Regional

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 Las Cruces School Board met for the first time after receiving a letter from the Secretary of Education scolding them for alleged open meetings act violations and overstepping the board’s authority.

In New Mexico’s Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera’s strongly worded letter to the Las Cruces School Board, she alleges 9 infractions and threatens to suspend the school board if they don’t undergo training within 60 days.

The Latest: New Mexico Senate Panel OKs REAL ID 'Compromise'

Feb 2, 2016

A key New Mexico Senate committee has passed a bill lawmakers called a "compromise" aimed at making New Mexico compliant under the federal REAL ID Act.

Senators voted 8-1 to combine a bipartisan bill with a recently passed version out of the Republican-controlled House as pressure mounted to pass a REAL ID fix.

The compromise would allow all New Mexico residents to apply for REAL ID compliant licenses or obtain a "driver's permit card."

  The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the New Mexico Environment Department, the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, and other state health departments as part of an ongoing investigation of Salmonella virchow. To date, there are 11 confirmed cases across nine states. New Mexico currently has one confirmed case in a 75-year-old man from Otero County.

Former Los Alamos Laboratory Workers Ask For Fraud Probe

Feb 2, 2016

Three former employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory are asking federal prosecutors to reopen a fraud case at the lab and investigate the death of a former lab deputy director.

The whistleblowers sent a letter Tuesday to New Mexico U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez. They say the probe is needed to ensure the lab runs smoothly as the Department of Energy looks for a new contractor to manage operations.

Bail Bond Reform Amendment Clears New Mexico Senate

Feb 2, 2016

A constitutional amendment aimed at reforming New Mexico's bail bond system has cleared the state Senate.

The chamber voted 29-9 in favor of the proposal, sending it to the House for consideration.

If approved, the question of whether to give judges the authority to deny bail to dangerous defendants would be put before the voters during the next general election in November.

The proposal would also allow judges to grant pretrial release to low-risk defendants who are being held because they are too poor to make bond.

State Police: 26 Las Cruces Residents Charged In Drug Probe

Feb 2, 2016

Authorities say 26 Las Cruces residents face drug and other charges as a result of a multi-agency investigation into narcotics trafficking in Dona Ana County.

New Mexico State Police said Tuesday that the three-month operation called "Southern Sweep" targeted several trafficking organizations.

State police said other agencies participating in the investigation included the FBI, the Las Cruces Police Department and the 3rd Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Gov. Martinez: New REAL ID Bill Lacks Security

Feb 2, 2016

The latest on New Mexico lawmakers' REAL ID debate (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says a new compromise bill aimed at making New Mexico compliant under the federal REAL ID Act lacks needed security safeguards.

Martinez spokesman Chris Sanchez said Tuesday the bipartisan proposal doesn't require fingerprints for immigrants in the country illegally who could obtain a driver's permit card.

Sanchez said such security safeguards needs to be in any REAL ID fix to prevent fraud.

Woman Faces Abuse Charges After Trash, Feces Found In Home

Feb 2, 2016
las-cruces.org

Police say a Las Cruces woman faces child abuse charges after they found her home littered with trash, dirty diapers and animal feces.

Police also say three children at the home of 29-year-old Stacy Adams had not bathed in weeks and appeared to have lice in their hair when officers were called to the house Monday. She is being held on three counts of negligent child abuse.

fws.gov

Two Mexican wolves (F1295 and F1340) died during the annual population count and capture operation this year.  Both will undergo necropsies at the Fish and Wildlife Service's Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, to determine causes of death for each wolf. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) temporarily suspended capture operations to conduct a review of events leading to the captures and deaths.

New Mexico House Committee Approves Anti-DWI Bills

Feb 2, 2016

A House panel has given the nod to a pair of measures aimed at cracking down on New Mexico's drunken drivers.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 9-1 Monday in favor of legislation that would allow judges to impose stricter penalties for repeat offenders.

