New Mexico To Issue New Real ID Cards, Suspect In Officer Death Found Guilty

Oct 28, 2016

New Mexico To Issue New REAL IDs Nov. 14The Associated Press

New Mexico will begin issuing REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses, and driver's authorization cards for immigrants in the country illegally, starting Nov. 14.

The Taxation and Revenue Department announced Friday the date the motor vehicle division will issue the new cards after state lawmakers passed a REAL ID bill earlier this year.

The agency did not specify what documents will be needed to get a REAL ID from New Mexico. But it did say to get the driver's authorization card, applicants must prove residency and identity, and must submit fingerprinting and undergo a background check.

In March, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a law that allows immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to only obtain driver's authorization cards.

Advocates have warned proposed regulations could unnecessarily tighten documentation requirements for basic state identification cards that the poor use to get jobs.

Suspect In Officer Death Found Guilty Of Firearms ChargeThe Associated Press

An ex-convict has been found guilty of illegally possessing a pistol that was used to shoot and kill an Albuquerque police officer.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo announced the verdict Friday. Her decision follows a two-day bench trial that ended Tuesday in which witnesses described seeing the shooting, and a man — identified by police as Davon Lymon — in a helmet run away.

Authorities say the gun used in the shooting was tossed by Lymon as he fled.

Officer Dan Webster pulled over Lymon on Oct. 21, 2015, because the suspect was riding a motorcycle with a stolen plate.

Police named Lymon as a suspect in the shooting, but he has not been charged in state court in the case. State prosecutors say they're preparing to file charges soon.

Appeals Court Denies Request To Halt Drilling In New MexicoThe Associated Press

An effort to temporarily halt drilling across part of one of the nation's largest natural gas fields has been rejected by a federal appeals court, leaving environmentalists to push their case against hydraulic fracturing in district court.

A coalition of environmental groups sued the Bureau of Land Management in 2015, accusing the agency of failing to study the effects of fracking on local communities, the area's cultural resources and the environment as it approved dozens of drilling permits in the San Juan Basin.

They sought a court order to stop drilling while their case is heard.

In a decision issued this week, a panel with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a lower court and found that the groups failed to make their case for temporarily halting drilling.

Cibola County Private Prison Could Hold ICE DetaineesThe Associated Press & The Gallup Independent

A New Mexico county has conditionally approved a contract to house Haitian immigration detainees at a private prison.

The Gallup Independent reports that the Cibola County Commission voted Wednesday to approve the contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

County attorney Dave Pato says the contract approval is contingent upon County Manager Tony Boyd negotiating and executing a contract with the Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the private facility.

Jeb Beasley, CCA Managing Director of Partnership Relations in Nashville, says the company began negotiating with ICE after the federal Bureau of Prisons decided not to renew its contract with CCA. Beasley says the company still has about 160 employees in Cibola County.

The prison, Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, is scheduled to shut down at midnight Sunday.

New Mexico Settles Lawsuit Over Immigrant Tax RefundsThe Associated Press

A New Mexico state senator says the Taxation and Revenue Department has agreed to halt a practice of automatically withholding income tax refunds from many foreign nationals without social security numbers who file income taxes under alternative tax identification numbers provided by the IRS.

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino said Friday he has co-signed a settlement agreement as a plaintiff that says state tax authorities will no longer withhold tax refunds based solely on discrepancies between a taxpayer's individual taxpayer identification number and any social security number on W-2 income forms.

The Taxation and Revenue Department and other parties to the settlement declined to comment or acknowledge the agreement.

The senator says related refunds will only be withheld based on federal instructions or documented instances of fraud in the future.

Immigrant License Applications Could Hit Record— Associated Press
The number of immigrants seeking driver's licenses in New Mexico remains on pace to reach a four-year high amid a deadline to adopt a new law.

Data obtained by The Associated Press through a records request showed 3,886 licenses were issued to foreign nationals from January to October.

That's just shy of the 4,026 licenses granted to foreign nationals for all of 2015.

Officials said they believe the spike came because immigrants in the country illegally wanted to get New Mexico driver's licenses before the state adopts a new law before a Nov. 18 deadline.

Applicants aren't required to submit information on immigration status, so officials do not know how many licenses went to such immigrants.

In March, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a law that allows immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to only obtain driver's authorization cards.

Santa Fe National Forest Eyes Geothermal Energy Development— Associated Press, The Los Alamos Monitor

Santa Fe National Forest is still accepting public comment about the potential environmental effects of a geothermal energy development on forest land.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports the move comes after Nevada-based Ormat Technologies expressed interest on nearly 200,000 acres of land within forest boundaries.

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the All Pueblo Council have both come out against the project. They say the project could have hurt water bodies and land near water bodies.

Environmentalists also say three listed species — Jemez Mountains salamander, New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, and Mexican spotted owl — could face more problems.

Mental Health Advocates Set Unveil Southern New Mexico Plan— Associated Press
Mental health advocates are set to unveil new initiatives aimed at tackling southern New Mexico's mental health issues.

Lawyers, medical officials and activists are scheduled Nov. 3 to define their specific policies and priorities during a Domenici Institute Forum at the New Mexico State University.

The group is part of the Dona Ana Wellness Institute and the Stepping Up Partnership formed to help the behavioral health and criminal justice systems to work together in southern New Mexico.

The partnership also seeks to help people living with mental illnesses stay out of jail and recover while avoiding incarceration.

It comes as New Mexico recently improved fourteen spots — from 36 to 22 — in Mental Health America's annual rankings.

Santa Fe Community College President Gets Contract Extension— Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe Community College's president is getting a contract extension.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the college's governing board voted Wednesday to extend President Randy Grissom's contract through July 2018.

Board Chairwoman Kathy Keith says Grissom has "a clear and sharp focus" and credited him for helping the college navigate through the state's budget crisis.

The community college faces a $550,000 decrease in state funding. He says he has no plans to cut instructional programs at the school.

Grissom told the board he will present an adjusted budget for the current school year, including his proposed cuts, in January.

Trial For New Mexico Mom In Son Incest Case Moved To 2017 — Associated Press, Clovis News Journal

The trial of a New Mexico mother facing charges for having an incestuous relationship with her 19-year-old son has been has been moved to next year.

The Clovis News Journal reports that the trial for 36-year-old Monica Mares is now scheduled for March 2017.

District Court Judge Fred Van Soelen also moved the incest trial for 19-year-old Caleb Peterson to sometime next year but no date was giving. The move came after Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb asked for a fixed date.

Mares and Peterson made international headlines following a recent interview with the British paper the Daily Mail. They told the newspaper they made their relationship public to raise awareness about "Genetic Sexual Attraction."

The mother and son are scheduled to face separate jury trials on one count each of incest.