Water Forecast Is Bleak For Southwest Reservoir, Land Commissioner Files As Libertarian

Feb 7, 2018

Water Forecast Is Bleak For Major Reservoir In Southwest USThe Associated Press

Forecasters say one of the most important reservoirs in the Southwestern U.S. will likely collect less than half its normal amount of spring runoff this year because of a warm, dry winter across much of the region.

Hydrologist Greg Smith of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday Lake Powell is expected to get 47 percent of its average inflow because of scant snow in the mountains that feed the Colorado River.

Smith says there's only a 10 percent chance that enough mountain snow will fall during the rest of the winter to bring inflows back to average.

Lake Powell, in Utah and Arizona, helps ensure the Colorado River has enough water to get through dry years. The river supplies water to about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,000 square kilometers) of farmland.

Land Commissioner Files As Libertarian For US Senate SeatThe Associated Press

The New Mexico land commissioner has filed to run for the Libertarian Party's nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Aubrey Dunn has recently changed his voting registration from Republican to Libertarian to run against incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich and Republican candidate Mick Rich.

Dunn joins a list of Libertarians who filed declarations of candidacy Tuesday to run for state and federal offices after the Secretary of State's Office last week gave the Libertarian Party major party status in New Mexico.

The status upgrade came as a result of the 2016 presidential race when Libertarian Gary Johnson had relatively strong showing.

Dunn says it's likely he will pick up both Republican and Democratic voters, noting there's an area between the two parties that both are not addressing.

New Mexico Studies Creation Of Medicaid Buy-In CoverageThe Associated Press

New Mexico will study opportunities to provide Medicaid coverage through a fee to people who earn too much money to qualify for the health care program for the poor.

The state Senate voted 33-8 on Wednesday to commission a year-long study of possibilities for expanding health care coverage by allowing more people to buy into Medicaid. The House already has approved the measure.

Decisions about whether to proceed with a buy-in program would be left until next year, after GOP New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez leaves office.

The buy-in concept involves redirecting federal subsidies for coverage in the marketplaces created under former President Barack Obama's health care law to a new category of Medicaid. It has the backing of a coalition of local public health advocacy groups.

New Mexico Senate Approves Reforms Of Guardianship SystemThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Senate has approved a bill aimed at overhauling New Mexico's guardianship laws.

The Senate voted 40-0 on Wednesday for reforms designed to increase state oversight and public access to information regarding professional guardians and conservators who manage finances and care for vulnerable elderly and disabled people. The bill now moves to the House.

The Senate-approved bill includes more stringent reporting and financial accountability measures. It also requires that conservators be bonded or secure other asset-protection.

Those placed under guardianship or conservatorships are typically elderly, those with dementia or Alzheimer's or others who need help with their decision-making or finances.

Currently, guardians and conservators proceedings are secret and families have complained about being barred from visiting or communicating with their loved ones once a professional guardian is appointed.

New Mexico Considers Pet Food Fee To Pay For SterilizationAssociated Press

State lawmakers are embracing a proposal to help pay for dog and cat sterilizations by collecting a new annual fee from pet food manufacturers.

A panel of Senate lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the annual $100 fee on each brand name of pet food distributed in New Mexico.

New Mexico's Department of Agriculture says there are more than 13,000 pet food and treat labels registered with its offices. Legislative analysts say the financial impact on pet owners would be negligible.

A state government study found that animal shelters and pounds euthanized 55,000 dogs and cats in 2011 because they could not find enough homes to care for the animals.

Other states including Maryland and Maine have enacted surcharges or special fees on pet food to fund spay and neuter programs.

New Mexico Preschool Funding Proposal Clears HouseAssociated Press

New Mexico House lawmakers have approved a proposal to increase funding for early childhood education in New Mexico by distributing more money from a multibillion dollar state sovereign wealth fund.

The House voted 36-33 on Tuesday in favor of the constitutional amendment to increase annual distributions from the Land Grant Permanent Fund by 1 percent. It now heads to the Senate for consideration. Last year, a similar measure stalled in the Senate.

Supporters say a substantial increase in state spending is needed to improve and expand preschool education. Approval by the Legislature would set up a statewide vote in November.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is seeking more general fund spending for early childhood education but opposes greater investment withdrawals. Constitutional amendments do not require the governor's signature.

Doña Ana County Undersheriff Is Fired After InvestigationAssociated Press

Doña Ana County Undersheriff Ken Roberts has been fired after an investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.

Sheriff Enrique "Kiki" Vigil announced Tuesday that an internal affairs investigation was conducted by an independent investigations firm and the findings recently returned were substantiated in one of the complaints against Roberts.

