KUNM

High Court Declines To Overturn Gov Budget Vetoes, UNM Reinstates Ski Programs

May 11, 2017

New Mexico Supreme Court Won't Restore Funds To Legislature The Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request to override budget vetoes, leaving negotiations about how to solve the state's budget crisis — and restore funding to the Legislature — in the hands of the governor and lawmakers.

In a two-page order, the court said it was too soon to consider any possible constitutional violations related to Gov. Susana Martinez's vetoes of all funding for the Legislature and state universities in the coming fiscal year.

The Republican governor has called a special session for May 24 in an attempt to resolve a state budget crisis linked to faltering tax revenues and a weak local economy.

The Legislature had argued that Martinez overstepped her authority by defunding the legislative branch of government and all state institutions of higher education.

Martinez had urged the state Supreme Court to stay out of budget negotiations.

For the upcoming special session, she has outlined rough proposals to restore most vetoed funding, but there has been no sign of a compromise with Democratic lawmakers.

U.S. Energy Chief Tours Carlsbad's Underground Nuclear Repository – The Associated Press

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday toured southern New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation's only underground nuclear repository.

The Carlsbad plant was forced to close in February 2014 after an improperly packed drum of waste ruptured and caused a radiation release.

Shipments of waste only recently began making their way to the plant for disposal after state and federal officials cleared the way for operations to resume.

Perry on Wednesday visited the Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico, where nuclear research has been among the main focuses since the lab's founding years during World War II.

He has vowed to advocate for nuclear power as the nation looks for ways to fuel its economy and limit the effects of electricity generation on the environment.

 

2nd Guilty Plea In Fatal Shooting of Albuquerque Teenager - The Associated Press

A second person has pleaded guilty in a drive-by shooting in which an Albuquerque teenager was killed.

Dominic Conyers faces sentencing next week after pleading guilty Thursday to shooting at a dwelling and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the June 2015 killing of 17-year-old Jaden Chavez-Silver.

Conyers' plea agreement calls for a 12-year prison sentence.

Co-defendant Esias Madrid is charged with first-degree murder and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

Nicholas Gonzales was sentenced as a juvenile to one year in custody after he pleaded guilty to shooting at an occupied dwelling resulting in great bodily harm and conspiracy.

Police said Gonzales was driving the car from which the shots were fired.

Charges were dropped against two other suspects.

University Of New Mexico Reinstates Men's And Women's Ski Programs – The Associated Press

The University of New Mexico has reinstated its men's and women's ski programs just one month after announcing they were being dropped due to rising costs and impending budget cuts.

UNM's Board of Regents voted Thursday to overturn the athletic department's recommendation to cut the ski programs following an outpouring of support from students and the skiing community.

School officials say the ski team will be reinstated for the 2017-2018 season.

They say donations from supporters will supplement a somewhat-reduced athletic department budget for the ski team.

The ski team is one of only two UNM athletic programs to ever earn an NCAA title, winning the Division 1 championship in 2004.

20 attorneys general call for independent probe into Russia ­– The Associated Press

New Mexico’s Hector Balderas is one of 20 state attorneys general, all Democrats, calling for an independent special counsel to continue the investigation into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

The group led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey called Republican President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey during the ongoing investigation a "violation of public trust."

The group said in a Thursday letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that only the appointment of an independent special counsel "with full powers and resources" can begin to restore public confidence.

Those signing the letter include the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

New Mexico College Gets OK To Enroll International Students – The Associated Press

Central New Mexico Community College has received federal approval to enroll international students on certain visas.

The Albuquerque-based school recently announced that its Global Education office is now accepting international student inquiries for the fall term. The targeted students are on M and F visas.

Officials say international students seeking a bachelor's degree can take the first two years of many bachelor's degree programs at CNM before transferring to a New Mexico university.

International student applications are being accepted through June 1.

Snow, Rain Help Dampen Wildfire In Gila National Forest ­– The Associated Press

Snow and rain has helped dampen a wildfire that has burned 4 square miles of woodland in the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.

Officials say the lightning-caused fire that started May 1 about 17 miles northeast of Reserve is contained along 17 percent of its perimeter.

Only a handful of personnel and two fire engines are now assigned to the fire.

GOP New Mexico Congressman Mulls Race For GovernorAssociated Press

Republican Congressman Steve Pearce is meeting with community leaders outside his district as he considers whether to run for governor of New Mexico in 2018.

Pearce spokeswoman Keeley Christensen said the congressman was touring counties in northern New Mexico on Tuesday to listen to concerns about the state's direction.

She says Pearce is aware of his status as a potential candidate for governor next year and "will ultimately make a decision based on how he feels he can best serve New Mexico."

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third term in 2018 and no Republican has entered the race.

The Democratic nomination is being sought by businessman Jeff Apodaca and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Pearce currently is serving his seventh term in New Mexico's southernmost congressional district.

CNM Gets OK To Enroll International StudentsAssociated Press

Central New Mexico Community College has received federal approval to enroll international students on certain visas.

The Albuquerque-based school recently announced that CNM's Global Education office is now accepting international student inquiries for the 2017 Fall term. The targeted students are on M and F visas.

Officials say international students seeking a bachelor's degree can take the first two years of many bachelor's degree programs at CNM before transferring to a New Mexico university.

International student applications are being accepted through June 1.

