Lone GOP Congressman In New Mexico Backs Health Overhaul – The Associated Press
New Mexico's lone Republican congressional representative has joined the GOP majority in taking a step toward overhauling President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
Republican Rep. Steve Pearce said he voted Thursday in favor of the bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act because it will put power back in states' hands on medical care.
New Mexico insurance regulators and advocacy groups on poverty issues warn the GOP plan would shift costs for Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled onto state government, driving up costs or reducing access or both. The state's uninsured rate has been cut in half since 2013 under the expansion of Medicaid.
Pearce says many individuals currently are forced to purchase insurance they may not like, need or be able to afford.
Gov. Says She Has Higher Ed Budget Plan – Santa Fe New Mexican
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says she has a plan to fund higher education after vetoing that item in the state budget, but Democratic legislative leaders say they don’t know what it is.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the governor’s office said in a release the administration had worked on an agreement for weeks with legislative leaders. But top Democrats said there have been no formal negotiations and they do not have specifics on the plan. Democrats hold the majority in the state House and Senate.
The Legislature sued Martinez over vetoes for higher education and legislative agencies. The State Supreme Court is slated to hear the case next week.
Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan told the New Mexican the proposal would not raise taxes, but will include tax reform, “a sweep of legislative pork projects,” and “a sweep of the excess money in the legislative retirement fund.
The leading Republican in the House of Representatives, Nate Gentry of Albuquerque, said he talked with the governor about her proposal and said it was similar to the budget passed by the House.
Belen Priest Fired For Inappropriate Behavior - The Albuquerque Journal
A priest has been fired as associate pastor at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church due to possible inappropriate conduct with an 18-year-old female high school student.
The Albuquerque Journal reports Rev. Jonas Romea is no longer employed with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Rev. John Daniel of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe told a Belen detective that an investigation conducted by the church concluded Father Romea had stated he talked to a juvenile female, kissed her forehead and then told her he liked her pictures on Facebook and wanted to see more of her in shorts.
Belen Police Chief Scott Conner said detectives found no need to further investigate because they believe no criminal act occurred.
Ex-Teacher Who Pleaded Guilty To Meth Charges States Intent – The Associated Press & The Las Cruces
A former New Mexico high school teacher who pleaded guilty to charges of manufacturing and possessing meth says he never successfully produced the drug.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Wednesday 56-year-old John W. Gose says attempting to produce meth had been merely an "intellectual experience."
Gose had said he had no intention of selling meth if his experiment had been successful.
A judge has ordered Gose to undergo a 60-day diagnostic evaluation before sentencing. He pleaded guilty Monday to four meth-related charges.
Las Cruces police arrested Gose last October after a traffic stop.
Officers reported finding an ice chest in Gose's car containing tools to manufacture methamphetamines.
Police later searched his property and found meth ingredients.
Gose taught science at Camino Real Middle School from August 2013 through February 2016.
New Mexico MVD's Computer System In Operation Again – The Santa Fe New Mexican
The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division's computer system is back up and running.
The computer system went down statewide Wednesday due to unspecified technical problems that the agency says meant it couldn't process any computer-based transactions.
An update Thursday morning from MVD says all of its field offices are open for business.
Santa Fe Police Identify Man Shot In Patrol Car Theft – Associated Press
Authorities have released the name of a man who tried to drive away in a patrol car and was fatally shot by a Santa Fe police officer.
New Mexico State Police is investigating the shooting and announced Wednesday that the victim of the April 29 shooting was 33-year-old Andrew James Lucero of Santa Fe.
They say officers were attempting to arrest the suspect after discovering a stolen luxury vehicle in the driveway of an Eldorado home.
Lucero apparently got into the patrol car and put it in drive.
A police officer was trying to remove the suspect from the driver's side door but ended up knocked down and pinned between the car and a tree.
