KUNM

Update

Court Asked To Mull NM's Teacher Evaluation Plan - Associated Press

Teachers unions and some state lawmakers who are opposed to the New Mexico Public Education Department's teacher evaluation system are asking the state Court of Appeals to reconsider its contention that the program is invalid because it violates state laws.

The reconsideration request comes after a state District Court judge last month refused to block Gov. Susana Martinez's administration from continuing to implement a new system for evaluating teachers.

NM Governor Proposes High-Tech Initiatives - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has proposed spending $9.5 million on two high-tech research and development initiatives.

The governor says the aim is to attract top faculty members to New Mexico's colleges and universities and to fund innovative projects that have the potential to contribute to the state's economic growth.

Martinez unveiled her proposals during visits Thursday to the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Tech.

Former NM Uranium Mine Listed As Superfund Site - Associated Press

A former uranium mine near Laguna Pueblo has been added to the list of Superfund sites.

The Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine was one of nine hazardous waste sites that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added to the national priorities list last week.

The mine is located in an area of canyons and arroyos. It included more than four square miles of disturbed soil with three open pits, 32 waste dumps and more than 30 stockpiles.

NM Teacher Who Said Santa Is White On Paid Leave- Associated Press

A suburban Albuquerque teacher who told a black student that Santa Claus is white has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Rio Rancho school district spokeswoman Kim Vesely confirmed on Tuesday that the teacher is out of the classroom while the incident is being investigated.

The teacher's comments came after students at Cleveland High School were told they could come to class dressed as Santa, an elf or a reindeer.

Horse Slaughter Plants Preparing To Open- Associated Press

After months of legal wrangling and false starts in a battle to resume domestic horse slaughter, plants in New Mexico and Missouri are working to begin processing equine for human consumption.

The efforts come on the heels of an order late Friday by a federal appeals court that lifted an emergency stay on the companies' plans.

Appeals Court Vacates Ban On US Horse Slaughter - Associated Press 

A federal appeals court has cleared the way for companies in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa to resume domestic horse slaughter.

In an order Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver removed an emergency injunction that had blocked the plants from opening.

Report Critical Of NM Mental Health Audit Response - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

A legislative report is critical of New Mexico's handling of a shakeup of mental health services in which Medicaid to numerous providers were frozen as a result of an audit that reportedly found possible overbillings and fraud.

Hedge Fund Owner Buys Taos Ski Valley-

Associated Press

One of New Mexico's top ski areas has been sold.

Taos Ski Valley officials announced Wednesday that wealthy conservationist and hedge fund owner Louis Bacon has agreed to buy the ski area. The sale price wasn't disclosed.

Taos Ski Valley CEO Mickey Blake says the ski area needs improvement, but the company doesn't have enough money for renovation.

Bacon has enough capital to buy new lifts, rebuild the base area and construct a hotel.

Suspect In Latest Albuquerque Police Shooting ID'd - Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque police have released the name of the suspect shot and killed in the city's latest officer-involved shooting.

Officials say 37-year-old Andy Jack Snider was shot by police Sunday after authorities say he charged officers with a weapon in an alley.

Albuquerque police has seen five office-involved shootings in six weeks as the department faces a federal investigation over allegations of excessive force.

NM 'Right-To-Die' Law Trial Set To Begin - Associated Press

A legal challenge against a decades-old New Mexico law that prohibits physicians from helping terminally ill patients die is scheduled to begin.

The trial is set for Wednesday in the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque and comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed a lawsuit in March.

A Santa Fe woman with advanced uterine cancer later joined two doctors in their legal challenge.

Court Broadens Domestic Violence Arrest Authority - Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court is giving police more leeway to make arrests without a warrant in domestic violence cases.

The state Supreme Court on Monday ruled that police can make a warrantless arrest when it's reasonably close to the scene of the domestic violence.

State law allows a warrantless arrest at the scene of a domestic disturbance, and the justices broadened that to include a location near the place where the incident happened.

State Report: More Tourists Visiting New Mexico - Associated Press

Tourism officials in New Mexico say more people are visiting the state.

A report from the state's Tourism Department found that New Mexico saw 2.6 percent more overnight and day visitors in 2012 than in 2011.

There were 32 million overnight and day visitors in 2012. The previous high was in 2008, with 31.4 million visits.

Tourists spent an estimated $5.9 billion in New Mexico last year. In 2011, tourists spent just over $5.5 billion in the state.

Albuquerque Tech Center Gets Fed Grant - Associated Press

The economic development arm of the University of New Mexico has received a $1.5 million federal grant for creating a new high-tech business district in downtown Albuqueruque.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich Wednesday announced the Commerce Department funding for the Innovate ABQ initiative.

The grant brings funding for the project to $6.5 million, or close to the appraised value for the seven-acre First Baptist Church site that the project hopes to purchase.

NM's Infant Mortality Rate On The Rise - Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are concerned about an increase in the state's infant mortality rate.

The state Department of Health says New Mexico's rate has exceeded the national rate for the first time since 1994. The latest figures show an increase from 5.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 6.9 in 2012.

Health Secretary Retta Ward says the department will monitor the numbers closely to see if the increase signals a trend.

NM Governor To Seek Money For Water Emergencies - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez will ask the Legislature to create an emergency fund to help communities with critical drinking water supply problems.

