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NM Approves Nurse Licensure Bill, Meow Wolf Joins Venture In Nevada

Jan 18, 2018

New Mexico House Approves Nurse Licensure BillThe Associated Press

The New Mexico House of Representatives has voted unanimously to join a new nurse licensure compact that is shared with at least 25 other states.

The House voted 68-0 today in favor of a bill that allows nurses who are licensed in New Mexico to work in participating states and vice versa. Gov. Susana Martinez supports the proposed legislation.

Republican state Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales is sponsored the bill and says the compact is crucial for outlying areas that depend on nurses who cross state lines.

The new compact adds criminal background check provisions and creates a new multi-state rule making commission.

Arts Startup Meow Wolf Joins Entertainment Venture In NevadaThe Associated Press

The New Mexico-based startup company for immersive art installations known as Meow Wolf has joined a new retail and entertainment venture slated for Las Vegas, Nevada.

Meow Wolf announced Thursday that it has signed on as a tenant in an entertainment complex that will offer live music, festivals, corporate events and e-sports video game tournaments, adjacent to retail and dining options.

Earlier this month, Meow Wolf announced it was moving forward with a stand-alone exhibit space and music venue in downtown Denver.

In Santa Fe, the for-profit company operates a popular interactive exhibit in a converted bowling alley that combines eye-popping psychedelic design work with narrative storytelling. The Santa Fe location includes a gift shop, children's art studio, food trucks, and a bar for wine and craft beer.

Guilty Plea In Hacker-For-Hire Conspiracy CaseThe Associated Press

A New Mexico man accused of paying hackers to sabotage websites affiliated with his former employers and state agencies has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Minnesota.

The plea from John Kelsey Gammell avoids a federal trial on hacking conspiracy charges. The FBI says the case represents a growing form of cybercrime in which professional hackers are paid to inflict damage on individuals, businesses and others who rely on digital devices connected to the web.

The Star Tribune says Gammell admitted in federal court in St. Paul Wednesday to engaging in a campaign of cyberattacks against at least three dozen websites between 2015 and 2017, including former employers, banks, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

A sentencing date has not been set.

New Mexico Spending Plan Overlooks Environment AgencyThe Associated Press

An advocacy group for environmental protection in New Mexico is highlighting the need to restore funding for the state's lead environmental agency.

The Environmental Defense Fund said in a report released Thursday that state general fund spending was reduced and never restored to the Department of Environment at the outset of the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez.

Legislative Affairs Director Jon Goldstein says state efforts to protect clean air and water are more important than ever as the Trump administration curbs environmental regulation and enforcement and local oil and natural gas exploration accelerate.

The Legislature has prioritized educational spending increases and recommended no change to the budget allocation for the Environment Department. The agency employs about 600 people and has asked for about $11.4 million in general funds.

Mom: Helicopter Crash's Sole Survivor DistraughtThe Associated Press

The mother of the lone survivor of a New Mexico helicopter crash that killed five people, including a Zimbabwe opposition leader, says her daughter is distraught.

Her voice breaking, Martha Cobb told The Associated Press on Thursday that her 39-year-old daughter, Andra, said she escaped the helicopter and passed at least one body on the ground before it burst into flames.

The co-pilot was Andra Cobb's father, Paul, and her longtime partner, Charles Burnett III, a wealthy Houston-based businessman, also died Wednesday. Andra Cobb was hospitalized with broken bones.

Martha Cobb says she and her husband befriended Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett and his wife while traveling on cruises.

Friends say the group was heading to the Emery Gap Ranch, a sprawling, mountainous property that Burnett purchased in 2017.

Family Of Woman Killed By Albuquerque Police Settles LawsuitAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The family of a 19-year-old woman who was fatally shot by Albuquerque police in 2014 has settled its wrongful death lawsuit against the city and a former officer involved.

The lawyer for the family of Mary Hawkes told the Albuquerque Journal on Wednesday that the case has been settled although documents haven't yet been finalized or filed with the court.

Lawyer Shannon Kennedy didn't disclose terms of the settlement, which comes months after a judge granted the family's request seeking sanctions against the city for failing to preserve vital evidence surrounding the shooting.

Authorities say Hawkes was suspected of stealing a truck in April 2014 and was fatally shot by former police officer Jeremy Dear during a foot chase.

Dear was fired in the months following the shooting.

New Mexico Utility Weighs Latest Rate ProposalAssociated Press

Officials with New Mexico's largest electric utility have yet to say whether they will support the latest revision of a proposed rate increase that has been approved by state regulators.

A divided Public Regulation Commission approved the measure on a 3-2 vote during a meeting Wednesday.

The panel gave Public Service Co. of New Mexico and other parties that have been involved in negotiations over the past year until Friday to sign off on the revamped proposal.

Utility spokesman Pahl Shipley says company officials are still reviewing the proposal.

The commission's proposal calls for spreading out a roughly 1 percent increase over two years. The utility's calculations show the average increase would likely be closer to 1.4 percent after other adjustments are factored in.

PNM had initially sought a 14 percent rate hike when it first approached the commission last year.

New Mexico Races To Meet Nurse Licensure DeadlineAssociated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are racing to approve a law that allows nurses licensed in New Mexico to work in participating states and vice versa.

New Mexico has until the end of Thursday to join a new nurse licensure compact that is shared with at least 25 other states as an older agreement expires.

Republican state Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales is sponsoring the bill and says the compact is crucial for outlying areas that depend on nurses who cross state lines.

The bill was scheduled for a House vote Thursday before it can be signed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Senate approval on Wednesday was unanimous.

