The Latest: Gov Martinez Defends Vetoes In Court, Feds Release Endangered Wolf Pups

May 6, 2017

The Latest: New Mexico Governor Defends Vetoes In CourtAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is urging the state Supreme Court to stay out of a budget standoff with state lawmakers.

The Martinez administration filed a briefing Friday with the high court that defends the governor's decision to veto funding to the Legislature and state institutions of higher education for the coming fiscal year.

It says the GOP governor never abolished the Legislature or any state educational institutions and notes her decision Friday to call a special legislative session to rewrite the budget.

The Democratic-led Legislature says the governor's vetoes have upset the balance of powers between branches of government outlined in the state's constitution. Their lawsuit asks the Supreme Court to rescind the line-item vetoes.

New Mexico Electric Utility Agrees To Settle Rate DisputeAssociated Press

New Mexico's largest electric provider has reached a settlement with regulators, the state attorney general and others over a rate increase scheduled to take effect next year.

The parties say the settlement was filed Friday with the state Public Regulation Commission, which has the final say.

The agreement calls for a two-step increase in rates over the next two years.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico estimated the average monthly residential customer bill would increase by less than $6 in 2018 and by less than $5 in 2019.

While the utility has proposed eliminating coal-fired power generation from its portfolio by 2031, the environmental group New Energy Economy took issue with the settlement. The group objects to the utility being able to recover the costs of pollution-control equipment installed at the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant.

Feds Release Endangered Wolf Pups In New MexicoAssociated Press

Federal wildlife officials say they have successfully placed two captive-born Mexican gray wolf pups into a wild den with a foster family.

They confirmed this week's release Friday, a day after it was made public that the state Game and Fish Department cleared the way for a cross-fostering project aimed at boosting genetic diversity among wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

The state this week issued a permit allowing for the placement of the pups.

As a condition, for each pup released into the den, one pup had to be removed and placed in captivity.

New Mexico officials were adamant that the number of wolves in the wild remain unchanged as a result of the permit. The state and Fish and Wildlife are still locked in a court battle over wolf releases.

Interior Releases List Of National Monuments To Be ReviewedAssociated Press

The Interior Department has released a list of 27 national monuments it is reviewing under a presidential order, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.

A list released Friday includes 22 monuments on federal land in 11 states and five marine monuments in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The review includes a huge reserve in Hawaii established in 2006 and expanded by President Barack Obama.

The reviews were expected under an executive order issued last month by President Donald Trump, but the White House had not released a list of specific projects.

Trump's April 26 order could upend protections put in place under a 1906 law that authorizes the president to declare federal lands and waters as monuments and restrict their use.

NTSB Report On Air Ambulance Crash Blames Refueling ErrorAssociated Press

A final report on a 2014 air ambulance crash says use of the wrong fuel was the probable cause, resulting in engine damage and power loss after the plane took off from Las Cruces.

The National Transportation Safety Board says a technician inadvertently put jet fuel into the plane instead of aviation gasoline, the pilot failed to catch the error and it was made possible because the jet-fuel nozzle should have been larger so it couldn't be used in a plane needing aviation gas.

The crash killed three crew members and a patient.

The NTSB soon after the crash said the pilot was present when the plane got the wrong fuel, and a 2016 NTSB safety alert about refueling hazards cited the size of the nozzle used at Las Cruces.

Man Pleads Guilty In Killings Of Women At Phoenix-Area HomeAssociated Press

One of two men charged with murder in the 2016 killings of two women in one woman's Phoenix-area home has pleaded guilty.

Officials say Andrew Lauro pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of first-degree murder and burglary in the killings of 70-year-old Barbara Leslie of Surprise and 75-year-old Ruth Schwed, a friend visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Judge Erin Otis of Maricopa County Superior Court is scheduled to sentence Lauro on June 5.

Police said the victims were found lying on the living room floor with expended shell casings near their bodies.

Leslie's SUV was missing from the home, but it was found at a Phoenix-area apartment complex.

The County Attorney's Office says co-defendant Montez Lavell Wright III of Southfield, Michigan, awaits trial.


Immigration Advocates Protest At Border Patrol HeadquartersAssociated Press

Immigration advocates protested President Donald Trump's proposed spending hike for border and immigration enforcement by blocking the U.S. Border Patrol headquarters' driveways.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports about 150 advocates protested Thursday afternoon. The protests had begun at a Walgreens parking lot before a portion of the people moved to the border patrol headquarters.

Community organizer Johana Bencomo says she is against family separations that have been going on. She says the officers operate with little accountability and should have their funding cut.

The protests had been the second of its kind in recent months. In February, immigration advocates blocked parts of North Main Street for about 45 minutes.

Much of the activity of the Las Cruces Border Patrol Station goes toward running highway and interstate checkpoints.

New Off-Highway Vehicle Park Being Built In Farmington AreaAssociated Press

A new off-highway vehicle park is being built near Farmington.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says the park is being constructed in the Brown Springs area of the federal Bureau of Land Management's Glade Run Recreation Area.

The state agency says it contributed $600,000 from the Trail Safety Fund for construction of the park, which will include a small riding track for youths, a skills training track, primitive camp sites, toilets and a pavilion.

Off-highway motor vehicle registration and user fees support the Trail Safety Fund.