The governor proposed Monday that lawmakers allocate $200,000 to allow the administration to immediately respond when local governments face emergencies and potentially are running out of water.

Martinez also wants to be able to replenish the fund automatically in $200,000 installments by issuing an executive order.

Judge Says State Can Keep Audit Secret - Associated Press

A state district judge in Las Cruces has ruled the state can keep secret the audit that prompted it to freeze payments to substance abuse and mental health providers.

State District Judge Douglas Driggers rejected a request by the Las Cruces Sun-News and New Mexico In Depth to order the Human Services Department to release the audit under state open records laws.

NM Teachers Object To Evaluation System - Associated Press

Unions representing teachers and other educational employees organized protests Wednesday against a teacher evaluation system by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration that heavily bases ratings on student performance on standardized tests.

National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers encouraged teachers to wear black and participate in rallies across the state.

Albuquerque Votes On Late-Term Abortion Ban - Associated Press

Voters in New Mexico's largest city will decide Tuesday whether to ban late-term abortions.

The municipal referendum is believed to be the first of its kind in the country and is being watched as a possible new front for activism in the abortion wars that have typically been waged at the federal and state levels.

The outcome is anyone's guess following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising.

State: 15 NM Teachers Get Stipends For Transfers - Associated Press and The Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera says the state is "off to a good start" with 15 teachers each approved to receive a $5,000 stipend for transferring from a top-graded school to a low-graded one.

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, the teachers worked for the Las Cruces, Taos, Las Vegas City, Espanola, Estancia and Gallup school districts.

Albuquerque Police Officer Shoots DWI Suspect - Associated Press and KOAT-TV

Albuquerque's police chief says one of his officers has shot a drunken-driving suspect during a traffic stop.

Chief Allen Banks says the shooting happened early Friday after an officer pulled over a car. Banks tells KOAT-TV that after the car stopped the driver inside showed a gun and the officer shot the person.

The unidentified suspect is hospitalized in critical but stable condition. The officer was not hurt.

NM Ed Chief Vows To Push Law On 3rd-Grade Reading - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico's top education official says Gov. Susana Martinez won't stop pushing for legislation to hold back third-graders who can't read at grade level.

Public Education chief Hanna Skandera vowed that she and Martinez will be "back in full force" to push the proposal in 2014. The Legislature has rejected the plan for the past two years.

Tribal Leaders Gather For White House Conference - Associated Press

American Indian leaders are gathered in Washington, D.C., to talk directly with officials in President Barack Obama's administration about their needs.

The White House Tribal Leaders Conference is scheduled for Wednesday. Obama is set to deliver remarks to representatives invited from 566 tribes across the country at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

New Mexico Woman Who Sued To Marry Partner Dies - Associated Press

A New Mexico woman who won an emergency court order allowing her to marry her longtime partner this summer in one of a cascade of same-sex weddings in the state has died.

NM County's Investments Probed By State Officials - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

The State Securities Division has launched an inquiry into Bernalillo County's investment practices.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the agency is trying to determine if a turnover of the county's $300 million investment portfolio was the result of a misguided effort in pursuit of higher interest rates or something more sinister.

Santa Fe Mayor Wants Proper Disposal Of Nuke Waste - Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss is urging the Los Alamos National Laboratory to analyze and properly dispose of its nuclear waste.

He's also calling on the New Mexico Environment Department to disallow the creation of a permanent nuclear waste dump.

Coss is chairman of the regional coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities.

Los Alamos' proposed remedial plan allegedly leaves nuclear waste buried in pits and trenches at the laboratory's Area G.

Martinez Rips School Official For Twitter Comments  - Associated Press and KOAT - TV

Gov. Susana Martinez is calling out Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks over his social media remarks about Martinez's education secretary, and Brooks is apologizing.

Brooks had suggested in Twitter comments to a KOAT-TV reporter Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Moriarty that Skandera "head for the livestock truck."

KOAT  reports that Winston then tweeted "Moo, moo, oink, oink!!"

Wildlife Poaching Appears To Be On The Rise In NM - Associated Press

Wildlife poaching appears to be on the rise in New Mexico.

Game and Fish officials say they're investigating 22 cases across the state involving elk, deer and antelope carcasses found headless and left to rot.

Department officers are running road blocks across the state to check for illegal hunting activity and to gather data about harvest success.

Federal Appeals Court Halts Horse Slaughter - Associated Press

A federal appeals court has temporary halted plans to resume domestic horse slaughter.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday issued a temporary injunction barring the Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants.

Military Wants To Keep Using Forest For Training - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

Kirtland Air Force Base's request to renew a decades-old agreement that allows military training in portions of a national forest in central New Mexico is stirring controversy.

Kirtland has had an agreement since 1977 to use parts of the Cibola National Forest for training. That training includes establishment of helicopter landing zones, high-altitude training for aircraft and remote deployment of ground teams.

NM Pension System Finances Improve Under New Law - Associated Press

A retirement system for New Mexico's state and local government workers reports its long-term financial outlook has improved in large part because of a recently enacted pension overhaul.

The Public Employees Retirement Association said Thursday the projected cost of future pension benefits was $4.6 billion more than the retirement fund's assets in the 2013 fiscal year. That's down from an unfunded liability of $6.2 billion the previous year.

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