KUNM

NM Off List Of Top States For Overdose Deaths, Court Sides With NM Officer In Shooting

Dec 27, 2017

New Mexico Off List Of Top 10 States For Overdose DeathsThe Associated Press

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that New Mexico has fallen off of the list of top 10 states for fatal overdoses.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state was among the top 10 for two consecutive years, but fell to 12th for 2016 with 497 deaths, according to CDC data posted last week.

In 2014, the CDC said New Mexico had the second-highest drug overdose death rate in the country with 547 deaths reported.

In 2015, the state fell to eighth with 501 deaths.

In 2016, the rate decreased by four, putting New Mexico's rate for drug overdose deaths at 25.2 per 100,000 population.

The CDC says the East Coast is seeing a surge in overdose deaths. The national average is 19.8 deaths per 100,000 in population.

Correction: This story corrects a story from December 27 when the Associated Press reported, and KUNM broadcast, inaccurate information about the number of overdose deaths in 2014 as 497. The correct number was 547. We regret the error.

Court Sides With New Mexico Officer In Minivan ShootingThe Associated Press

A federal appeals court has sided with a former New Mexico police officer, denying claims that he violated the rights of a woman and her children when he shot at their minivan as they fled.

The ruling came Wednesday in the case of Oriana Farrell, who was pulled over for speeding and leading officers on a high-speed pursuit through Taos in 2013.

Farrell was originally charged with aggravated fleeing, child abuse and drug paraphernalia possession but ended up reaching a plea agreement. She was sentenced to probation and community service.

The appeals court found that Elias Montoya, the officer who fired at the van, should have been granted summary judgment by a lower court.

Montoya argued he had qualified immunity, which shields public officials from legal actions unless their conduct was unreasonable in light of clearly established law.

New Mexico Considers New Nominating System For RegentsThe Associated Press

New Mexico would change the selection process for regents who oversee the state's public universities and flagship medical center under a newly proposed constitutional amendment.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Republican Sen. Mark Moores said Tuesday that they hope to ensure a broader initial search for qualified candidates to oversee the state's major public universities by creating a bipartisan nomination committee. The committee would provide a list of candidates for the governor to choose from when nominating university regents.

The senators say the new system would diffuse frequent stalemates as the Legislature considers political appointments by the governor to regent boards.

New Mexico's public university system is wrestling with declining enrollment and steep cuts in state funding.

If approved by lawmakers, voters would decide on the amendment in November 2018.

New Mexico Woman Accused Of Stealing Patients' MoneyThe Associated Press

State prosecutors say a former business office manager at an Albuquerque rehabilitation center is accused of using her position to steal thousands of dollars from three elderly patients at the facility.

Court records show Leanne Bennett was indicted by a grand jury this week on three counts of exploiting a resident's property and numerous charges related to the unauthorized use of debit cards.

Investigators say Bennett is accused of gaining access to one resident's checking account and the debit cards of two other residents. She allegedly wrote several checks to herself and made multiple withdrawals.

Defense attorney John Samore described Bennett as a good woman and said he had not yet seen any of the evidence against his client.

According to the indictment, the charges stem from 2012 and 2013.

NM Missile Range Records Nearly 5,500 Missions In 2017Associated Press

A southern New Mexico missile testing range has logged nearly 5,500 missions this year.

Those missions include firing missiles and rockets, laser tests and training in F-16 fighter jets on 3,200 square miles of the White Sands Missile Range.

Test center commander Col. Eric Rannow says the missions allow the U.S. military to be prepared at all times with cutting-edge technology.

The U.S. Air Force sponsored almost 1,615 training missions this year, with 458 of those involving the fighter jets.

One of the biggest jobs at the missile range is ensuring that weapons work in the conditions where the military needs them. That means testing in nuclear environments and in varying temperatures.

The test center also has taken missions on the road, doing tests in Europe and the Pacific Ocean.

New Mexico Still Missing Out On Winter Precipitation Associated Press

There has been no measureable rain or snow in New Mexico's most populous city in over 80 straight days, and the National Weather Service says the forecast is calling for another week of dry weather.

If the trend holds, forecasters say Albuquerque could finish in the top five longest periods without precipitation since record-keeping started more than a century ago.

