ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal statistics show that efforts to douse the largest of the nation's wildfires last year cost more than $580 million, and it took more than three months in some cases to put out the flames.
A summary by the National Interagency Fire Center also shows more than 80 percent of the 51 largest fires were sparked by lightning. That includes the Long Draw and Holloway fires, which together burned more than 1 million acres and were among the largest in Oregon's history.
ALBQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico legislator says she'll try again next year now that a state Senate committee has rejected a bill to end promotion of third-graders whose reading ability isn't adequate.
The Senate Education Committee rejected the so-called "social promotion" bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Gay Kernan of Hobbs on a 5-4 party-line vote following a nearly four-hour hearing Saturday.
The legislation is a priority of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, but it's been repeatedly rejected by the Democratic-led Legislature.
ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — A southeastern New Mexico gun store has announced that it is hosting a coyote hunting contest following a similar hunt by another gun store that sparked protests.
Larry's Discount Gun Shop and Sporting Goods is organizing a two-day coyote hunting competition starting Saturday. Under the rule of the contest, two-person teams will try to kill as many coyotes as possible with first-place winner getting a pair of semi-automatic rifles.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is asking a court to dismiss an American Indian community's lawsuit seeking all the land within the boundaries of the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico. A Justice Department filing in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque argues that the Jemez Pueblo surrendered rights to claim the land under a 1974 judgment.
JEMEZ SPRINGS, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico water managers are planning to study the water quality of the Jemez River watershed.
The survey will include the Jemez River from its headwaters in northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains down to the village of San Ysidro. A tributary of the Rio Grande, the river cuts through Valles Caldera National Preserve and Jemez Pueblo land.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal advocated by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to increase penalties for human trafficking is heading to the Senate for consideration.
The measure would make it a first-degree felony for human trafficking if the victim was under the age of 16. Convictions could carry a basic sentence of 18 years in prison. That doubles the penalty because the crime is currently a lesser felony.
The proposal would triple the basic penalty — to nine years in prison — for human trafficking if the victim was 16 years or older.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Efforts aimed at preservation of Native American languages would continue with the help of federal funding under legislation introduced by New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Lujan.
The New Mexico Democrat says his bill would reauthorize the Esther Martinez Native Languages Preservation Act for another five years.
The original legislation was brought by former Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson in honor of a Tewa storyteller and linguist who was known for her life's work of preserving her native language and traditions.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is getting 20,000 acre feet of water amid continuing drought.
Scott Verhines, the New Mexico State Engineer and Rio Grande Compact Commissioner for New Mexico, recently announced the water allocation to help farmers and water users in the area.
New Mexico is entering the third drought year in a row. El Vado Reservoir is almost empty and officials say storage restrictions determined by the Rio Grande Compact are in effect. Officials say these conditions place great stress on the entire Rio Grande corridor.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico lawmaker wants to end what he calls the practice by public officials of creating "monuments to me."
Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque says he has introduced a bill that would prohibit any public building from being named after a living person. He says the practice can turn embarrassing, as in the case of the Manny Aragon library at Lowell Elementary School in Albuquerque. Aragon is a former Senate leader serving time in federal prison for accepting kickbacks.
Bernalillo County District Court judges are barring District Attorney Kari Brandenberg's office from using investigative grand juries to probe shootings involving police officers.
Chief Judge Ted Baca and another judge say in a letter to Brandenberg that there's an appearance of a lack of impartiality.
The judges' letter says that's because the investigative grand juries are used only in officer-involved shootings and only after there's been a determination that there's no probable cause for criminal charges against the officers.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico advocacy groups say Walgreens won't allow individual pharmacists' personal religious beliefs to prevent customers from filling birth control prescriptions.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico announced Tuesday that Walgreens told the ACLU and the Southwest Women's Law Center that the company will take steps nationwide to make sure customers received prescriptions regardless of employees' beliefs.
The federal government reports that New Mexico's graduation rate for the 2009-2010 was 67.3 percent. That's below the national average of 78.2 percent. Only the rates in Nevada and Mississippi were lower.
The so-called "average freshman graduation rates" indicate the percentage of 9th graders who go on to graduate within four years.
The rates are being reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico has hired a new company to lobby on its behalf in Washington, D.C. — at nearly double the cost the school has paid in recent years.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/VaTYgJ) that UNM will pay Madison Associates, based in the nation's capital, $237,000 this year for its lobbying services under a one-year contract that could be renewed for three years.
President Bob Frank says the firm will have to earn "every cent we pay them."
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new computer system is skewing the data on unemployment claims in New Mexico.
The state's "fully integrated tax and claims system" launched Jan. 6. But because the switchover was done Jan. 1 to Jan. 6, those collecting unemployment were unable to re-certify or file new claims for unemployment from New Mexico during that time.
Because of the shutdown, the number of claims being reported to the federal government is way down.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawmakers are proposing a tax credit to encourage businesses to hire students receiving graduate degrees in science and technology from a New Mexico college.
The measure is to help stop the so-called brain drain of highly educated professionals leaving New Mexico for jobs in other states after earning a master's or doctorate degree in mathematics, engineering, technology, the sciences or a health-related field.
Employers could receive a tax credit of $5,000 for each qualified graduate that's hired for a full-time job with benefits.