Judiciary Warns Of Furloughs At Courts, Navajo Lawmakers Propose Amber Alert Funding

Nov 16, 2016

New Mexico Judiciary Grapples With Reduced BudgetAssociated Press

The chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court says furloughs may be in store for employees of the state's highest court and appellate courts because of recent budget cuts to the judiciary.

Justice Charles Daniels told state lawmakers Tuesday that the courts are rationing office supplies and will resort to furloughs if a request for supplemental money is rejected.

New Mexico is reducing judiciary spending by 3 percent this fiscal year to close a major budget deficit. Administrative Office of the Courts Director Artie Pepin says furloughs can be avoided with a $150,000 appropriation by the state Board of Finance or the Legislature.

The judiciary is saving $400,000 this fiscal year by paying a lower mileage reimbursement rate for travel by judges, court staff, jurors, interpreters and court-ordered witnesses.

Navajo Nation Lawmakers Proposes Funding For Amber Alert - Associated Press

Navajo Nation lawmakers are proposing tribal legislation to fund an emergency 911 system and expand efforts for a rural addressing system on the vast reservation.

About $850,000 of the multi-million appropriation in the bill would go toward developing an Amber Alert system — a move that comes in response to a kidnapping this year that raised concerns over the fact that the United States' largest American Indian reservation does not have its own system to issue child abduction alerts.

Authorities say 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike was lured into a man's van near her school bus stop on May 2, and found dead the next day in the desert south of Shiprock, New Mexico.

An Amber Alert wasn't issued until the morning after her disappearance.

Students At Albuquerque School Protest Trump Election - Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal

Nearly 200 students of a private school in Albuquerque are protesting Donald Trump's election as president.

Albuquerque Academy students chanted "Not my president! Not my president!" as they marched off the campus in northeast Albuquerque and ended up outside the school's main gates Wednesday morning.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that some students held signs with slogans such as "Love Trumps Hate" and "Black Lives Matter."

Albuquerque Academy's website says it is an independent college preparatory school with instruction in grades 6-12.

Head of School Andrew Watson says the school's staff encourages engaged citizenship but didn't organize the rally or either encourage or discourage participation.

Report: New Mexico Struggles With Aging Doctors - Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

A University of New Mexico report shows that New Mexico has the highest percentage of doctors in the nation older than 60.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that despite adding 441 physicians to the state in the last three years, the average doctor in New Mexico is about three years older than the national average.

UNM Health Sciences Center Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Larson told the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday that in coming years the state could see a shortage of doctors as they reach retirement age.

The study also suggests that aging doctors could lead to even fewer medical professionals in rural areas in coming years.

Kirtland Air Force Base Unveils Medal Of Honor Wall - Associated Press

A Medal of Honor wall has been unveiled at Kirtland Air Force Base.

The Albuquerque Journal reports two of the 76 living recipients of the Medal of Honor attended the Tuesday event at the 58th Special Operations Wing's Medal of Honor Wall.

Portraits of 93-year-old Retired Air Force Cols. Joe M. Jackson and 73-year-old James P. Fleming are the first to go on the wall.

Both were awarded medals for rescues while they served in Vietnam. The men said they were honored and humbled to attend the event.

Col. Brenda Cartier commands the 58th and said only 18 Airman have received the medal since the Air Force was created 69 years ago.

Five more Medal of Honor recipients have been chosen to go on the wall next.

University Of New Mexico Regents Eye New Seal Design - Associated Press

Though the University of New Mexico Board of Regents has not moved to change the school's official seal, they have created a process to consider a new one.

Regents on Tuesday voted to create a process to design a new seal and gauge the cost of adopting it.

The university's current seal, which was adopted in 1969 and depicts a frontiersman and a Spanish conquistador, has been criticized by Native American student groups as being racist. Critics say the seal reflects the state's violent past toward Native Americans.

Opponents of changing the seal say replacing the symbol could be costly, especially when so few students are opposed to the current seal. Board President Rob Doughty says that despite tens of thousands of people being in the UNM community, only about 300 have spoken out about the seal.

New Mexico Senate Delegation Condemns Trump AppointmentAssociated Press

Two Democratic U.S. Senators from New Mexico are condemning the appointment of conservative media executive Stephen Bannon as the top White House strategist to President-elect Donald Trump.

Sen. Tom Udall said Tuesday in a statement that the appointment signals Trump has forgotten his pledge for unity. He says Bannon spent recent years running a far-right website that demonizes women and spreads hate-filled lies about racial, ethnic and religious minorities.