The city's record of 109 days was set back in 1902.

Eastern New Mexico is also dry, as Roswell is not far behind with nearly 70 consecutive days without precipitation.

Forecasters say that by Thursday and Friday, most areas of the state will see temperatures 5 to 15 degrees above seasonal averages.

New Mexico Considers New Nominating System For Regents Associated Press

New Mexico would change the selection process for regents who oversee the state's public universities and flagship medical center under a newly proposed constitutional amendment.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Republican Sen. Mark Moores said Tuesday that they hope to ensure a broader initial search for qualified candidates to oversee the state's major public universities by creating a bipartisan nomination committee. The committee would provide a list of candidates for the governor to choose from when nominating university regents.

The senators say the new system would diffuse frequent stalemates as the Legislature considers political appointments by the governor to regent boards.

New Mexico's public university system is wrestling with declining enrollment and steep cuts in state funding.

If approved by lawmakers, voters would decide on the amendment in November 2018.

New Mexico Sign-Ups For 'Obamacare' Dip Associated Press

Enrollment in "Obamacare" for 2018 among New Mexico residents fell by nearly 8 percent compared with last year.

The New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance on Tuesday confirmed that 50,539 people signed up for health insurance through the state's subsidized marketplace. Last year the tally was 54,653.

Agency spokeswoman Heather Widler said New Mexico still has a stable marketplace with four health insurance companies offering statewide coverage, including subsidized plans for low-income residents.

She said likely reasons for declining enrollment include this year's shorter enrollment period and federal decisions to repeal subsidies to insurers, eliminate IRS fines for being uninsured and reduce marketing for enrollment.

Across the country, nearly 9 million people signed up for "Obamacare" in 39 qualified states — or 96 percent of the previous total.

Suspect Killed During Standoff With Roswell Police Associated Press

Roswell police say they fatally shot a man who opened fire on officers after barricading himself inside a building.

Authorities say the standoff began after the police department's SWAT team tried to serve arrest and search warrants Tuesday morning at a location just outside city limits.

Police spokesman Todd Wildermuth said the warrants stemmed from another incident that happened the night before but he did not provide any details. He also did not immediately identify the suspect.

As part of standard procedure, the shooting will be investigated by Roswell police, the Chaves County Sheriff's Office and New Mexico State Police.

New Mexico Police Arrest Man With Multiple DWI Convictions Associated Press

Authorities say a New Mexico man who was recently arrested in San Juan County on suspicion of driving drunk has 14 DWI convictions on his record.

New Mexico State Police say 57-year-old Levi Manuelito was spotted along U.S. 64 near Shiprock on Friday after dispatchers had issued a warning for officers to be on the lookout for an erratic driver.

Manuelito refused to take a field sobriety test and was subsequently arrested for driving while under the influence. Officers discovered his previous DWI convictions while applying for a warrant to draw blood.

Manuelito was booked into the San Juan County jail. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Authorities say three of the four passengers in Manuelito's vehicle were also arrested for outstanding warrants.

Report: New Mexico Among Least Prepared For Health Disasters Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

A study places New Mexico among the least prepared states for epidemics or other types of public health emergencies due to low public health funding and gaps in staffing.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the study made public last week by the health policy organization Trust for America's Health shows the state as ranking among the bottom 11.

The study says state's public health funding has dropped for the past two years.

New Mexico did score well in three of the 11 indicators the study examined. The state received high marks for biosafety training at state labs, high vaccinations rates against the flu and passing a national public health accreditation.

State Health Department officials told the newspaper that the agency could not immediately respond to questions on the report.

Lawmakers File Dozens Of Bills; Most Will See No Action Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

Lawmakers have filed more than 100 bills for their session that starts in mid-January.

Most of those will see no action.

That's because the state constitution limits action in monthlong sessions to bills on the budget and taxes. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez also can place items on the agenda, and legislators can revisit bills that she vetoed in the past.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Martinez has indicated public safety will be a priority.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says legislators expect a flat budget, which means extra spending will be limited, and proposals for new programs or initiatives might go nowhere.

Bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and create a $15-an-hour minimum wage are among the items filed.

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