Insurance Regulator Opposes Health Overhaul, Bear Prompts Lockdown At Los Alamos High School

Sep 22, 2017

New Mexico Insurance Regulator Opposes GOP Health OverhaulAssociated Press

New Mexico's top insurance regulator says a Republican drive to erase the Affordable Care Act would cripple the state's efforts to provide health coverage to the poor.

Insurance Superintendent John Franchini says the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill would greatly hinder New Mexico's efforts to provide health care to individuals and families living just above the federal poverty level. He hopes the initiative fails.

Senate Republicans continued a final push Thursday to repeal much of President Barack Obama's health care law. Their bill would end the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for people buying private insurance and combine the money into new block grants for states.

Meanwhile, New Mexico Medicaid officials have proposed adding monthly premiums and expanding co-payments to more patients to limit state expenses. Currently only isolated copayments are collected.

Albuquerque Set To Unveil Statue Of Late Boxer Johnny TapiaAssociated Press

The hometown of the late boxer Johnny Tapia is set to honor the former champion with a statue at a community center that will also bear his name.

The city of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department are scheduled Saturday to unveil the statue at the Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park. The area is where Tapia was raised by his grandparents.

His turbulent boxing career was marked by cocaine addiction, alcohol, depression and run-ins with the law.

Tapia died at his Albuquerque home in 2012. Investigators said there were no indications of a drug overdose or alcohol use but that the 45-year-old former fighter likely developed medical complications from past illegal drug use.

Tapia was orphaned at 8 when his mother was stabbed 26 times.

New Mexico State University To Open New Innovation LabAssociated Press

New Mexico State University has teamed with White Sands Missile Range to create a new lab aimed at sparking interest among students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The Test and Evaluation Collaboration Hub — or TECH for short — will open its doors next week following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Officials describe it as an immersive learning experience.

The university and the missile range recently received a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Defense Department to build and maintain the lab.

New Mexico State University is one of only five schools in the nation to call itself home to a Defense Department educational lab.

One side of the lab simulates a training camp in Afghanistan and the other features a New Mexico backdrop. The lab also has computers and flight simulators so students can learn math concepts.

New Mexico Panel Seeks Solutions For Curbing Crime WaveAssociated Press

A group of New Mexico lawmakers is scheduled to hold another meeting as they search for legislative solutions to reforming the state's beleaguered criminal justice system and curbing crime in one of its most populated areas.

The bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform subcommittee will be meeting next week in Albuquerque.

Co-chair Sen. Sander Rue says the crime wave has turned into an ocean of crime for Bernalillo County. The Albuquerque Republican says problems are escalating on a daily basis and public safety needs to be the priority as the panel considers changes.

A recent poll by the Albuquerque Journal shows voters believe crime is a problem.

Law enforcement officials also have been raising concerns about the state's bail reform efforts, pointing to cases in which repeat offenders are released and end up committing new crimes.

Albuquerque Man Indicted In Rape, Kidnapping Of Teen In 2013Associated Press

An Albuquerque man has been indicted in the alleged sexual assault and kidnapping of a Rio Rancho teenager in 2013.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Thursday that a Bernalillo County grand jury indicted Eli Kronenanker on four counts of criminal sexual penetration plus single counts of kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, intimidation of a witness and sexual exploitation of children.

The AG's Office had filed more charges earlier this month against Kronenanker in a case that had been dropped by local prosecutors after it was discovered evidence had been destroyed.

He also faces charges in a separate rape case being prosecuted by the Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office.

Kronenanker's attorney says she needs to see what evidence prosecutors plan to present before commenting on the cases.

Families Of Murder Victims Help Design Memorial ParkAssociated Press

Officials in Albuquerque have unveiled plans for a memorial park that will honor the 11 women whose bodies were found in a mass grave and are believed to be victims of a serial killer.

The Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department and City Councilor Klarissa Peña on Thursday released the final design after years of work to secure land and funding.

Officials say the design was approved by family members of the victims. The families helped select trees, shrubbery, benches and other design features.

In 2009, the discovery of a human bone by a woman walking her dog led police to the mass grave on Albuquerque's west side.

Authorities say many of the victims worked as prostitutes or were involved in drugs before they disappeared between 2003 and early 2005.

The case has never been solved.

New Mexico Library Shooting Teen Suspect Pleads Not GuiltyEastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

The teen accused of killing two people and seriously injuring four at a New Mexico library has waived a scheduled arraignment and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Eastern New Mexico News reported Thursday that 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett could potentially face two life sentences and 117 years in prison if convicted.

He has been charged with two counts of murder and numerous other crimes stemming from the Aug. 28 shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. He remains in custody at the Curry County jail.

Assistant Public Defender Stephen Taylor did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment on Jouett's plea.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes. It is identifying Jouett because of the seriousness of the crime and because authorities are seeking adult sanctions.

New Mexico Lawmaker Calls For Inquiry Into Investment Deals – Associated Press

A Democratic state lawmaker is calling for an investigation after questions were raised about political donations made by financial firms that were awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in investments by the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee Chairman Bill McCamley said Thursday he has written to Attorney General Hector Balderas, asking him to investigate any possible violations of state law.

A report by the International Business Times and the nonprofit MapLight says people at firms that handled state investments contributed to Republican political groups and GOP Gov. Susana Martinez.

The governor's office says the political contributions were properly disclosed.

In the past, New Mexico was shaken by an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving state investments during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.

New Mexico Investment Council Defends ProcessAssociated Press

Officials with New Mexico's State Investment Council say there have been no violations of financial disclosure laws.

Council spokesman Charles Wollmann said Thursday the council is likely to discuss whether additional disclosure is appropriate for outside financial managers about contributions to national political action committees.

The comments follow an online report that raised questions about political donations made by financial firms that were awarded millions in investment work by the state of New Mexico.

Wollmann said the current structure of the 11-member investment council doesn't allow for any individual, including the governor, to manipulate investment decisions.

He said the commission has been shifting funds into alternative investments, sometimes with significant management compensation, to limit risks associated with stock market losses that cost the state dearly after the 2007 financial crisis.

Jet Aborts Santa Fe Landing After Airport Wind Gauge ProblemSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

An American Eagle jet flying from Dallas-Fort Worth aborted its Santa Fe landing and returned to Texas.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Tuesday night landing was canceled because of a nonworking wind-speed sensor at the municipal airport. The 38 passengers reached their New Mexico destination on Wednesday morning.

Airport Manager Cameron Humphres says that it's "against the regulatory requirements for pilots to land without current wind data," and that the faulty gauge is maintained by the National Weather Service.

National Weather Service officials say technicians were able to fix the sensor early Wednesday morning although what caused it to fail is not clear.

A similar weather information failure caused a flight to be diverted from Santa Fe back to Dallas-Fort Worth in August 2016.

Los Alamos High School Locks Down After Bear SightingLos Alamos Monitor, Associated Press

Los Alamos High School officials say the school went under lockdown after reports of a bear sighted nearby.

Assistant Principal Renee Dunwoody tells the Los Alamos Monitor someone from a nearby Catholic church called the school to inform officials of a bear sighting on Monday in a canyon near the high school. The bear was later seen close to a school fence.

Dunwoody says it's the first time this year that a bear sighting caused a local school to lock down.

According to an incident report, a Los Alamos Police Department helicopter monitored the bear from above. The bear eventually returned to the canyon.

Officials say no one was harmed during the incident.