The new compact adds criminal background check provisions and creates a new multi-state rule making commission.

New Mexico Oil And Gas Lease Sale Nets $17MAssociated Press

The State Land Office has collected more than $17 million from its most recent oil and gas lease sale.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says 5 million barrels of oil are produced every month on state trust lands. He says the record-setting trends mean more money is flowing to public schools and other beneficiaries.

He says January's sale brings fiscal year earnings-to-date to nearly $122 million, just shy of the $123 million record set in fiscal year 2012.

Nearly two dozen tracts covering more than 5,600 acres in Chaves and Lea counties were offered Tuesday.

Texas-based Ameredev II paid $6.4 million for 320 acres in Lea County. Petrogulf Corp. of Colorado bid more than $1 million for 80 acres in the same county.

New Mexico Spending Plan Overlooks Environment AgencyAssociated Press

An advocacy group for environmental protection in New Mexico is highlighting the need to restore funding for the state's lead environmental agency.

The Environmental Defense Fund said in a report released Thursday that state general fund spending was reduced and never restored to the Department of Environment at the outset of the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez.

Legislative Affairs Director Jon Goldstein says state efforts to protect clean air and water are more important than ever as the Trump administration curbs environmental regulation and enforcement and local oil and natural gas exploration accelerate.

The Legislature has prioritized educational spending increases and recommending no change to the $11.4 million general fund allotment for the Environment Department. The agency employs about 240 people under an overall budget of nearly $24 million.

Albuquerque Mayor Wants Police To Clear Rape Kit BacklogAssociated Press

Albuquerque police have two months to develop a plan to clear the backlog of untested evidence kits from sexual assault investigations.

At a news conference Wednesday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed an executive order calling upon police to present a plan by mid-March. He expects the order to ensure the backlog will finally be cleared, and that it will help in solving cases and identifying offenders.

Keller left his post as state auditor and took office as mayor of Albuquerque last month.

As auditor, he and his staff issued reports underscoring the extent of New Mexico's backlog, with findings that showed there were more than 5,000 untested rape evidence kits from sexual assaults statewide. Seventy-five percent are in an Albuquerque crime lab.

New Mexico Gov. Opposes Pay Hike For PoliticiansAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is threatening to veto any bill that focuses on pay raises for politicians.

Lawmakers on the state's lead budget writing committee are recommending a post-election salary increase of 10 percent for statewide elected officials including the governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Martinez spokeswoman Emilee Cantrell said in an email Wednesday that the outgoing governor opposes the proposed raises and wants to focus state spending on public school classrooms, employment programs and a crackdown on crime.

Raises under the legislative proposal would take effect on Jan. 1, 2019 — after fall general elections for governor and several statewide offices. It would be the first salary increase for those offices since 2002. Martinez cannot run for re-election this year.

New Mexico Man In Front-End Loader Chase Shot By DeputiesEastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

New Mexico authorities say a man who used a front-end loader to try to flip an SUV and led deputies on a chase is hospitalized after being shot by sheriff's deputies.

State police said in a statement that the confrontation happened in the small city of Portales near Texas.

The statement issued Tuesday said James Wallace McFarlin, 48, was shot Monday by Roosevelt County deputies after refusing to stop the front-end loader and driving it through fences.

McFarlin was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries at a hospital in Lubbock, Texas.

No information was released on a possible motive.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports that resident Juan Espinoza said McFarlin was a neighbor and was using the loader to flip his own vehicle and break windows in his own home.

Archbishop In New Mexico Sees Bigotry In Trump CommentsAssociated Press

Roman Catholic Archbishop John C. Wester says comments about immigration attributed to President Donald Trump "reflect bigotry" and that immigrants from poor countries made the U.S. great.

Wester spoke Wednesday on the sidelines of a breakfast for New Mexico state lawmakers at a parish hall in Santa Fe.

The leader of New Mexico's largest Roman Catholic diocese says the United States is prosperous because of people who came from developing countries and that he is bothered by Trump's "circle the wagons" approach to immigration and diplomacy.

Last week, Trump was meeting with lawmakers about a potential deal on immigration when he questioned why the U.S. should admit more people from Africa or Haiti. Several people who attended the meeting said Trump disparaged those countries in vulgar, racially tinged terms.

Judges, Employees File Suit To Reclaim Courthouse RecordingsFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Judges and employees of a court in northwest New Mexico have filed a lawsuit against the state in an effort to reclaim secret audio recordings made in the courthouse by a former judge.

The Daily Times reports the four Aztec Magistrate Court judges and employees are asking the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission to return the hundreds of hours of recordings that were made by former Judge Connie Johnston.

The suit claims the recordings contain information that includes intimate personal details and protected medical information.

Commission executive director and general counsel Randall Roybal declined to comment on the case.

The New Mexico Supreme Court removed Johnston from office in October for misconduct that included the surreptitious recordings and abuse of her judicial power of contempt.

FAA Says Helicopter With 6 Aboard Crashes In Northern New MexicoAssociated Press

Authorities say a helicopter has crashed in rural northern New Mexico near the state line with Colorado.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the helicopter was carrying six people when it crashed Wednesday evening in mountains about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of the small city of Raton, but there's no immediate word of any injuries.

The New Mexico State Police said several hours after the crash that "response and rescue attempts" were ongoing but slow, and the agency did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for updated information.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the agency did not have information about the ownership of the helicopter or its departure point or destination.

Raton is 175 miles northeast of Albuquerque.

 

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