Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — University of New Mexico regents are refusing to approve a task force's recommendations for steps proposed to cover rising costs of retiree health benefits.

The recommendations included requiring employees and the university to make payments into a new trust fund and increasing retirees' share of premiums.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that task force members and other university officials were surprised when the regents refused Tuesday to vote on the proposals.

RATON, N.M. (AP) — Difficult driving conditions are reported in parts of northern New Mexico because of snow, ice and slush from a storm crossing the state Tuesday.

The Department of Transportation says there's ice and slush on a 72-mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Wagon Mount and Raton Pass.

New Mexico is closed between eight miles east of Raton and Folsom due to heavy snow and blizzard conditions.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Another Mexican gray wolf has been found dead in the Southwest, but federal officials have refused to provide any details.

The wolf reintroduction team confirmed in its latest monthly report that the male wolf died in March. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the troubled wolf program, would not say where the animal was found or how it might have died.

This marks what is believed to be the second death this year of an endangered Mexican gray wolf.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — University of New Mexico employees would get smaller paychecks while retirees would pay higher premiums under a task force's recommendations for covering the rising costs of retiree health benefits.

The recommendations submitted to the university's regents include requiring employees and the university to make payments into a new trust fund.

Workers would pay half of 1 percent of their salary in the first year and 1 percent by the third year. That money and university matches would go into the new trust fund.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Las Cruces' public schools plan a new program to enable students to provide school officials with anonymous reports on bullying, drugs, potential suicides and other trouble.

The Las Cruces Sun-News (http://bit.ly/XywxOx ) reports that the program will enable middle and high school students to use text messages, photos, video and a mobile app to anonymously send messages to school officials.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation aimed at simplifying New Mexico's tax code.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Tom Taylor of Farmington targeted the statute that governs the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department and the procedures taxpayers have to follow.

With the governor's signature, the measure will extend deadlines so taxpayers filing amended returns as the result of actions by the Internal Revenue Service will have double the time — 180 days — to file.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg's office is revamping how her office handles cases involving Albuquerque-area police shootings.

Brandenburg says the new process will have prosecutors decide whether there is probable cause that a crime was committed. Then the case will be presented to a grand jury to decide whether to issue an indictment.

A previous process blocked by courts had a special grand jury reviewing cases but not deciding whether cases should be prosecuted.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A judge has ordered some Santa Fe neighbors to stop threatening each other over barking dogs, loud music and access to a subdivision road.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/WHTvRy) that State District Judge Frank Mathew told the feuding neighbors Thursday in the Mission Viejo subdivision not to harass or call one another after a series of bizarre complaints.

Keith Bujold has been in a long fight with neighbor Ernest Kavanaugh Sr. over access to a disputed road that has resulted in threats with pistols.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The commanding officer of the USS Santa Fe visits northern New Mexico this week to learn more about the Pearl Harbor-based attack submarine's namesake city.

Cmdr. Timothy Poe says his 120-member crew is from all over the country but that having the city's name on his ship allows the crew to relate with pride to their own hometowns.

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.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Metropolitan Albuquerque is now seeing its most aggressive pace of home building since 2010.

The Albuquerque Journal cites (http://bit.ly/15oGC1r) figures from the housing-market monitoring service DataTraq that shows building permits for 125 new single-family homes were issued in January.

That's up 18 percent from the 106 permits a year earlier and almost double the 66 permits issued in January 2011.

ANGEL FIRE, N.M. (AP) — An official at the airport in the northern New Mexico community of Angel Fire says a single-engine plane carried a family from Texas when it crashed while taking off.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there were four people aboard the plane that crashed Sunday, including two children, and New Mexico State Police said there were no survivors.

Cause of the crash is under investigation and identities of the victims haven't been released.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — All of the officers and other personnel of the Las Cruces district of the New Mexico State Police can finally fit in the same place for a meeting.

The District Four staff has moved into a new $6 million facility with about four times as much space as the former facility that was built almost four decades ago.

The Las Cruces Sun-News (http://bit.ly/VYbjru ) reports that the old facility became too small around 1990, forcing some personnel to work at another location.

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.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Three New Mexico lawmakers have introduced legislation demanding that the federal government surrender control of millions of acres of public land.

Supporters of the bipartisan bill contend the state would do a better job of managing the land and would no longer have to share natural resource royalties with the federal government.

However, critics say the state would not be able to absorb the costs of managing more land or hiring the hundreds of employees that would be needed.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico has hired a recruiter to bring more black students to the university system.

KOAT-TV report (http://bit.ly/XWidKg) that UNM recruiter Jamila Clayton said this week she is working to get more African American students interested UNM amid low black enrollment numbers.

University shows show that black students make up less than 3 percent of the student body.

Around 38 percent of the school's 32,000 or so students are Latino while 40 percent are white.

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.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are ready to tackle a must-do assignment for the 60-day legislative session.

The House is expected Thursday to debate a state budget proposal that will allocate nearly $5.9 billion next year for government programs and public education.

The measure will increase state spending by $239 million or slightly more than 4 percent.

HOLBROOK, Ariz. (AP) — Law enforcement officers in northeastern Arizona are broadening their reach.

The Navajo County Sheriff's Office and the Navajo Nation have signed a cross-commission agreement that allows the agencies to police one another's territory.

Navajo President Ben Shelly says tribal members who report emergencies on the reservation can face long response times that can be shortened with a call to the sheriff's office.

The two-year agreement outlines the rules for enforcing the laws on the reservation and within Navajo County.

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) — New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a financing boost for road projects across the state.

A nearly $5.9 billion budget proposal heading to the House includes $20 million for the Department of Transportation for major road projects.

The measure also allows the department to spend $35 million from its fund balances for road maintenance.

The department has told lawmakers the need for road and bridge maintenance and construction far exceeds its current budget.

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.


New Mexico lawmakers say all options need to be considered as the state grapples with a persistent drought, dwindling water supplies and legal pressure from neighboring Texas.

Numerous bills have been introduced, from revamping the state's water plan to boosting the number of judges who handle water rights and spending millions of dollars on infrastructure.

Senate Conservation Commission Chairman Peter Wirth says the bills don't provide a "silver bullet" but mark the start of an important discussion on the state's future.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's chile crop acreage has increased in the past two years since it hit a nearly 40-year low in 2010.

Experts speaking at the state's annual chile conference held Tuesday in Las Cruces reported that 9,600 acres were harvested in 2012. That's a slight increase from 2011.

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News (http://bit.ly/UWtIEk ,), New Mexico's acreage dropped from over 12,000 in 2009 to under 9,000 in 2010.

Acreage was over 20,000 as recently as 1998.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An actor from the TV show "Breaking Bad" has won a seat on Albuquerque's school board.

Steven Michael Quezada plays federal drug agent Steven Gomez on the Albuquerque-based show.

He was running unopposed Tuesday for a seat on the city's west side District 5.

There's no incumbent in that district, and Quezada was the only candidate to file for the position.

Three of Quezada's four children attend the Public Academy for the Performing Arts, a charter school where the actor has been active on the governing board.

 A lawyer who died after being shot by a gunman in a Phoenix office was a former reporter with the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The paper reported (http://bit.ly/TlxKH2) that Mark Hummels left the Santa Fe New Mexican in 2001 to attend law school at the University of Arizona.

A publicist for his law firm said Friday that the 43-year-old Hummels died after being placed on life support. He was the second of three people hit by gunfire to die from in the attack.

New Mexico may be spending too little on special education to qualify for perhaps as much as %93 million in aid this year from the federal government.

Legislators were recently told by state education officials that $43 million to $93 million in grants could be withheld in future years by the Feds.