KUNM

Gov Links State Economic Growth To Tax Cutting, Santa Fe Police Patrols Amid Motorcycle Gang Tension

Aug 2, 2017

New Mexico Governor Links New Economic Growth To Tax Cutting – The Associated Press

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is linking a spurt of local economic growth to the state's commitment toward cutting taxes and streamlining regulations.

Martinez on Wednesday highlighted a U.S. Department of Commerce report showing that New Mexico's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent between January and March — a faster rate than all states other than Texas and West Virginia.

The oil, natural gas and mining sector was the top contributor to growth in the three leading states. Gross domestic product is the total market value of goods and services produced by labor and property.

Martinez has implemented a gradual reduction of state corporate income tax rates and supports state subsidies to train workers and help relocate or expand businesses in New Mexico.

Santa Fe Police Up Patrols Amid Motorcycle Gangs TensionsThe Associated Press

Police in New Mexico's tourist-popular capital are increasing patrols and 24-hours surveillance amid tensions between two motorcycle gangs.

Santa Fe police spokesman Greg Gurule said Wednesday patrols have been expanded around the area of a drive-by shooting by a member of the Vagos Motorcycle Club. Gurule says the home of a Bandidos Motorcycle Club member also is under 24-hour surveillance after his house was targeted in the shooting.

Gurule says police want to make sure residents and visitors feel safe.

The shooting late Saturday comes amid an ongoing tuft war in New Mexico between the California-based Vagos Motorcycle Club and the Texas-founded Bandidos.

That shooting forced a temporary lockdown at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center when Vagos members crowded an emergency room to visit an injured member.

Patients Can Skip Surprise Emergency-Care BillsThe Associated Press

New Mexico state insurance regulators are making it clear that emergency medical services cannot be billed at higher rates when patients are treated outside an insurance provider's network of doctors and hospitals.

The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance issued a bulletin this week to health insurance companies in response to public concerns about patients who receive surprise bills for services outside of an insurance provider's network.

The bulletin said insurers cannot bill policyholders for balances that accrue from out-of-network care during medical emergencies, clarifying provisions of current law.

The guidance from Insurance Superintendent John Franchini does not apply to the treatment of non-emergency conditions at emergency facilities.

Agency polling shows that about one-third of patients statewide have received large surprise bills over the past two years for out-of-network care.

Albuquerque To Honor Fallen WWII War CorrespondentThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Albuquerque will honor an acclaimed World War II war correspondent that died before he was able to return home.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the writer was known for publishing harrowing, firsthand accounts of the war and the sacrifices the young soldiers made. Pyle was born in Indiana and had planned to move to Albuquerque before he was killed.

New Mexico has honored the writer since the legislature declared Aug. 3 as Ernie Pyle Day in 1945. Event organizers will celebrate Pyle's 117th birthday on Thursday with a keynote address by longtime war correspondent Joe Galloway and a speech by a University of New Mexico journalism professor.

Event organizers and participants hope that Pyle will one day receive his own national holiday.

Missing Juvenile Offender Considered Armed And DangerousThe Associated Press

Authorities are looking for a 15-year-old boy who is missing from a state juvenile facility in Albuquerque.

The New Mexico State Police said Malachi Sanchez is considered armed and dangerous and that he has not returned to the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center since leaving Saturday. Circumstances of the youth's departure from the facility were not released.

He is described as Hispanic, 5-foot-9, 112 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. He has a tattoo on his left hand with three dots and the letter "C''.

The State Police said anyone with information his whereabouts should call 911.

Albuquerque Officer Kills Man After Pulling Over His ScooterThe Associated Press

An Albuquerque police officer killed a man who apparently brandished a gun after he was pulled over on his moped scooter, authorities said.

The unnamed officer attempted to pull over the driver, identified as Robert Savelli, 43, after noticing his scooter didn't have a license plate, department spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said.

Savelli refused to comply with the officer's commands, which led him to confront the driver, Espinoza said.

The officer felt threatened at some point, and responded by opening fire on Savelli, she said. Espinoza refused to discuss the circumstances of the threat, but a spokesman told the Albuquerque Journal that Savelli pointed his gun at the officer.

It's the third deadly shooting this year by officers at Albuquerque Police Department as the agency implements court-ordered reforms following a U.S. Justice Department investigation of its deadly force policies. The 2014 shooting of a homeless man who was holding two knives prompted widespread angry protests in the city and was a major part of the government investigation.

The scathing federal report described a culture of aggression and faulted officers for using unreasonable force with the mentally ill.

Since then, the department has seen fewer deadly police shootings.  Last year officers wounded or killed a total of six people, a drop from nine individuals in 2015.

The department still has a long ways to go, critics say.

"Unfortunately we don't seem to have the systems in place yet in this department to adequately determine whether a use of force is justified or not, and so that's a big part of the problem," said Steve Allen with the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico.

The department is working hard To improve its policies involving use of force and behavioral health reform, Police Chief Gorden Eden said last month.

New Mexico Doctors Challenge Oversight Of Malpractice Fund The Associated Press

Four doctors are accusing New Mexico's insurance superintendent of allowing major hospital chains to tap into a medical malpractice fund despite concerns of insufficient balances.

