New Mexico Delegation Calls For Debate On Syria, Governor Vetoes Tax Increases

Apr 8, 2017

New Mexico Delegation Members Want Plan, Debate On SyriaAssociated Press

Several Democratic members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are calling for President Donald Trump's administration and Congress to plan and debate a U.S. strategy on Syria.

The comments follow U.S. military strikes on a Syrian air base after a chemical weapons attack against civilians in Syria.

Sen. Martin Heinrich said the U.S. response demonstrated the United States won't just stand by when chemical weapons kill dozens of innocent people. Heinrich added that the administration needs a strategy "with an end game in sight."

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said the chemical weapon attack demanded a response but said Congress can't allow "an inexperienced and volatile President to act alone when the stakes are so high."

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said Congress should be presented a plan for review and debate.

New Mexico Governor Vetoes Tax IncreasesAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed a $350 million package of tax and fee increases designed to shore up shaky state government finances.

Martinez said Friday in a veto message that the Legislature ignored her repeated promises to veto tax increases. She says a proposal to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel sales would place an undue burden on families.

She also objects to new taxes on the sale of vehicles and trucking permit fees approved by the Democrat-led Legislature.

New Mexico's traditional streams of tax revenue have been eroded by relatively weak energy prices and a stagnant local economy, with reserves nearly depleted.

Martinez says she will call a special session to resolve a $156 million budget shortfall, but has not specified when. She is urging lawmakers to support a tax-code overhaul designed to improve the state's business climate by eliminating hundreds of tax breaks, including long-standing exemptions for nonprofit organizations. The reforms would lower standard tax rates on sales and services.

Local Election Bill Doomed By Pocket VetoAssociated Press

There will be no reshaping of the political landscape for school boards, cities and other nonpartisan local governments in New Mexico through the consolidation of elections.

Gov. Susana Martinez did not take action on the bill before Friday's signing deadline, resulting in an automatic veto.

The measure would have allowed such local elections to be combined and put before voters in November every other year.

Experts had suggested that doing so could boost turnout. Currently, such elections draw little attention, with some failing to garner a single ballot.

Dona Ana County Clerk Scott Krahling says this marks the third time the legislation has failed. Krahling says democracies aren't successful if only a few people vote and consolidating elections would have been a step in the right direction.

State Police Say Oklahoma Man Shot In Traffic StopAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say an officer shot and wounded a man from Oklahoma during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 in Gallup.

They say 33-year-old Steven Thompson of Oklahoma City was shot in the abdomen and taken to a hospital for treatment Friday morning.

State police say an officer stationed in Gallup stopped a vehicle on the west end of Gallup for a traffic violation around 7 a.m.

The officer asked the driver — later identified as Thompson — to stay out of the vehicle.

But state police say Thompson got back in his vehicle and drove off with the officer getting in through the open passenger door.

Thompson was shot shortly afterward.

State police say no charges have been filed yet against Thompson, but their investigation is continuing.

BLM To Pay $70 Million For Oil And Gas Lease To By JuneAssociated Press

A federal agency says it will give New Mexico its payment for an oil and gas lease sale now that it has responded to environmental concerns.

The Roswell Daily News reports a U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesperson said Thursday that the state can expect its nearly $70 million payment by June 1, as scheduled, or earlier.

BLM spokesperson Donna Hummel says the agency has finishing reviewing two extensive written protests by environmental groups based in Santa Fe and Arizona. She says that the agency reviews all materials that come to them during a protest and takes them seriously.

The auction was made in Roswell last September. Hummel had previously said there was no guarantee New Mexico would receive full payment by the set date while the agency finished reviewing the protests.

New Mexico Records 1st Hantavirus Death This YearAssociated Press

New Mexico has recorded its first death this year from hantavirus.

The state Department of Health says the 54-year-old man who died was from San Juan County in northwestern New Mexico and that he was the second case of hantavirus confirmed in the state this year.

Hantavirus is a severe and sometimes fatal, respiratory disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva.

Public health officials say people can contract hantavirus when they breathe in aerosolized virus and that deer mice are the main carrier for the hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.

The department urges people to be mindful of stirring up dust in areas of rodent infestation when opening up sheds, cabins and other buildings that were closed up for winter.

Ex-Owner Of Albuquerque Sports Bar Gets Prison In Tax CaseAssociated Press

The former owner of an Albuquerque sports bar and restaurant has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for federal income tax evasion.

Prosecutors say 59-year-old James E. Coleman Jr. also was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

Coleman was the former president and owner of Sneakerz Inc., a corporation that operated Sneakerz Sports Bar.

Prosecutors say Coleman was indicted in November 2014 for tax evasion and filing false tax returns.

He pleaded guilty last June and admitted evading $1,045,939 in federal corporate and personal taxes between calendar years 2002 and 2009.

Coleman acknowledged underrepresenting Sneakerz's gross receipts to the IRS to evade his corporate tax liability and falsely underrepresenting the income he derived from Sneakerz on his personal tax returns.

Rio Rancho Police Say Suspect Arrested In Fatal Stabbing CaseAssociated Press

Police in Rio Rancho say they've arrested a suspect in a fatal stabbing last month.

They say Joseph Vargas is jailed on suspicion of an open count of murder and tampering with evidence.

Police say Vargas also had warrants for probation and parole violations.

Vargas was arrested Thursday and police say he allegedly confessed to the March 31 stabbing incidents.

Police say 23-year-old Kenneth Torres was declared dead at the scene and another man remains hospitalized in critical condition.

They say the stabbings followed a fight involving the men, but an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

It was unclear Friday if Vargas has a lawyer yet for his case.