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NM Prisons On Track To Exceed Capacity, Writ Claims Albuquerque Judges Violate Case Dismissal

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Forecast: New Mexico Prisons On Track To Exceed CapacityThe Associated Press

New Mexico's prisons are nearing capacity, putting more pressure on state lawmakers to find solutions as they consider a host of criminal justice reforms ahead of the next legislative session.

The New Mexico Sentencing Commission presented its latest prison population forecast to the legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee on Wednesday in Santa Fe.

The forecast suggests the need for beds will grow partly due to an increase in parole violations and the high percentage of serious violent offenders who must serve more time before becoming eligible for release.

The report indicates the number of women in prison is expected to surpass capacity within a year and space will run out for male inmates in about two years.

Sentencing Commission executive director Linda Freeman told lawmakers New Mexico doesn't have enough halfway houses and other transitional programs.

Writ Claims Albuquerque Judges Violate Case Dismissal Rule – The Associated Press

A writ filed in a New Mexico District Court claims judges in Albuquerque routinely violate the 10-day rule that requires case dismissal if prosecutors fail to formally file charges.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that two men, whose cases remained open for weeks despite lacking formal charges, filed the writ on Monday accusing Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court judges of the rule violation.

The petitioners' attorney Alan Wagman says a pending felony case, especially one left open, can wreck defendants' lives.

The Attorney General's Office is representing the judges, and a spokesman says they would review legal options when they are properly served with the pleadings.

The petition asks the District Court to direct the Albuquerque judges to immediately follow the rule.

Santa Fe Approves Ban On Traveling Wild, Exotic Animal ActsThe Associated Press

Santa Fe will no longer allow wild and exotic animal acts due to an approved amendment to the city's animal welfare ordinance.

The City Council and mayor approved the amendment on Wednesday in an 8-1 vote after an hour of public testimony that was largely in support.

The amendment prohibits shows of wild or exotic animals performing tricks, giving rides or participating in the amusement of a live audience. Animal exhibitions for educational purposes are excluded from the ban as well as common domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, cattle and horses.

City Councilor Signe Lindell who sponsored the proposal says that animals forced to entertain are subjected to abuse.

Opponents say they fear that the move could eventually lead to bans on other animal-related events like rodeos.

Funeral Services Set For Former US SenatorAssociated Press

Memorial services are scheduled this weekend for former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici.

New Mexico's longest serving senator, Domenici died Wednesday morning of complications from abdominal surgery.

A public celebration of the longtime lawmaker's life will be held at Isotopes Stadium in Albuquerque on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The family also has arranged for a rosary Friday evening at Our Lady of Fatima in Albuquerque. A funeral service will follow Saturday morning at the Catholic church.

Domenici's family said in a statement Wednesday that while they are mourning his death, they are also celebrating his life and many achievements. They expressed their gratitude to his supporters and all who have offered condolences.

The family said as much as Domenici did during his six terms in the Senate, he always felt there was more he could do and he was always ready to get to work.

Late GOP Sen. Domenici Had Unique Immigration Link: His MomAssociated Press

Pete Domenici, the longest-serving senator from the most Hispanic state in the United States, kept his family's immigration experience private for years.

In one of his last speeches as a senator, the New Mexico Republican told his colleagues in 2007 that his deceased mother had been an immigrant from Italy in the U.S. illegally. She had been briefly detained by federal agents during World War II.

The Republican recounted on the Senate floor how as a child he wept during his mother's absence. It was a story that shocked his Senate colleagues, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat.

Domenici said his experience convinced him to introduce legislation granting immigrants in the country illegally a pathway to citizenship. The bill failed.

Domenici died Wednesday at 85.

New Mexico State University Innovation Hub Gets $1M GiftAssociated Press

New Mexico State University's entrepreneurship and innovation hub is getting a major financial boost.

