NM Lawmakers Stick With Concealed Gun Regulations, Governor Not Criticizing Trump's Border Wall

Jan 28, 2017

New Mexico Lawmakers Stick With Concealed Gun RegulationsAssociated Press

A proposal that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun in New Mexico without a special license has stalled in its first legislative hearing.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted Friday to indefinitely table the bill that would allow anyone 18 and over to carry a concealed, loaded gun if they already meet essential requirements under current regulations.

States including Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi and Idaho enacted similar "constitutional carry" measures last year that allow concealed guns without a permit. The proposal in New Mexico from Republican Sen. Steven Neville also has been filed as a constitutional amendment that would require approval by a majority of all lawmakers and a statewide vote.

New Mexico Lawmakers Approve Emergency Court FundingAssociated Press

The New Mexico Legislature has approved emergency funding to cover the cost of juries, court interpreters and clerk's offices for several months in response to a funding crisis in the Judiciary.

The House or Representatives on Friday approved $1.1 million in emergency funding to stave off staff furloughs at the state Supreme Court, pay for jury trials and restore full-time public access to services provided by court clerks.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has three days to consider the legislation once it reaches her desk.

The bill also provides funding for the current legislative session and committees that draft legislation and track state agency performance throughout the year. House Republicans voted in unison against the legislation, saying it did not sufficiently reduce funding to the Legislature amid a budget crisis.

Nation's Only Latina Gov Not Criticizing Trump's Border WallAssociated Press

The nation's only Latina governor is avoiding criticizing President Donald Trump on his executive action pushing a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Friday the Republican governor "supports strengthening our border and giving the federal government a variety of tools" to protect residents.

Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan says the governor endorses putting more agents along the border as called for by the executive action. But the governor's office refused to comment on Trump's push for the border wall.

Martinez told the Associated Press last year that building fences could impact the U.S. economy and relationship with trading partners in Mexico and farther south.

The Republican governor criticized Trump during the campaign for his comments on Mexican immigrants and women.

Navajo Lawmakers Table Measure To Change Name To Dine NationAssociated Press

Navajo Nation lawmakers have postponed consideration of a proposal that called for changing the name of the tribal government from Navajo to Dine.

Following nearly two hours of discussion on the final day of the tribal council's winter session, sponsor and Council Delegate Jonathan Hale agreed to table the measure to allow more time for the Navajo people to discuss and consider the change.

The measure will likely be brought up again during the spring council session.

Under the legislation, the name of the Navajo Nation would change to Dine Nation and the tribal president and all departments, divisions and agencies would use the phrase "Dine Nation" in describing the lands and people.

Dine is the Navajo word meaning "the people" and is commonly how tribal members refer to themselves.

Las Cruces Getting New Veterans Affairs Health Care ClinicAssociated Press

Work to build a new health care clinic for veterans in southern New Mexico is underway.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that a Feb. 10 groundbreaking is scheduled for the Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Las Cruces.

Director Michael L. Amaral of the El Paso Veterans Affairs Healthcare System says site preparation has begun, setting the stage for start of actual construction of the new facility.

Members of the state's congressional delegation have advocated for a new facility to replace the current facility with a larger one that could provide more services.

Trump Voters Thrilled With Promised Action On Border WallAssociated Press

President Donald Trump's announcement that he is taking steps toward building a U.S.-Mexico border wall was welcome news for voters who say they're glad he is following through on one of his biggest campaign promises.

Trump renewed his vow Wednesday about the wall and increased immigration enforcement.

Peggy Davis, whose cattle ranch near Tombstone, Arizona, is about 25 miles north of the border, was thrilled.

She says stretches of the Arizona border with Mexico desperately need more barriers but a wall alone won't stop illegal crossings.

She believes there must also be more Border Patrol agents closer to Mexico.

Trump said he would start building the wall along the 1,954-mile border and make Mexico pay for it. Mexico says it will not cover the cost.

Health Officials Promote Flu Shot Ahead Of Peak Flu SeasonAssociated Press

Health officials are urging New Mexico residents to get the flu shot as flu cases are on the rise.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that based on the rising number of clinic visits and hospital admissions for flu-like symptoms, health officials believe flu season will peak in New Mexico in the coming weeks.

The state tracks the number of patients hospitalized for the flu in seven New Mexico counties. Between Jan. 8 and Jan. 14, about 40 people were hospitalized for flue, about twice the number reported in the previous week.

University of New Mexico pediatrician Dr. Randall Knott says flu season runs October through May but typically peaks in February, making this year's spike in cases right on schedule.

New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange To Get New CEOAssociated Press

The executive director of Arkansas' health insurance exchange has been tapped to run New Mexico's program.

The board of directors that oversees New Mexico's exchange announced the appointment of Cheryl Smith Gardner as the chief executive officer of BeWellnm on Friday. Officials say she has worked over the last 10 years on health insurance policy and health care reform efforts.

Aside from her work in Arkansas, Smith Gardner was the director of policy and strategy for Utah's insurance exchange during its initial launch in 2009.

Smith Gardner will start her new job March 1. Until then, Linda Wedeen will continue her role as interim CEO of New Mexico's program.

Officials say more than 52,000 people have chosen plans through New Mexico's exchange as of Jan. 22.

Drunken Driver Gets 31-Year Sentence For Deadly CrashAssociated Press

A drunken driver who lost control of his vehicle while fleeing from police and caused a deadly crash has been sentenced to 31 years in prison.

The Bernalillo County district attorney's office says Ofimiano Herrera was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to eight charges stemming from the 2015 crash at an Albuquerque intersection.

State District Judge Alisa Hadfield categorized the charges as serious violent offenses, meaning Herrera will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Prosecutors say Herrera was intoxicated when he led police on a high-speed chase that ended when he lost control of his sedan and slammed into a family's SUV while it was stopped at a traffic light.

Oscar Almeida, Sr. was killed and his wife, son and son's girlfriend were seriously injured.