Vigil didn't disclose details of the findings.

Last month, Roberts was suspended without pay for 10 days and temporarily relieved of all supervisory duties.

Roberts was named undersheriff in August 2016.

He was previously an investigator in the public corruption and white collar crimes division.

Opera Of Rudolfo Anaya's 'Bless Me, Ultima' Set To Premiere - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The highly anticipated opera adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya's famed novel "Bless Me, Ultima," one of the most recognizable works of Mexican-American Literature, is set to premiere.

And the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque announced this week that all five dates for the "Bless Me, Ultima" opera later this month already have been sold out.

Center executive director Rebecca Avitia says the excitement around the "Bless Me, Ultima" opera shows that Latinos will attend opera productions if they can recognize the themes and if those productions have Hispanic performers.

The opera was written by California-based composer Hector Armienta.

Experts say Anaya's novel sparked the Chicano literary movement in the late 1960s and influenced a generation of Latino writers.

Gov. Martinez Appoints New District Judge In San Juan CountyDaily Times, Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed a new district judge to fill an empty position in San Juan County.

The Daily Times reports that Sarah Weaver was appointed on Friday to the Division 3 district seat for the 11th Judicial District.

The vacancy occurred when Sandra Price retired from the bench at the end of last year.

Weaver's first day on the bench is set for March 5. She says she's humbled and excited for the opportunity.

Members of the 11th Judicial District Judicial Nominating Commission selected Weaver, who has practiced law for more than 24 years.

The governor's office cited Weaver's strong legal background as an attorney in private practice and as a prosecutor.

The appointment lasts through the end of the year.

Authorities Say 2 Bodies Found In Eastern New MexicoAssociated Press

A New Mexico sheriff's deputy says authorities have found two bodies and a vehicle in remote eastern New Mexico, and investigators are awaiting a medical examiner's report to determine whether the remains are those of a missing elderly couple.

According to the Chaves County sheriff, a rancher discovered the bodies Tuesday near a dirt road. There was no sign of foul play, and authorities suspect exposure was the likely cause of death.

Chief Deputy Shane Baker says the deceased include a man and a woman.

He could not confirm whether the vehicle that was found matched the description of one belonging to Rosendo and Hortencia Lara, both in their 80s and from Bovina, Texas.

The couple was last seen Jan. 19 in the town near the Texas-New Mexico border. Family members reported them as missing.

Man Gets Prison For 2016 Albuquerque Crash That Killed GirlAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A man has been sentenced to six years in prison for an Albuquerque freeway crash in 2016 that killed a 10-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say Xavier Nelson got the maximum sentence for vehicular homicide caused by reckless driving.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a judge also ruled Tuesday that the crime was a serious violent offense, meaning Nelson must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Nelson allegedly was driving more than 100 mph when his car slammed into a family's vehicle on Interstate 25 in November 2016.

Carmen Esmeralda Rivera Nevarez died in the crash.

Nelson argued he was going no more than 85 mph and the other vehicle veered into his lane.

Prosecutors say crash data showed Nelson's car was going 107 mph and he never applied the brakes.

Man Shot In Head In Apparent Road Rage IncidentSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A scientist's father says his son is recovering from surgery after being shot in the head in an apparent road rage incident.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office says no arrest had been made as of Monday.

A police report says the victim, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, was driving behind a Jeep when the vehicle braked several times. The victim slowed down.

The report says the driver of the Jeep then pulled over at an intersection, waited for the victim and got back on the highway behind the victim's vehicle.

The victim says the driver pulled up next to his vehicle and he heard two loud pops.

Authorities say a CAT scan showed a bullet between the victim's scalp and skull.

Lawmakers Reject Extra Police At Bridge To Prevent SuicidesAssociated Press

A panel of House lawmakers on Tuesday declined to set aside money for extra police monitoring at the Taos Gorge Bridge in an effort to prevent suicides at the site.

Reps. Roberto "Bobby" Gonzales and Debbie Rodella, two northern New Mexico Democrats, wanted the state to divert more than $150,000 to reassign three state police officers to monitor the isolated bridge.

The steel deck arch bridge sitting 650 feet above the Rio Grande has also been the site of more than 125 suicides in 20 years.

Other lawmakers have suggested that the bridge needed suicide barriers but that idea has hit roadblocks due to funding and concerns the barriers would exceed the bridge's weight limit.

A panel of House lawmakers on Tuesday declined to set aside money for police monitoring, and instead will write a letter to local law enforcement agencies asking for new safety suggestions.