Monday News Update: NM Floods' Wrath Also Left Some Drought Relief

Sep 23, 2013

GOP Lawmakers Oppose Gay Marriage In Court Filing  Associated Press

Nearly two dozen current and former Republican legislators are urging New Mexico's highest court to declare that state law prohibits same-sex marriage.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the legislators with the state Supreme Court in a case that could resolve whether gay marriage is legal in New Mexico.

Gay marriage supporters also filed written arguments with the court on Monday.

At issue is an Albuquerque judge's ruling last month that it's unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court plans an Oct. 23 hearing in the case.

The GOP lawmakers said anti-discrimination protections in the state constitution do not provide a legal right to marriage for same-sex couples. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and other groups disagree.

NM Floods' Wrath Also Left Some Drought Relief - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

Officials say flood damage from recent storms struck 25 of New Mexico's 33 counties but the heavy rains brought some relief amid extreme drought.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that this month's rain provided significant relief for New Mexico's drought yet left places like Albuquerque well short of its 36-month average.

Still, water supply calculations showed that the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico came out ahead. Pecos reservoir storage for area farmers went from 11 percent full to 92 percent in a space of less than two weeks.

Elephant Butte, the Rio Grande's largest water storage reservoir, which holds 2 million acre feet of water, gained more than 50,000 acre feet of water in the storm. It rose from 4.4 percent to 5.9 percent full.

City: Diesel Fuel Leaked Into Santa Fe Reservoir - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

Officials say a small amount of diesel fuel has leaked into one of Santa Fe's municipal reservoirs.

Water utility director Nick Schiavo told the Santa Fe New Mexican that city water staff and the city contractor responsible for the spill worked to clean it up Friday and Saturday.

RMCI, a contractor hired by the city to take down an old water intake tower in the Nichols Reservoir and build a new one, had been draining water from Nichols into the Santa Fe River since early September before beginning demolition of the old tower.

The contractor brought in a diesel-powered pump to suck out the remaining water and pipe it into the river. But a line running from a 50-gallon barrel of diesel fuel near the reservoir began leaking.

Los Alamos County Lowest Uninsured Rate In NM - Associated Press

The Census Bureau reports that Los Alamos County has among the lowest uninsured rates in the nation.

The federal agency estimates that 4.7 percent of the county's population under 65 lacked health insurance in 2011. Only Norfolk County in Massachusetts had a lower uninsured rate — 3.1 percent.

The Census Bureau released a report last month on county-level insurance coverage.

McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico had the highest uninsured rate — 31.8 percent — among the state's 33 counties.

Statewide, more than a fifth of New Mexicans lacked health insurance.

In New Mexico, as with all states, the uninsured rate is higher for adults than children.

Nearly 29 percent of New Mexican ages 18 to 64 lack health insurance, but about 10 percent of children are uninsured.

Upper Fruitland Chapter OKs Navajo Mine Purchase - Associated Press and The Farmington Daily Times

Navajo Upper Fruitland Chapter members have passed a resolution in support of the Navajo Nation purchasing Navajo Mine.

The Daily Times reports that residents at a chapter meeting last week voted in favor of supporting the Navajo Transitional Energy Company LLC becoming owners of the mine.

The tribe is continuing to examine whether or not to purchase the mine, which supplies coal to the Four Corners Power Plant via its owners, BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal. The mine is located about 19 miles southwest of Farmington in Fruitland.

So far, Upper Fruitland is the only chapter near the mine's operation to issue a resolution voicing an opinion on the matter. The mine has operations within the chapter boundaries.