American Indian Pueblo Gets Electric Car Charging StationAssociated Press

An American Indian pueblo is getting the first electric vehicle charging station along the Interstate 25 corridor between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Public Service Company of New Mexico announced this week that the charging station will be placed at Santo Domingo Pueblo thanks to a partnership with PNM, Ugo, and Nissan.

Officials say the Santo Domingo charging station will ease anxiety for electric vehicle drivers traveling between two of New Mexico's biggest cities.

Santo Domingo Pueblo Governor Robert Coriz says the new electric vehicle charging station is part of the tribe's commitment to meet the growing needs of its traveling public.

The electric charging station is the latest in New Mexico. In recent years, motels along Route 66 have installed similar stations.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson To Receive NMSU Honorary DegreeAssociated Press

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is scheduled to receive an honorary degree from New Mexico State University.

The school recently announced that Johnson will be honored Saturday at the university's commencement ceremony. Johnson attended NMSU from 1978 to 1981 and received his bachelor of arts degree in business administration with a major in business systems.

He joined Starbucks in 2009 as a member of its board of directors following stints at IBM, Microsoft, and Juniper Networks. In March 2015, Johnson became Starbuck's president and chief operating officer and assumed the role of CEO in April of this year.

Johnson says he discovered his passion for technology and business at New Mexico State.

US Energy Secretary Touts Nuclear PowerAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says he will advocate for nuclear power as often and as strongly as he can as the nation looks for ways to fuel its economy and limit the effects of electricity generation on the environment.

Perry made the comments during a visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico, where nuclear research has been among the main focuses since the lab's founding years.

Los Alamos played a key role in the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb. Current work centers on nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation and the modernization of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

Perry says nuclear power is a clean, resilient and reliable source of energy and that continued research in the field could end up leading to fresh discoveries that could have environmental benefits.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Perry also said the Trump Administration may continue to support research on climate change at LANL. There have been fears climate change work would be suppressed under Trump.

New Mexico Governor Says Food Tax Under ConsiderationAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she is willing to consider reinstating New Mexico's food tax in an effort to resolve the state's budget crisis.

The Republican governor said Wednesday that she would consider a food tax if it were combined with broader reforms that lower overall tax rates on gross receipts. New Mexico eliminated the gross receipts tax on food in 2004.

Martinez and the state's Democrat-led legislature are locked in a standoff over how to resolve a state budget crisis linked to faltering tax revenues and a stagnant economy.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe says his caucus opposes taxes on food.

Martinez last month vetoed a variety of tax and fee hikes approved by the Legislatures to shore up funding for schools, courts and essential state services.

Senate Blocks Moves To Overturn Obama-Era Rule On DrillingAssociated Press

The Senate has blocked an effort to overturn an Obama-era regulation restricting harmful methane emissions that escape from oil and gas wells on federal land.

The measure failed on a vote of 51-to-49 in the Republican-led chamber.

Republican leaders were seeking to overturn the Interior Department rule under the Congressional Review Act.

President Barack Obama finalized a rule in November that would force energy companies to capture methane that's burned off or "flared" at drilling sites because it earns less money than oil.

Democrats and environmental groups say the rule protects the public health and generates millions in revenue for state, local and tribal governments.

Republicans and industry groups call the rule an example of federal overreach under Obama and say it duplicates state rules in place throughout the West.

Albuquerque Policeman Disciplined In 6 Driving-Related CasesAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An Albuquerque police officer involved in a fatal crash last month reportedly has been disciplined in six driving-related incidents in nine years.

The Albuquerque Journal reports it obtained records on Officer Johnathan McDonnell, who was hired by the city's police department in 2008.

Authorities say McDonnell's police cruiser collided with a woman's car on April 17, killing her 6-year-old son and critically injuring her 9-year-old daughter.

At the time of the crash, McDonnell was responding to a report of a machete-wielding teenager at a grocery store.

The Journal says the police department gave McDonnell letters of reprimand for car accidents in November 2009, October 2012 and August 2014.

He was disciplined with suspensions of between eight and 28 hours for crashes in June 2015, February 2016 and June 2016.

School District Considers Cutting Jobs, Changing ProgramsSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A superintendent is recommending cutting jobs and offices and merging three alternative high school programs at a New Mexico school district in light of budget constraints.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia did not say which jobs would be cut or what changes will be made to special education programs at a Tuesday meeting.

Garcia says eliminating 12 jobs would save the district $600,000. She says officials will consider all positions for possible cuts.

Garcia predicts moving two alternative high school programs into a single rental property would save the district $470,000.

The state Public Education Department expects school districts across New Mexico to tighten their budgets by May 30. The school board is expecting to approve its budget by May 16.

Navajo Nation Looking For Housing Authority ReplacementsGallup Independent, Associated Press

The Navajo Nation president has signed an emergency bill that begins the immediate search for new housing authority board commissioners.

The Gallup Independent reports Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed the emergency resolution Saturday to immediately replace the board. Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie says a committee will review legislation to confirm three new members Thursday. The eight current members' terms will expire as soon as new members are confirmed.

The emergency legislation came after member of a U.S. Senate Committee probed into Navajo housing dollars and threatened to hold back funding and turn over the program's leadership.

According to the legislation, the board had failed to expend large amounts of annual federal funding. Begaye also found that board used the part of the money for trips, meetings and other personal expenses.

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