KUNM News

Heath Haussamen / New Mexico In Depth

Martinez Approves Majority Of Bills Passed In Legislature The Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has wrapped up action on about 190 bills passed during the recent legislative session.

Martinez approved nearly 160 bills by a Friday noon deadline, signing several of them during public appearances in Albuquerque. She vetoed about a dozen bills outright and did not take action on about 20 others, resulting in pocket vetoes.

Martinez signed the key $6.2 billion budget Thursday.

Rita Daniels

Court Takes Albuquerque Prosecutor Off Police Shooting Case - The Associated Press

A judge has removed the prosecutor from the case of two Albuquerque police officers charged in the shooting death of a homeless man last year.

Defense lawyers wanted prosecutor Kari Brandenburg disqualified because they believe she has a conflict of interest.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Alisa Hadfield agreed in a ruling Thursday. A special prosecutor will be appointed to handle the case of officers Dominque Perez and Keith Sandy.

Michael Dorausch / michaeldorausch.com

New Mexico Gov Signs Bill To Ban E-Cigarette Sales To MinorsThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation banning the sales of e-cigarettes and nicotine liquid containers to minors in New Mexico.

Sen. John Ryan's bill also requires those containers to be sold in child resistant packaging and prohibits online sales to minors.

The Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Republican says the products are dangerous.

He says nicotine is "addictive and harmful" and can be the "gateway to a lifelong addiction."

Dick DeMarsico / World Telegram & Sun, Wikimedia Commons

Efforts To Rename Hobbs Street After MLK Hits SnagThe Associated Press and Hobbs News-Sun

Despite vocal support a Hobbs official says the southeastern New Mexico city has not received any formal request to rename a portion of a busy street in honor of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that Hobbs development director Kevin Robinson made the announcement this week at a city commissioners meeting, putting the future of the renaming in doubt.

Courtesy San Juan's Citizen Alliance

Albuquerque Withdrawing Support For San Juan Plan - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque City Council has withdrawn its support for a plan to replace part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

The resolution passed last night states the city supports an agreement reached by federal officials, Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and Public Service Co. of New Mexico to shut down part of the San Juan Generating Station in an effort to reduce haze-causing pollution.

Atomicarchive.com via WikiMedia Commons

Thousands Visit Trinity On Anniversary Of Bomb Explosion - The Associated Press and Alamogordo Daily News

Thousands of visitors converged Saturday on the New Mexico site where the first nuclear bomb was detonated nearly 70 years ago.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports White Sands Missile Range officials say more than 5,500 people attended the first of two tours being offered at the Trinity Site this year.

Visitors came from all over the U.S. and included several documentary crews.

hugovk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Fired Albuquerque Officer Faces Excessive Force Lawsuit - The Associated Press

A former Albuquerque police officer, who fatally shot a 19-year-old woman last year and was fired for insubordination, is being sued for excessive force in another case.

Lawyers for Dennis Shoemaker filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque last week against Jeremy Dear stemming from a 2013 arrest.

Keith Weller, Dept. of Agriculture, WikiMedia Commons

New Mexico Regulators To Hold Dairy Hearing – Associated Press

The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission is planning a public hearing to consider changes to the state's dairy regulations.

The hearing will start Monday afternoon in Roswell. Officials say it's possible the proceeding could last all week and more meetings could be scheduled in other parts of the state.

Skarz via Creative Commons

DA: Albuquerque Police Sitting On Shooting Investigations – Associated Press

Albuquerque’s district attorney, who recently sought murder charges against two police officers, says police aren't sending her information on other shootings to review.

Kari Brandenburg sent Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden a letter this week asking about 13 investigations into police shootings her office is waiting to review. She says some of the investigations are 17 months old.

Atomicarchive.com via WikiMedia Commons

Trinity Test Site Opening To Face Protest From Residents – by Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Seven decades after an atomic bomb helped end World War II, families in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin want tourists to know nearby residents later suffered from health problems.

