State Lawmakers Review New Nuclear Storage Proposal, Latino Political Group Pumps In Election Cash

May 19, 2018

New Mexico Lawmakers Review New Nuclear Storage ProposalAssociated Press

New Mexico state lawmakers are being briefed on a proposal to temporarily store tons of spent fuel from U.S. commercial nuclear reactors, along with concerns about safety and potentially adverse economic impacts.

State Rep. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces led a committee hearing Friday in an effort to educate New Mexico residents about safety risks and emergency preparedness efforts related to the plan from Holtec International.

Fasken Oil and Ranch representative Jimmy Carlisle is highlighting fears that a storage mishap could disrupt petroleum production at valuable oil reserves.

He says the very presence of the storage site in southeast New Mexico raises quality-of-life issues that may make it difficult to recruit oil-field technicians. Native American tribal representatives from Texas and New Mexico also are raising economic and safety concerns.

Latino Political Committee Pumps Cash Into New Mexico RaceAssociated Press

A national political committee that helps elect progressive Hispanics is spending an additional $100,000 on ads in support of Democratic congressional candidate Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

The Latino Victory Fund on Friday announced the ad buy in support of Sedillo Lopez, a former law school professor and advocate for immigrants and victims of domestic violence. The fund previously spent $320,000 in support of Sedillo Lopez.

Sedillo Lopez is competing in a crowded primary race for the Democratic nomination to an open congressional seat representing the Albuquerque metropolitan area. At least four Democratic candidates have Hispanic family ties.

Latino Victory Fund President Cristobal Alex praises Sedillo Lopez for her legal expertise and commitment to progressive stances on immigration and women's issues.

Albuquerque-based U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for governor.

Video Shows Police Question Girl Now At Center Of Abuse CaseAssociated Press

Albuquerque police video shows officers responding to concerns that a 7-year-old girl — now at the center of a human trafficking probe — was being neglected and abused.

Video released Thursday night shows officers in November visiting a hotel where they questioned the parents and girl. They determined she felt safe there.

Other video shows a teacher saying the girl arrived at school with soiled clothes that included a pair of bloody underwear. The underwear was discovered after the girl changed into donated clean clothes.

The teacher testified in a hearing this week that police threw away the underwear. That's not shown in the video.

The couple were indicted Thursday on separate charges.

The father is accused of forcing the girl to sexually touch adults. The mother is charged with child abuse.

New Mexico Governor Persists With Student Retention PlansAssociated Press

A years-long standoff over reading proficiency standards and whether young New Mexico students can be held back a grade is coming to a head in the closing months of the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

At a hearing Thursday, educators and school officials protested new rules that would alert families early about literacy difficulties and make some elementary students repeat a grade if they still can't read proficiently. The state Legislature has repeatedly rejected similar proposals.

Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski says the plan is based on open and honest communication with parents and has been misunderstood and misrepresented by opponents.

Groups including the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty say the rules are counterproductive and that it is more important to expand preschool and the school year.

New Mexico Unemployment Rate Slips To 5.4 Percent In AprilAssociated Press

New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate slipped slightly to 5.4 percent in April, down from 5.6 percent in March and 6.3 percent a year ago.

State officials said Friday that nonagricultural payroll employment has grown by 10,100 jobs, or 1.2 percent, between April 2017 and April 2018.  All gains have come from the private sector, which is up 10,600 jobs, or 1.7 percent. The public sector is down 500 jobs, or 0.3 percent.

In the private sector, service-providing industries are up 6,300 jobs, or 1.1 percent, while the goods-producing industries are up 4,300 jobs, a gain of 4.7 percent.

Border Patrol Supervisor Arrested In Child Porn CaseAssociated Press

U.S. prosecutors in New Mexico say a supervisory U.S. Border Patrol agent is being held in a federal child pornography case.

The office says 45-year-old Jason Christopher Davis of Las Cruces made his first federal court appearance Friday on a criminal complaint charging him with receipt of material containing or constituting child pornography. 

Davis is in federal custody pending a preliminary hearing and detention hearing on Wednesday.

The public defender appointed to represent him did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The criminal complaint says Davis is suspected of receiving child pornography in April.  It says Las Cruces police executed a search warrant on an email account subscribed to Davis. 

Phoenix Man Pleads Guilty To New Mexico Drug TraffickingAssociated Press

The U.S. Attorney's Office says a 55-year-old Phoenix man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Las Cruces to trafficking methamphetamine.

The office in New Mexico said Scott Richard Lange entered his plea Friday.

The Las Cruces Police Department arrested Lange and 42-year-old Amy R. Bailey, also of Phoenix, in September after finding more than four pounds of the drug in the vehicle he was driving during a routine traffic stop.

Lange acknowledged that he agreed to deliver the drug to Las Cruces for payment. 

He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison.  Lange remains in custody pending his sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

Bailey has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial in June.