State district court documents obtained Tuesday show physicians including American Medical Association president-elect Barbara McAneny filed the lawsuit. It alleges New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini allowed 16 hospitals and dozens of outpatient care facilities to tap into an already depleted fund to pay for malpractice liabilities starting in 2009.

The lawsuit alleges that negotiations were conducted in secret by Franchini to access the fund that pays out malpractice liability claims to patients.

It seeks to void the superintendent's actions and reset surcharges in accordance with new studies. Franchini says the allegations are without merit.

House Ethics Panel Clears Ben Ray Lujan The Associated Press

The House Ethics Committee has cleared Democratic and Republican lawmakers in separate inquiries.

The panel said Tuesday it is dropping investigations against Democrat Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico and Republican Roger Williams of Texas.

Lujan, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was accused of using the House chamber to raise money for campaign purposes during a June 2016 sit-in on gun control.

Williams, an auto dealer, was accused of a conflict of interest in offering a 2015 amendment that would have benefited auto dealers.

The ethics panel said neither Lujan nor Williams violated House rules, but cautioned that both acted in ways where mistakes are possible.

A spokesman for Lujan called the complaint politically motivated and without merit.

A spokeswoman for Williams could not immediately be reached.

Utah Sues Over 2015 Gold King Mine SpillThe Associated Press

The state of Utah is suing mine owners and contractors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a massive mine waste spill that fouled rivers in three Western states with a plume of bright-yellow wastewater tainted by arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

Utah Attorney General spokesman Dan Burton said Tuesday the state wants cleanup compensation and damages in the 3-million-gallon Gold King Mine spill that reached the San Juan River and Lake Powell.

The suit says owners of two defunct mines in Colorado allowed the wastewater to build up, and the EPA subcontractors were negligent when they accidently trigged caused the blowout while doing preliminary mine cleanup work in 2015.

New Mexico and the Navajo Nation have sued the EPA over the spill. Burton says Utah hopes to settle with the agency outside court.

New Mexico: Patients Can Skip Surprise Emergency-Care BillsThe Associated Press

New Mexico state insurance regulators are making it clear that emergency medical services cannot be billed at higher rates when patients are treated outside an insurance provider's network of doctors and hospitals.

The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance issued a bulletin this week to health insurance companies in response to public concerns about patients who receive surprise bills for services outside of an insurance provider's network.

The bulletin said insurers cannot bill policyholders for balances that accrue from out-of-network care during medical emergencies, clarifying provisions of current law.

The guidance from Insurance Superintendent John Franchini does not apply to the treatment of non-emergency conditions at emergency facilities.

Agency polling shows that about one-third of patients statewide have received large surprise bills over the past two years for out-of-network care.

Holgate Sworn In As Acting Chief Justice Of Navajo NationThe Associated Press

A retired judge has been sworn in as the acting chief justice for the Navajo Nation.

Tribal officials announced Tuesday that Thomas Holgate was given the oath of office to assume duties during a swearing-in ceremony in Window Rock.

He replaces Allen Sloan, who had been serving as acting chief justice since July 2015 on the largest American Indian reservation in the country. Sloan retired at the end of last month.

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and two associate justices.

Holgate was appointed a judge in 1997 by then-tribal president Albert Hale and retired in 2012. He served as a judge at the Shiprock and Window Rock judicial districts.

Longtime CEO Of UNM Hospitals Says He'll Retire On Oct. 1The Associated Press

The longtime chief executive officer of University of New Mexico Hospitals has announced his retirement.

Steve McKernan says he will retire on Oct. 1, but will stay on in an "emeritus CEO" role through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2018. He will remain a consultant after that.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that administrator Michael Chicarelli will become interim CEO.

McKernan has been with the state's only Level 1 trauma center and academic medical facility since 1980.

He has been CEO since 1996.

McKernan's retirement comes amid UNM's latest bid to build a new hospital.

Funding Issues Delay Work On Navajo Dam RoadThe Associated Press

Funding issues have prompted the state Department of Transportation to delay work on New Mexico Highway 173, also known as Navajo Dam Road.

The Farmington Daily Times reported Monday that the highway stretches from Aztec to the intersection with New Mexico Highway 575 in the community of Navajo Dam.

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Rosanne Rodriguez says the state is delaying and expanding the project in hopes of receiving new federal funds after discovering the well-traveled stretch of roadway did not qualify for an anticipated federal highway improvement grant.

Construction was scheduled for 2016, but was ultimately shelved due to struggles with right of way and utilities. And without grant money, the project has become a part of the fiscal year 2023 state transportation improvement plan.

Eddy County Petitioners Force Tax Increase Special ElectionThe Associated Press

Eddy County voters have gathered enough petition signatures to force a special election to decide if tax increases approved by county commissioners should stand.

The Roswell Daily Record reports the Eddy County Commission in May approved a one-eighth of 1 percent gross receipts tax increase to build a new county detention center and another one-eighth of 1 percent increase to general purpose gross receipts.

Collectively, the gross receipt tax increases would add an extra 33 cents of sales taxes for every $100 spent on goods and services.

Artesia leaders, including Mayor Phillip Burch, spearheaded petition efforts.

Eddy County Clerk Robin Van Natta says the special election could cost about $52,000.

She says it must take place within 60 days of the petitions being deemed qualified.

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