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Local news and weather for Las Cruces, El Paso, Alamogordo, Silver City, Ruidoso, Anthony, Cloudcroft, Deming, Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte, and all of Southern New Mexico and Far West Texas.

The Latest: House Panel Votes To Reinstate Education Funds

May 24, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on efforts by New Mexico lawmakers to resolve a state budget crisis (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Legislation that reinstates funding for New Mexico's universities and colleges as well as the Legislature itself has cleared its first hurdle.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee voted mostly along party lines in favor of restoring some $765 million in funding that was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez as part of a budget dispute following the regular legislative session earlier this year.

New Mexico SOS holds out hope for campaign finance funding

May 24, 2017

  While New Mexico’s colleges and universities are hoping today’s special legislative session restores hundreds of million worth of funding, the Secretary of State’s office is yearning for something more modest.

That’s $950,000 for a new online reporting system.

Settlement with Johnson & Johnson Concerning the Quality of Over-The-Counter Drugs

May 24, 2017
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas

Santa Fe, NM- This morning, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that New Mexico will receive $453,474.16 from a settlement with Johnson & Johnson concerning their representations regarding the quality of over-the-counter drugs. Attorney General Balderas and 42 other attorneys general reached a $33 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson (“Defendants”).  McNeil-PPC, Inc. was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that manufactured and distributed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.  

NMSU summer computer camps filling up, space still available

May 24, 2017

New Mexico State University’s summer computer camps are in high demand but there is still time to sign up. The Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences is hosting the free summer programs in June and July. 

The Young Women in Computing (YWiC) program for young women in high school runs from 12:30-4 p.m. Monday through Friday from June 5 through June 16. Students will learn to explore computing skills and discover talents through an introduction to programming, computational thinking and new technologies. 

Gabe Vasquez

LAS CRUCES -- Longtime Las Cruces resident and New Mexico State University graduate Gabe Vasquez has announced his candidacy for Las Cruces City Council District 3.  Vasquez issued this statement:

USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Eric Vigil announced today the selection of the Mid Central Rural Corridor and South Eastern New Mexico regions to participate in the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program.

The SET program is a joint initiative between the Western Regional Rural Development Center at Utah State University, New Mexico State University (NMSU) Cooperative Extension and USDA Rural Development to provide assistance in community and economic development planning. 

University Of New Mexico Spending Under Review

May 24, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state Auditor's Office is reviewing the spending of public money by the University of New Mexico's athletic department on a 2015 golf trip to Scotland that included the athletic director, other employees and boosters, the agency confirmed Wednesday.

The review comes as the state's universities and colleges are being forced to consider tuition increases and other cuts as New Mexico grapples with a budget crisis.

Udall, Heinrich Cosponsor Legislation To Reduce Skyrocketing Student Loan Debt

May 24, 2017
Senator Martin Heinrich (D) and Senator Tom Udall (D)

Commentary: U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined Senator Elizabeth Warren in introducing the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act that would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers. Outstanding student loan debt in America totals more than $1.4 trillion. In New Mexico, students are graduating with an average of nearly $20,000 in debt and 134,000 federal student loan borrowers would benefit from loan refinancing. 

Longest Serving Member Of UNM Regents Resigns After 18 Years

May 24, 2017
unm.edu

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The longest serving member of the University of New Mexico regents has resigned from the school's governing board after 18 years.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Regent Jack Fortner submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday.

Fortner's most recent six-year term expired last December, but regents can continue serving until their replacement is confirmed by the New Mexico Senate.

Fortner told the Journal that he didn't want to be a distraction to the university.

Xcel Completes $5.6 Million Project To Boost Capacity

May 24, 2017

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Xcel Energy says it has completed a $5.6 million project to boost electric capacity in one stretch of southeastern New Mexico. 

The utility says the infrastructure improvements will help the agricultural areas north of Hobbs, where irrigation and dairy customers were experiencing voltage fluctuations due to their distance from the power source and the strain on existing substations in the area.

blm

This past weekend marked the third anniversary of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. It comes after President Donald Trump issued an executive order reviewing national monuments of 100,000 acres or more that were designated as far back as 1996.

Since the designation of the monument, some Las Cruces-area businesses say they have found opportunities to get creative with new brands and expand.

Texas Senate revives full bathroom bill with late-night move

May 24, 2017

  AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas' Republican-controlled Legislature is tying itself in knots over a transgender "bathroom bill."

The state Senate voted 21-10 vote after 1 a.m. Wednesday to attach rules requiring transgender Texans to use public restrooms corresponding to their birth-certificate gender onto an otherwise unrelated proposal on county governments.

A full bill doing the same thing cleared the Senate in March but stalled in the House, which instead passed a scaled-back version applying only to schools on Sunday.

nmpolitics.net

A bill aimed at increasing New Mexico state tax income from online sales and nonprofit hospitals has been approved by the House of Representatives.

The House voted 37-29 Wednesday on the budget-balancing measures. The bill also would create a new state rainy day fund from future oil and natural gas proceeds for use during future fiscal emergencies.

Silver City Report

May 24, 2017

Time now for the Silver City Report with Edmundo Resendez and Silver City Press and Independent reporters Christine Steele and Ben Fischer. This week, the Silver City School Board is cited for an open meetings violation, a teacher is charged with a sex crime with a student, and the Silver City Blues Festival.