Protesters are planning a demonstration this weekend as the Trinity Test site opens to visitors.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders, says a bomb tested at the site later caused rare forms of cancer for many residents in the area.

inlandwest via Flickr

Labor Officials: New Mexico, West Texas Workers Underpaid The Associated Press

Federal labor officials say oil and natural gas workers in New Mexico and West Texas have been underpaid by more than $1.3 million.

The U.S. Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division made the announcement Monday. The findings stem from an enforcement initiative launched by the division last year.

Officials say overtime violations led to the underpayment of some 1,300 workers.

artotem via Flickr / Creative Commons License

New Mexico Nuclear Enrichment Plant OK'd For Expansion – Associated Press

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given its approval for URENCO USA to expand its nuclear enrichment facility east of Eunice.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that the panel gave the OK last week on URENCO's most recent license amendment application.

That means URENCO can double its capacity over the course of two more phases beyond the current three-phase $4 billion facility.

Steve Terrell via flickr

New Mexico Governor Has Until April 10 To Sign BillsThe Associated Press 

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has until April 10 to act on bills passed during the just-concluded 60-day legislative session.

The bills she doesn't sign by then will be considered pocket vetoed.

Martinez had signed five and vetoed one as of Friday afternoon.

New Mexico lawmakers passed 191 bills during this session. The Albuquerque Journal reports that's the lowest number for a 60-day session since 1949.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NM Officials: Flu Sickened More This Year; Season Not OverThe Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are warning that the flu season is not over.

Officials say more people have been hospitalized in the state this season than in many years.

According to the state Department of Health, the virus hospitalized 40 people per 100,000 this flu season as compared with 29 per 100,000 during 2012-13.

Children under 5 and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Arianna Sena

Transparency Bills A Casualty In NM Legislative Session - The Associated Press

Open government advocates say it wasn't a good legislative session for boosting transparency as lobbying disclosure and campaign finance bills failed.

Of about a dozen bills — from requiring independent groups to disclose campaign donations to a two-year break for legislators who turn lobbyist — only a couple of measures made it to Gov. Susana Martinez's desk.

Jim Clark / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / public domain

Partisan Fighting Also Killed New Mexico 'Kendra's Law' - The Associated Press

Lost in the partisan bickering of the New Mexico Legislature's final moments was a measure aimed at helping some residents with severe mental illness.

Since lawmakers failed to pass the bill, New Mexico remains one of only a handful of states without a "Kendra's Law."

It would have allowed judges in some counties to order patients to take medication and undergo treatment if they are deemed a danger to themselves and their community.

Randy Montoya

Report: Feds To Exceed Costs For Cleaning Up Nuke Waste – The Associated Press

A government watchdog says work to clean up radioactive waste at one of the federal government's premier nuclear laboratories is costing more than expected.

The Government Accountability Office says by the end of the last fiscal year, the National Nuclear Security Administration spent about $931 million to remove contaminated equipment and soil from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

That's $202 million more than the agency's 2006 estimate.

Curtis Gregory Perry via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Albuquerque Police: 1 Dead, Others Hurt In Park ShootingThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police say one person is dead and others are injured following a shooting at a skate park.

A police statement early Monday says the shooting at Los Altos Park was reported shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.

Officer Fred Duran says there are "multiple subjects injured and one subject deceased from the shooting."

Information was still sketchy with Duran saying that many details haven't been determined, including the identities of the victims.

401(K) 2012 via flickr

NM Legislature Rips Through Bills; Wrangling Capital OutlayThe Associated Press 

State lawmakers continue putting finishing touches on dozens of bills as the 52nd New Mexico Legislature's first session heads for the history books.

Among bills lawmakers sent to Gov. Susana Martinez for consideration Friday was a massive $6.2 billion budget. It includes pay raises for new teachers and state police. It also boosts spending for education, the state's child welfare agency, public safety, tourism and economic development.

New Mexico Legislature Heads Into Final StretchThe Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are scrambling to wrap up work on dozens of bills before noon Saturday, and some significant initiatives are still hanging in the balance.