Authorities say the officer fired one shot and Lucero was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gov. Martinez Set To Unveil New Anti-DWI Commercial – Associated Press
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is set to unveil a new anti-drunk driving ad aimed at highlighting how one conviction has changed someone's life.
Martinez is scheduled Thursday to release the new commercial, which will begin airing soon around the state.
The governor also is expected to announce plans for a "Cinco de Mayo" blitz by state police to catch would-be drunken drivers. The blitz will consist of checkpoints by police to find drivers after leaving bars.
Deputies Help Barefoot Man Who Ends Up Being Runaway Inmate – Associated Press
Sheriff's deputies had spotted a man walking barefoot down a New Mexico road with his feet full of cactus, so they offered him a ride.
Turns out, the man had escaped from the state penitentiary by walking out the front door. So instead of a homeless shelter, the deputies put him back behind bars.
The deputies found 30-year-old Raymond Lopez to be the runaway inmate pictured in manhunt flyers.
Lopez has been booked at the county jail on charges of escape and concealing identity.
Lopez told deputies after he had been caught that he found civilian clothes in a "shakedown cell." He put them on and walked out the unlocked front door.
Penitentiary spokesman S.U. Mahesh says a review of procedures will take place and whatever changes necessary for safety will be made.
Political Spending On Santa Fe Soda Tax Tops $163 Per Vote – Associated Press
Political action committees spent at least $163 per vote to influence the outcome of a soda-tax initiative that was resoundingly rejected in a special election in New Mexico's state capital city.
That eclipsed the costs of recent campaigns in other cities, raising the financial stakes in efforts to tax sweetened beverages nationwide.
The soft drink industry and a variety of health and community advocacy groups spent at least $3.25 million on Tuesday's vote in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The city was blanketed with fliers, yard signs, radio spots and social media ads for and against the tax, as professional canvassers knocked on the same doors repeatedly.
Election officials counted 19,915 ballots, with about 58 percent of voters rejecting the tax for early childhood education.
Campaign finance reports show New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg contributed $1.1 million to a pro-tax committee. The American Beverage Association spent $1.3 million against the tax.
New Sponsor To Get Naming Rights To The Pit - Associated Press
A home-remodeling business that operates in four states has bought the naming rights for the University of New Mexico's famed basketball arena and its football stadium for $10 million.
School officials and representatives of Dreamstyle Remodeling gathered at one of the company's showrooms in Albuquerque to make the announcement Wednesday. A New Mexico native, company owner Larry Chavez presented Paul Krebs, UNM's athletics director, with the first payment of $1 million.
The 10-year deal marks the largest philanthropic agreement in the athletic department's history. It also will include contributions for the university's business management school, children's hospital and performing arts center.
The naming rights to the basketball arena were previously held by WisePies Pizza & Salad. The university said last week that it asked the pizza chain to abandon its rights pending a new agreement with another company.
Officials say Dreamstyle signage will be installed at the stadium and arena within the next 60 days.
Technical Problems Stymie New Mexico MVD System – Associated Press
Officials with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division say computers are down statewide due to technical difficulties.
The agency reported Wednesday afternoon that it was unable to process any computer-based transactions.
Officials did not offer any details as to the cause of the difficulties but said technicians were working on the problem.
The agency was still able to perform road tests and Vehicle Identification Number inspections.
Holloman AFB Investigates Cause Of Drone Crash – Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press
Officials at an Air Force base in southern New Mexico say no one was injured after a drone crashed during a training mission.
The Alamogordo Daily News reports the 49th Wing Public Affairs at Holloman Air Force Base says first responders arrived at the Tuesday crash site to assist military and civilian personnel.
Public Affairs spokesman Arlan Ponder says the MQ-9 Reaper had been on its way back to the base when it crashed.
He says an investigation will be done to determine what caused the drone to go down.
The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, remotely piloted aircraft assigned to the base's 9th Attack Squadron. It is deployed against dynamic execution targets and used in intelligence operations.
The aircraft can cost up to $12 million.