A DWI offense can be deemed a felony after the fourth conviction. The legislation would make individuals convicted of a DWI felony eligible for sentencing under the state's habitual offender law.

The past two years saw the largest number of unaccompanied minors crossing the United States border, 58,000 in 2014 and 34,000 in 2015. Because of these large numbers of children, the Office of Refugee Resettlement is opening temporary shelters for unaccompanied minors in New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

Up to 250 children are currently housed at Holloman Air Force Base. The Office of Refugee Resettlement says the facility has the capacity to house up to 700 children. The children are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and range from 13-17 years of age.

New Mexico Residents Embrace Online Voter Registration

Feb 2, 2016

New Mexico's online voter registration system has caught on quickly since its introduction a month ago, and especially with Democrats.

The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office says 2,867 registrations were completed through the new web portal in January.

Of those voter applications, about 56 percent registered as Democrats and 29 percent signed up as Republicans. Thirteen declined to name a party, and a small remainder selected the state's Independent, Libertarian, Green and Constitutional parties.

New Mexico House Clears Local Curfew Legislation

Feb 2, 2016
nmlegis.gov

A measure that would give local governments the authority to impose curfews for children under the age of 16 has cleared the New Mexico House.

The House voted 44-21 late Monday. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.

House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, one of the bill's sponsors, says nothing good happens to children who are out unsupervised late at night.

The legislation was spurred by a rash of crime in Albuquerque last summer that involved teenagers.

New Mexico Democrats Face Pressure Over REAL ID Fix

Feb 2, 2016

The fate of a REAL ID fix in New Mexico is now in the hands of Senate Democrats.

A key Senate committee is scheduled Tuesday to hear proposals that would bring New Mexico into compliance with tougher identification requirements under the federal REAL ID Act.

But how Senate Democrats respond to the proposals will determine if they face a backlash if the driver's license problem isn't fixed.

The Guardian newspaper reports that Google is testing new technology to deliver wireless internet at New Mexico's Spaceport America.

Bail Bond Amendment Passes Senate Judiciary Committee

Feb 1, 2016
Senator Peter Wirth

   A proposed constitutional amendment to reform the state's bail bond system has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The amendment, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Peter Wirth, of Santa Fe, proposes allowing judges to deny bail to dangerous defendants and granting pretrial release to low-risk defendants who are being held because they are too poor to make bond.

The New Mexico Association of Counties says an assessment of jails shows 39 percent of inmates on averaage are eligible for bail but haven't posted bond.

Representative Nora Espinoza - (R)

The Democratic Party of New Mexico is taking aim at Rep. Nora Espinoza, accusing her of violating the governmental conduct code as she considers running for the secretary of state's office.

The party contends in a complaint filed Monday that the Roswell Republican should not have directed those interested in her campaign to her official legislative webpage.

Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland asked that the secretary of state's office investigate.

Haaland pinned her complaint on comments Espinoza made during a recent radio interview.

  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced significant enforcement activity including arrests targeting Lebanese Hizballah’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component (BAC), which is involved in international criminal activities such as drug trafficking and drug proceed money laundering. These proceeds are used to purchase weapons for Hizballah for its activities in Syria.

"The Night Shift" to Film its Third Season in New Mexico

Feb 1, 2016

  New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis announced today that the television series "The Night Shift," produced by Sony Pictures Television and airing on NBC, will begin principal photography in February and film through June in Albuquerque. "Albuquerque welcomes 'The Night Shift' back to our city for its third season.  We support the movie industry, and the movie industry supports our economy; it's a great thing for everyone," said Mayor Richard J.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

A state ethics board has declined to support Texas' attorney general using political donors to pay his mounting legal bills on criminal charges of defrauding investors.

Monday's decision means Republican Ken Paxton could still use supporters' money to cover his criminal defense, but he would do so without the board's key seal of approval.