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Las Cruces City Councilor Olga Pedroza Not Seeking Re-Election

May 23, 2017

Commentary: This is to inform you that as City Councilor for Las Cruces’ District 3, I, Olga Pedroza, have decided to not seek re-election in November. This was a difficult decision, but was made much easier by knowing the person who will run for the position, Gabe Vasquez.
 

Join Las Cruces Utilities’ 2017 Spring Stroll

May 23, 2017

“Come out to the garden, enjoy coffee and pastries while you learn how to plant and irrigate a garden in the desert - surrounded by beautiful blooming healthy plants that are grown in our area with the use of efficient irrigation and local free compost,” invites Rhonda Diaz, water conservation program coordinator.

This Wednesday, May 24th, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. come stroll the Demonstration Garden at Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) Administration offices, 680 N. Motel Blvd.

Heinrich Statement On President Trump’s Budget

May 23, 2017
US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Commentary: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, released the following statement on President Trump’s FY2018 budget:

“President Trump’s budget does nothing but abandon the hard-working Americans and rural communities he promised to fight for, while providing tax breaks to the wealthy. This proposal stacks the deck against the most vulnerable Americans and cuts $3.6 trillion from critical investments in families, communities, and industries that will create the jobs of the future.

The Latest: Judge Declares Mistrial In Ex-Deputy's Case

May 23, 2017

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the retrial of a former Santa Fe County deputy charged in the death of a fellow deputy (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a former New Mexico sheriff's deputy who was charged in the shooting death of a fellow deputy during what authorities described as an alcohol-fueled dispute.

The ruling came Tuesday after jurors informed the judge they would not be able to reach a unanimous decision in the case of Tai Chan. They deliberated for less than four hours.

AG Balderas Announces $205,000 Settlement with Target over Data Breach

May 23, 2017
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas

Española, NM- Attorney General Hector Balderas announced today that New Mexico reached a $205,163.99 settlement with Target. The settlement addresses the company’s 2013 data breach that affected more than 41 million payment card accounts and contact information for over 60 million customers. New Mexico joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia in an investigation that resulted in a total settlement of $18.5 million.

Two seventh grade White Sands Middle School students were recognized for their historical documentary in the National History Day New Mexico State Competition, April 28. Jacob Paschal and Alexander Lyons finished third in
the junior division of the state competition after finishing second in the regional division held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, March 24.

Paschal and Lyons are the first students from White Sands School to place in the competition and the only students from Las Cruces to compete.

Heinrich, Udall Say TrumpCare Will Hurt Rural America

May 23, 2017
Senator Martin Heinrich (D) and Senator Tom Udall (D)

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall outlined the harmful impact TrumpCare will have in rural America where communities have long faced challenges with access to affordable health care insurance and services. The senators were joined by New Mexico Radiologist Dr. Robert Rosenberg and National Association of Rural Health Clinics President John Gill, along with U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

Expiring Law Could Leave Route 66 Towns Without Key Funding

May 23, 2017
ncptt.nps.gov

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Route 66, the historic American roadway that linked Chicago to the West Coast, soon may be dropped from a National Park Service preservation program, which would end years of efforts aimed at reviving old tourist spots in struggling towns.

New Federal Report Addresses Road Conditions On Tribal Lands

May 23, 2017

The Government Accountability Office has released a report that casts a critical light on the maintenance and condition of roads on Arizona's tribal lands

By CLARICE SILBER

Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — The federal government released a report Monday that casts a critical light on the poor conditions of roads on tribal lands nationwide, highlighting the widespread challenge of getting Native American children to school during bad weather.

Office of US Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, released the following statement on President Trump’s FY 2018 budget:

Alamogordo NOW

May 23, 2017

Time now for Alamogordo NOW with Edmundo Resendez and Jacquie Devine, editor for the Hollogram. This week, it’s graduation and racing season. 

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  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A lawsuit alleging that New Mexico's education system failed to meet its constitutional responsibilities is headed to trial after a state district judge on Monday denied requests for an early decision.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said its main requests for summary judgment were denied so the court can consider the state's response in greater depth.

Papen Says Governor's Appointments Can Wait

May 22, 2017
Senator Mary Kay Papen (D)

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The president of the New Mexico Senate said Monday there will be no confirmation hearings for appointments by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez during a special legislative session.

Senate President Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces said the Democratic-led Legislature will be focused on restoring vetoed funding for state colleges and universities and will not vet executive appointments when lawmakers convene on Wednesday.

NMSU Extension Agents earn national, regional, state awards

May 22, 2017

New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service agents are racking up the awards.

NMSU Sierra County CES Agriculture/4-H Agent Joshua Boyd earned national finalist honors from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents for his 4-H Horse Judging Manual. The NACAA’s communications competition recognizes agricultural agents on the state, regional and national levels. Boyd’s manual earned the second-highest award level possible.

El Paso's Neon Desert Music Festival Announces Full Schedule

May 22, 2017

  Neon Desert Music Festival is excited to announce the set times and full performance schedule for the seventh annual event, which will return to downtown El Paso this Memorial Day weekend, May 27 and 28.

  SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with BNSF Railway Company to begin clean up at the Haystack Mines Site, a group of three abandoned uranium mines near Prewitt, New Mexico and the Baca/Prewitt chapter, on Navajo Nation. 

The mines site operated from 1952 to 1981 and produced 400,000 tons of uranium ore.  Today, the 174-acre area is being used for livestock grazing and includes one residence with some additional homes nearby. The work is expected to begin in July and last for four months.

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