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Thursday News Roundup: Valencia County Commisoners Vote Down Abortion Ban

Valencia County Commisoners Vote Down Abortion BanThe Albuquerque Journal

Last night a proposal to ban late-term abortions in Valencia County was rejected by County Commissioners in a 3-2 vote. 

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Chairman Charles Eaton said he had a hard time supporting a measure that was “largely symbolic” since at the moment there are no abortion providers in Valencia County, be it late-term or otherwise.

Commissioners who voted in opposition of the ordinance said if it passed, the County would be facing the need for heightened law enforcement as well as the possibility of expensive litigation.

A member of the conservative Right to Life group had requested that the bill be taken up by Commissioners in anticipation that a similar ordinance in Albuquerque would pass and cause late-term abortion providers in the city to relocate in Valencia County. However, Albuquerque voters rejected the measure last November.

New Mexico To Relocate Nearly 200 PronghornThe Associated Press

State wildlife officials plan to capture and relocate almost 200 pronghorn from a northern New Mexico ranch.

Game and Fish Department officials say the animals similar to antelopes will be herded, corralled and transported from a private ranch near Cimarron that has been experiencing damage to irrigated cropland.

The department will relocate most of the pronghorn to national forest land near Fort Stanton and to Bureau of Land Management land northwest of Roswell.

A small number also will go to Arizona so they can augment herds with declining populations.

In exchange, Arizona will provide New Mexico with 70 Gould's Turkeys to add to flocks in mountains in southern Hidalgo County.

Before being transported, the pronghorn will be vaccinated and fitted with radio collars.

The roundup will take place next week.

Albuquerque Businessman Eyes Udall Seat The Associated Press

An Albuquerque businessman who lost the GOP gubernatorial primary four years ago is setting his sights on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall's seat.

Republican Allen Weh (Way) announced his candidacy over the Internet Thursday morning, emphasizing his military service and experience as a successful businessman.

A former New Mexico Republican Party chairman, Weh founded the charter aircraft and leasing company CSI Aviation more than 30 years ago.

Weh has deep pockets. In 2010, he finished second behind Gov. Susana Martinez in a five-way GOP primary after lending his campaign $1.6 million.

Udall is making his first bid for re-election after winning the seat held for more than 30 years by retired Republican Sen. Pete Domenici. The most recent federal reports show he had cash-on-hand of $1.86 million.

Republican Candidate Announces Bid For State TreasurerThe Associated Press

 Former government official Rick Lopez of Santa Fe says he's running for the Republican nomination for state treasurer.

Lopez announced his candidacy on Thursday. He is deputy director for the nonprofit Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority and manages its Espanola office.

Three Democrats have said they plan to run for treasurer — former Sen. Tim Eichenberg of Albuquerque, Albuquerque lawyer John Wertheim and former Bernalillo County Treasurer Patrick Padilla

Democratic incumbent James Lewis is term-limited and can't seek re-election.

Lopez ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for land commissioner in 2002. He was state executive director of the U.S. Farm Service Agency during former President George W. Bush's administration.

Lopez has held several administrative positions in state agencies, including in the Taxation and Revenue Department and State Land Office.

Census Bureau: 1.6M Old Enough To Vote In NM - The Associated Press

The Census Bureau reports that three out of four New Mexicans are old enough to vote, but state figures indicate many residents aren't eligible to cast a ballot because they haven't registered to vote.

Statewide voter registration totaled nearly 1.3 million at the end of December. That represents about 80 percent of New Mexico's voting age population.

The Census Bureau reported earlier this month that nearly 1.6 million New Mexicans are age 18 year or older — accounting for about 76 percent of the state's total population.

Voter registration often climbs during an election year as political groups try to organize potential supporters. New Mexicans will go to the polls this year to elect statewide officials including the governor. All 70 state House members also are up for election.

Albuquerque Attorney Enters GOP Race For AG - The Associated Press

An Albuquerque attorney has entered the race to replace Attorney General Gary King.

Jim Baiamonte Wednesday announced his intentions, becoming the first Republican candidate for the seat also being sought by Democratic State Auditor Hector Balderas.

King is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Susana Martinez.

Baiamonte says he is a lifelong New Mexico resident and army veteran who practices criminal, family and civil law.

He says he running because the state has suffered "under too many Attorney Generals who have developed a 'do-nothing' approach." He says New Mexico needs genuine leadership and a commitment to doing the job correctly.

Feds Taking More Time To Make Decision On NM Fish - The Associated Press

Federal wildlife managers have given themselves more time to decide whether a rare fish found near the Arizona-New Mexico border should be listed as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday it's extending the deadline for a final decision on the status of the Zuni bluehead sucker because there's substantial disagreement over data the agency has on the fish.

Biologists say the bluehead sucker has seen its population shrink dramatically in the last 20 years. In New Mexico, it has disappeared from as much as 90 percent of its range.

The fish has been spotted in small streams in three New Mexico counties and Arizona's Apache County.

Drought, water use, development and nonnative fish are among the biggest threats facing the Zuni bluehead sucker.

NM Man Gets Prison For Killing Girlfriend, Her Dad - The Associated Press

A Santa Fe man who pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant girlfriend and her father has been sentenced to the maximum of 32 years in prison.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Marino Leyba Jr. was sentenced Wednesday after entering into a plea agreement last month.

Leyba pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2009 deaths of 17-year-old Sarah Lovato and 50-year-old Bennie Ray Lovato.

Leyba initially was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 and sentenced to 63 years in prison.

But the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned the verdict last year. The court ruled a key piece of the evidence against Leyba was inadmissible hearsay.

Sarah Lovato reportedly wrote in her diary about being afraid of Leyba. The high court ruled the diary shouldn't have been allowed in the case as evidence.

Oil, Gas Boom Boosts Earnings In NM - The Associated Press

An oil and gas boom in New Mexico and more than a dozen new renewable energy projects have translated into record earnings for the State Land Office.

Land Commissioner Ray Powell announced Wednesday his office brought in more than $670 million in 2013 for public schools, hospitals and other beneficiaries.

December alone marked a record month for the agency, with more than $79 million from oil and gas royalties and revenues from grazing, rights of way and other leases.

Powell says the lion's share of the revenue is the result of high oil and gas prices and increased volume.

If prices remain high and developers continue drilling through June, officials say the state would be on track to break the last fiscal year's earnings by as much as $100 million.