granted only to U.S. citizens.

The ruling handed down late last week by Chief U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo blocks the state from enforcing the citizenship provision when it comes to qualified applicants who are legal residents.

Monday marks the beginning of daytime watering restrictions in Bernalillo County.

Those who use sprinkler irrigation systems between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. will be subject to fines.

Katherine Yuhas of the Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says only about half of the water reaches the ground when residents water during the hottest and windiest part of the day. The other half evaporates.

Outdoor irrigation accounts for 40 percent of the water authority's overall use.

Santa Fe, Roswell and Hobbs could lose their airport control towers because of federal budget cuts.

Officials with American and United airlines, which service the small airports, have declined to comment on whether such cuts would impact service.

Towers at the three small airports, as well as the general aviation Double Eagle Airport in west Albuquerque, are on a list of nearly 200 being eyed for possible closure if across-the-board federal budgets cuts that took effect Friday stay in place. The FAA is expected to announce the final cut next week.

Barron Jones

(UPDATED 1/24/13) -  A private service will be held for the Griego family Friday.

15 year old Nehemiah Griego apparently gave a gruesome and very detailed confession to detectives after his arrest for shooting and killing five immediate family members.

Read latest details on confession from KOAT-TV

(UPDATED 1/23/13am)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A group of Santa Fe-area homeowners is appealing Santa Fe County's decision to allow construction of a church where members drink a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament.

The six Arroyo Hondo homeowners object to the county spending about $400,000 to extend a waterline and build a sewage-treatment system there.

The notice of appeal filed in state court Wednesday argues using taxpayer money violates New Mexico's anti-donation clause and the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.

State officials have awarded a contract to begin safeguarding more than two dozen abandoned mines near Deming.

The Mining and Minerals Division says the $475,000 contract with Duran Bokich Enterprises represents the first of a multiple-phase project involving old mines in the Florida and Little Florida Mountains. The mines are on private property and land managed by the federal government.

Before 1918, the ores recovered from mines in the area were mostly lead, zinc, silver, copper and some gold. After that, manganese and fluorite were produced in large quantities.

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Sheriff's deputies in San Juan County have seized four emaciated horses from a property outside Aztec they say were at risk of dying as a winter storm moved in.

Sheriff's officials say they took the horses to a local veterinarian for treatment until they're healthy enough to be released.