The school announced Wednesday during the opening ceremonies of the Domenici Public Policy Conference that the Arrowhead Center is the recipient of a $1 million gift from Paul and Alejandra de la Vega Foster.

The money will be used to drive collaboration between the center and partners throughout the region, which includes southern New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

Center director Kathryn Hansen says the goal is to create an environment where those connections spark greater innovation.

Paul Foster is the president of Franklin Mountain Management LLC, and the founder and former executive chairman of Western Refining Inc. Alejandra de la Vega Foster is the secretary of innovation and economic development for the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.

New Mexico Senators Push For Annual Reports On Lab Safety Associated Press

New Mexico's U.S. senators are pushing for language to be included in a major defense spending bill that they say would bolster safety at national laboratories in the state.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have proposed that the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board report to Congress each year on what additional resources are needed to ensure that operations at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory are safe.

The independent oversight panel found earlier this year that many of the safety systems in place at Los Alamos date to the 1970s and will need to be upgraded to meet future demands.

Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, restarted development last year of plutonium cores used to trigger the explosion in nuclear weapons. The U.S. Energy Department wants to ramp up production.

Unique Bracero Summit Focusing On World War II-Era AgreementAssociated Press

The Bracero Program, a World War II-era agreement that allows Mexican immigrants to work in the U.S. as guest workers, is the subject of an upcoming summit.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the University of Texas at El Paso are hosting next week the Bracero History Summit aimed at bringing together experts, scholars, and community members to study the project.

Organizers say Bracero History Summit attendees will have a rare opportunity to examine the roots and ongoing influence of the Bracero Program.

The Bracero Program grew out of a series of bi-lateral agreements between Mexico and the United States that allowed millions of Mexican men to come to the U.S. to work on short-term, agricultural labor contracts.

The two-day El Paso event starting Sept. 22 marks the 75th anniversary of the first braceros admitted into the U.S.

New Mexico Government Hiring Spree Aimed At EfficiencyAssociated Press

New Mexico state government is seeking to hire dozens of human resources professionals, in an ongoing effort to centralize and streamline personnel operations.

The State Personnel Office has announced it will interview candidates Friday for human resources positions based in Santa Fe and Albuquerque linked to nine state agencies, at a "rapid hire" event at agency offices in Santa Fe.

New Mexico employs about 18,000 people at agencies overseen by the governor, not including political appointees.

The ranks of state employees have shrunk in recent years mostly through attrition as New Mexico wrestled with a downturn in revenues linked to weak oil and natural gas prices.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez lifted a two-month hiring freeze in June as state finances showed signs of stabilizing.

New Mexico Base Seeks Expanded Training Space For FlightsAssociated Press

Holloman Air Force Base officials say their current array of flight training areas in southern New Mexico is outdated and that some need to be expanded, reshaped and relocated.

Officials from the Alamogordo, New Mexico, base are holding public meetings this week in several communities to receive public input on proposed changes that would have jet fighters flying over sparsely populated rural areas not now used for that purpose.

Holloman says its goals include maximizing training time, minimizing transit time for aircraft and limiting impacts to civil aviation.

The changes will be assessed in an upcoming environmental impact statement.

The changes are being considered as F-16s now based at Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah, are being shifted to Holloman to make room for new F-35s at Hill.

Warrant Issued For No-Show Witness Of Officer's DeathAssociated Press

A key witness in the case against a man accused of shooting and killing an Albuquerque police officer didn't show up for court, prompting the judge to issue an arrest warrant.

Prosecutors in the murder case against Davon Lymon say 19-year-old Savannah Garcia was a no-show for the Tuesday court hearing for which her deposition was scheduled.

The judge granted motions issuing a material witness warrant that allows authorities to hold her for five days so her deposition can be recorded.

Authorities say Garcia was on the back of Lymon's motorcycle when Officer Daniel Webster was shot and killed in October 2015.

Prosecutors say Garcia is homeless, and they found her about two weeks ago after a months-long search.

Lymon's trial is scheduled for March 2018.