A $6.2 billion budget bill is still sparking last-minute bickering among Republicans and Democrats.

And the fate of hundreds of millions of dollars in capital outlay projects is still undetermined, as is a bill aimed at boosting state lottery sales.

Prayitno via Flickr

Budget, Gambling Compact Pending In New Mexico House - The Associated Press

The fate of a proposed $6.2 billion spending plan that would fund public schools and other government services during the next fiscal year is still unsettled as the New Mexico Legislature approaches adjournment.

Also pending is approval of hundreds of millions of dollars in capital outlay projects and a gambling compact that would clear the way for a handful of American Indian tribes to keep their casinos open.

The 60-day session wraps up Saturday.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque To Award $2M In Contracts To Combat HomelessnessThe Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque will award more than $2 million to six nonprofit organizations to help address homelessness and mental health issues.

Mayor Richard Berry announced the funding Tuesday. He says this shows Albuquerque has a heart for the most vulnerable and that it backs up its concern with substantial resources.

Jena g. . Einar E. Kvaran aka 98.20.23.52 23:59, 1 June 2009, via Wikimedia Commons

NM Senate Approves A $6.2 Billion Budget Bill - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has approved a $6.2 billion spending proposal for the next fiscal year.

Senators Monday night took up a budget bill largely unchanged from what the House approved last month.

The spending plan includes pay raises for new teachers and state police officers. Most department budgets remain flat, but education, the state's child welfare agency and tourism department get more money.

Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Senate Passes Bill Lessening Penalties For Pot Possession - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Two marijuana-related bills have cleared hurdles in the New Mexico Senate and House.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that legislation that would not include jail time for offenders having less than an ounce of pot passed the Senate on Saturday in a 21-20 vote.

Navajohistory via Wikimedia Commons

Navajo Council Approves Referendum On Language Requirements The Associated Press

Funding for the long-delayed Navajo presidential election took a back seat Friday to a provision that would allow voters to decide whether candidates should speak and understand the tribe's language.

Navajo language fluency has loomed over the election ever since a candidate was disqualified last year for failing to prove he met the requirement for the tribe's top post.

Ken Lund / Flickr

Injunction Issued On Services For People With Disabilities - The Associated Press

A federal judge is ordering New Mexico state agencies to reinstate services for people with disabilities pending reassessments.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera this week issued an injunction, ruling that there'd been violations of peoples' rights to due process.

Groups which requested the injunction contended that people receiving benefits and services through a Medicaid program were being harmed, and Herrera agreed.

US National Park Service

Groups Sue Feds Over Drilling In Northwest New Mexico - The Associated Press

A coalition of environmental groups is suing the federal government over the approval of oil and gas drilling permits in northwestern New Mexico.

The groups filed their lawsuit Wednesday as they prepared to rally at the State Capitol. They contend that more development and hydraulic fracturing could harm the environment and sites such as the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The suit names the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Interior Department.

Stephanie Fitzgerald

NM Senate Panel Votes No On Right-To-Work Bill - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A Senate panel has stopped the advance of a right-to-work bill that has drawn scores of people to the State Capitol for hours of hearings.

The Public Affairs Committee voted 5-3 yesterday to block a bill that prohibits requiring workers to join a union or to pay dues as a condition of employment and includes a 50-cent-per-hour minimum wage increase.

via Engaging Peace

Arguments Heard In New Mexico PARCC Testing Contract FightThe Associated Press

Lawyers have submitted arguments in a legal challenge to New Mexico's contract with a testing company that may halt a much-debated assessment exam in the state.

Santa Fe District Judge Sarah Singleton heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could overturn a contract awarded to London-based Pearson and potentially tangle up other states using the same test.

Rio Grande Sun

Fire Inside Espanola Newspaper Office Suspected As Arson - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Authorities believe a fire that broke out in the office of a northern New Mexico newspaper is the work of an arsonist.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that firefighters were called to a fire at the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

Crews contained the blaze to an office before it could spread.

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