The state's top prosecutor was indicted on two felony counts of securities fraud, which carry a potentially lengthy prison sentence. He has pleaded not guilty.

  Republican lawmakers are spurning a proposal to tap New Mexico's largest permanent reserve fund to boost spending on early childhood education programs.

The proposed constitutional amendment to divert funds from the New Mexico Land Grant Permanent Fund was voted down Monday by the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee in a 6-5 party-line vote with Republican in opposition.

The latest version of the amendment from Democratic Reps. Javier Martinez and Antonio Maestas would set aside a 0.7 percent annual distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund.

Udall Introduces Amendment To Give All Americans An Opportunity To Invest In Our Clean Energy Future

Feb 1, 2016
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced an amendment that he has filed to energy legislation that would ultimately enable all Americans to buy Clean Energy Victory Bonds, allowing regular people across the country to do their part to invest in our nation's clean energy future.

Police: Robbery Suspect Shot By Officers Was Santa Fe Man

Feb 1, 2016

Authorities say an armed robbery suspect fatally shot by Santa Fe police at a motel last week was a Santa Fe man who had a gun in his possession and several thousand dollars of cash in his belongings.

New Mexico State Police on Monday identified the man shot by officers Wednesday night as 31-year-old Herman Flores.

State police said several thousand dollars of cash was stolen during a holdup of a Wal-Mart store near the motel and that video confirmed the robber carried a handgun.

Significant Snow Accumulations Expected From Winter Storm

Feb 1, 2016

New Mexico is getting a strong dose of winter weather with significant snow accumulations expected in northern, central and southeastern parts of the state.

Forecasters say strong and gusty winds could reduce visibility amid blowing snow. Snow-packed, icy and slushy roads were reported in potions of western and northern New Mexico.

Medicaid Edges Out Political Agendas In New Mexico

Feb 1, 2016
Office of the Governor

Rising costs for health care linked to the expansion of Medicaid in New Mexico are crowding out initiatives sought by Gov. Susana Martinez.

She was only the second Republican governor to break ranks with GOP allies and expand Medicaid. Now Medicaid looms over nearly every state spending decision as lawmakers meet in Santa Fe to craft a budget.

State Suspends Audit Into MLK Commission Amid Investigation

Feb 1, 2016

The state auditor is suspending an audit into the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission and calling for the Department of Finance Administration to take over the panel's day-to-day financial operations as its executive director faces accusations of possible fraud and embezzlement.

New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller sent a letter Monday to commission chairwoman Karen Montoya, saying the move to involve DFA is necessary for the commission's small remaining staff.

The commission promotes diversity and organizes events around Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

SunZia Fights Green Energy Requirement For Transmission Line

Feb 1, 2016

The group in charge of a proposed $2 billion transmission line that would carry electricity generated by wind and solar in New Mexico the Arizona and beyond is fighting against a requirement to guarantee it will put renewables on the line.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that opponents of the 515-mile-long SunZia Southwest Transmission Project want 50 percent of one of two lines to be set aside for only renewable energy.

SunZia officials say such an order would violate federal law forbidding power lines from discriminating against energy suppliers.

Shootout Claims 8 Lives In Mexican City Across From Texas

Feb 1, 2016

Mexican authorities say eight people including a 13-year-old girl were killed in a string of shootouts between gunmen and security forces that caused panic in the border city of Matamoros.

A Tamaulipas state government statement says seven of those killed Sunday in the city across from Brownsville, Texas, were presumed criminals.

The girl was a bystander at a shopping mall with her family during one of the shootings. The statement said she was struck by a bullet fired by one of the suspects.

Significant Snow Accumulations Expected From Winter Storm

Feb 1, 2016

New Mexico is geting a strong dose of winter weather with significant snow accumulations expected in northern, central and southeastern parts of the state

Forecasters say strong and gusty winds will reduce visibility amid blowing snow in some areas Monday. Roads are expected to become snow-packed and icy.

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