Sen. Martin Heinrich says he finds it "sickening" that his constituents will be paying Bannon's salary. Trump praises Bannon as a highly qualified leader.

Under Bannon's leadership, the news site Breitbart became a platform for the "alt-right," a loose group espousing a provocative and reactionary strain of conservatism.

New Mexico Governor Travels To Meet With Mike PenceAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence Tuesday and defended President-Elect Donald Trump's choice of a chief strategist accused of anti-Semitism and misogyny.

Martinez traveled to Orlando for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association and to speak with Pence, the head of Donald Trump's transition team.

Martinez is chairwoman of the association that helps elect GOP candidates for governor. The second term GOP governor has offered congratulations to Trump on his election after refusing to endorse his campaign.

Trump is under fire for selecting media executive Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist. He ran the news site Breitbart and made it a platform for the "alt-right," a loose group espousing a provocative and reactionary strain of conservatism.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Martinez said at a news conference that as president-elect, Trump can decide who to appoint, but the most important thing is what he will now deliver.

The election that propelled Trump to the White House also resulted in Republican wins in a trio of governorships previously held by Democrats in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The Republican Governors Association spent more than $50 million on this year's races. The association is paying for Martinez's travel.

US Finalizes Rule To Limit Gas 'Flaring' At Drilling Sites - By Matthew Daly, Associated Press

The Obama administration is moving to complete rules intended to clamp down on oil companies that burn off natural gas on public lands.

New rules finalized Tuesday seek to reduce waste and harmful methane emissions as President Barack Obama addresses climate change.

Energy companies frequently "flare" or burn off vast supplies of natural gas at drilling sites because it makes less money than oil. A government report last year said 40 percent of the gas being flared or vented could be captured economically and sold.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says natural gas should be used to power the economy and not be wasted by being burned away. She says drilling rules are 30 years old and need to be updated.

GOP Governors Hope To Move Fast On Making Promised ChangesBy Gary Fineout, Associated Press

The nation's Republican governors eagerly awaiting GOP President-Elect Donald Trump are warning they need to move fast on many of the changes that have been promised to voters.

The Republican Governors Association held its annual conference at a resort near Disney World this week where several governors talked eagerly Tuesday about how Trump's election could herald sweeping changes on everything from health care to education.

Most of the GOP governors mentioned health care when discussing their top priorities.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Scott called President Obama’s healthcare overhaul a "disaster" and said Republicans need to repeal it entirely.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, however, said she expected people to continue to enroll for insurance using health care exchanges as long as it's the law and that they can't just take away insurance from people who have it now.

An estimated 20 million Americans are now receiving coverage through different elements of the overhaul including Medicaid or through health care exchanges that offer insurance policies.

Investment Returns Surge At New Mexico Pension FundAssociated Press

Managers of New Mexico's public retirement fund for educators say investment returns surged by 3.7 percent during the three-month period ending in September.

A quarterly investments report released Monday by the New Mexico Education Retirement Board shows its pension assets climbed to an all-time high of $11.7 billion at the end of September.

The board oversees pensions for employees of public school districts, charter schools and universities across New Mexico. The fund is confronting long-term challenges as unfunded liabilities climbed to $6.6 billion at the end of the most recent fiscal year.

Chief Investment Officer Bob Jacksha says assets grew even as pension benefit payments outpaced contributions from employees by about $100 million from July through September.

NMSU Campus Police Say Armed Student Shot, WoundedAssociated Press

Campus police at New Mexico State University say an armed man shot and wounded by police is a 28-year-old student, and is expected to recover.

Police say the student, who has not been identified, was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot in the leg during a late-night confrontation with campus police in Las Cruces.

Campus police and university spokesman Justin Bannister said the shooting occurred late Monday night after two officers responded to a report of a man with a gun at apartments on campus. Campus Police Chief Stephen Lopez says the student appeared in a police body camera video to be threatening another person when an officer arrived.

Lopez says an officer opened fire when the student did not comply with commands.

He did not provide more details.

No one else was reported injured.

Federal Team At Nuclear Storage Site To Evaluate ReadinessAssociated Press

A team of Department of Energy experts is evaluating the readiness of the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository to emplacing waste for storage.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico has been closed since February 2014 due to a radiation release, and the Energy Department team arrived at the facility on Monday for a two-week review.

According to the department, the team will examine the facility's proficiency in receiving and handling waste shipments. Other review subjects include maintenance, operations, fire safety, radiological controls, emergency management and safety processes.

There's a backlog of waste at sites around the country that needs to be shipped to the facility for permanent disposal

State environmental regulators also will inspect WIPP.