Senators Voice Concerns With Health Overhaul, NM Sees Increase In Jobless Rate, Highest In Nation

Mar 25, 2017

The Latest: Senators Voice Concerns With Health Overhaul—Associated Press

New Mexico's two senators have joined dozens of their colleagues in warning Republican leaders in the House that they will not support the current proposal to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich issued the statement Friday as House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew the legislation after President Donald Trump asked him to halt debate without a vote.

Heinrich and Udall say the bill could have a devastating effect on New Mexico, where the Medicaid population has swelled to more than 40 percent in recent years.

The insurance superintendent's office says tens of thousands of New Mexicans could lose out on coverage if changes are made, and the state's uninsured rate could end up doubling over the next decade.

New Mexico Sees Increase In Jobless Rate, Highest In Nation—Associated Press

New Mexico's unemployment rate went up in February, ensuring the state would again have the country's highest percentage of unemployed workers.

Statistics released by state and federal officials on Friday show that New Mexico's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in February, up from 6.7 percent in January.

The national unemployment rate is 4.7 percent.

Only Alaska and Alabama have jobless rates in the six-percent range.

Reports indicate that government jobs declined by 500 positions. State leaders have often said New Mexico depends too heavily on government jobs.

The downturn in the oil and gas industry has also negatively affected the job rate.

Martinez To Consider Bill To Combine Local Elections—Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal

A piece of legislation awaiting Gov. Susana Martinez's signature would reshape the political landscape for school boards, cities and other nonpartisan local governments in New Mexico by consolidating elections and putting them before voters in November every other year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that currently, such elections draw little attention, with some garnering zero ballots.

Political analyst Brian Sanderoff says combining school board and municipal elections could boost turnout significantly. School elections draw maybe 5 percent turnout on their own, but Sanderoff says municipalities attract up to 45 percent.

Municipalities would have the option of opting out of the combined elections. Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull says Rio Rancho will likely take that option.

Martinez has until April 7 to sign the bill or it automatically is vetoed.

Northbound I-25 Closed In Raton Area Of Northern New Mexico—Associated Press

Northbound Interstate 25 is closed in northern New Mexico near the Colorado line due to blizzard or white-out conditions from the bottom of a spring storm in Colorado.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation says northbound I-25 was closed Friday morning between Raton and Raton Pass, which is on the state line.

The National Weather Service says snowfall and strong winds will continue in the Raton area and other mountain areas of northern New Mexico through midday Friday.

Forecasters say snowfall amounts will be light to moderate but that visibility will be near zero at times due to snow and blowing snow.

Strong winds are expected much of central and eastern New Mexico through Friday.

Las Cruces Has New City Attorney, Economic Development Head—Associated Press

Las Cruces has a new city attorney and a new director of the just-created economic development department.

City Manager Stuart Ed announced on Friday that Jennifer Vega-Brown will be the new city attorney while Philip San Filippo will run the economic development department.

Vega-Brown comes from Rio Rancho, where she worked as city attorney and assistant city attorney. She used to be assistant county attorney and public information officer for Bernalillo County. Vega-Brown starts the job on April 10.

San Filippo has already been running the new department on an interim basis and officially starts the job on March 27. He's the prior executive director of Visit Las Cruces and also has experience in the private sector.

Prosecutors Want Bond For Las Cruces Suspect Increased—Associated Press

Prosecutors in Las Cruces say a judge has denied their request to hold a 19-year-old man suspected of brutally killing a man with a shovel on no bond.

They say Taylor James "TJ" Enriquez had his bond reduced to $100,000 and that a judge refused to increase it.

Enriquez faces charges of murder, false imprisonment and battery in connection to the late February death of 23-year-old Alberto Nunez-Lopez of Mesquite.

Police were dispatched to a home around 8 p.m. Sunday and found a man with multiple lacerations to his head and neck.

Police say it appears the two men got into a fight and Enriquez allegedly used a shovel to strike Nunez on the head and then a bottle to strike the victim's neck.