KUNM

Fight Over Energy Law Heads To NM Supreme Court, NM Medical Cannabis Program Open To Outsiders

Aug 30, 2019

Fight Over Energy Law Heads To New Mexico Supreme Court- Associated Press

Environmentalists and PNM are asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to settle a dispute over whether the state's new energy law must be considered as regulators deliberate the planned closure of a coal-fired power plant.

The groups petitioned the court late Thursday to force the Public Regulation Commission to take into account the Energy Transition Act as part of the proceedings over shuttering the San Juan Generating Station.

Aside from mandating more renewable energy, the measure includes a financing mechanism that supporters say is necessary for the plant's closure in 2022.

The law allows PNM and other owners of San Juan to recover investments by selling bonds that will be paid off by utility customers. The bonds will fund decommissioning costs, severance packages for displaced workers and job training programs.

Authorities Say Teen Killed By Police In Carlsbad Fired Gun- Associated Press

State authorities say an officer in Carlsbad shot and killed a 16-year-old after the youth brandished a pistol and opened fire.

New Mexico State Police say they are investigating the shooting that happened Thursday.

The Carlsbad Police Department detective who opened fire was not identified.

Authorities say officers were investigating a homicide and searching for 16-year-old Randall Gamboa at an apartment complex when they saw him walking and approached him.

Authorities say the teen shot at police, prompting the detective to open fire.

Authorities say Gamboa died at Carlsbad Medical Center.

Authorities say they believe the gun he had on him was the same one used in the homicide that police were investigating.

State police say their investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff Investigates Jail Inmate's Death In New Mexico- Associated Press Authorities say an inmate at a southern New Mexico jail died after becoming ill and collapsing in his cell. The Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office says it is investigating the death of 47-year-old Zachary Barela. He had been jailed for a year and 10 months. The Office of the Medical Examiner is also investigating, and an autopsy at the agency's facility in Albuquerque is pending. Sheriff's officials say Barela became sick on Wednesday evening and collapsed around 10:20 p.m. Authorities say Barela had not reported medical issues at the jail, where he was booked in October 2017 on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault on an officer and shooting at a home. 

Albuquerque Crossing Guards Learning To See Signs Of Abuse- KRQE-TV, Associated Press

Dozens of school crossing guards in Albuquerque are learning how to recognize signs of child abuse.

KRQE-TV reports that police held a special training session Friday at their academy for approximately 150 crossing guards.

The two-hour training taught them how to spot signs of child abuse in their interactions with elementary school students.

Crossing guards learned what they should do if they think there's a child who needs support and what resources are available.

Police Lt. Ferris Simmons says the department is open to making the training an annual event.

More West Nile Cases Reported In New Mexico- Associated Press

New Mexico health officials say five more cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in the state since the first human case was reported in early August.

The Health Department says the new cases were reported in Bernalillo, Doña Ana, San Juan and Valencia counties.

New Mexico has had cases of West Nile every year since the virus migrated to the state in 2003. There were seven cases in 2018 and 33 cases in 2017.

West Nile virus is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There are no vaccines to prevent it or medications to treat it.

Officials say five of the six cases this year resulted in neuro-invasive disease, the most severe form of the disease. One case resulted in uncomplicated West Nile fever.

Ruling Opens New Mexico Medical Pot Program To Outsiders - Associated Press

A judge has ruled that New Mexico's medical marijuana program is open to people from outside the state who qualify based on a medical condition.

The final ruling Thursday by Judge Bryan Biedscheid responds to a petition by two Texas residents and the Arizona-based CEO of the largest chain of medical cannabis dispensaries in New Mexico in his capacity as a patient with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reforms this year to the state's medical cannabis statutes deleted the in-state residency requirement for prospective marijuana patients. The office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says that change was unintended and plans to appeal.

The ruling puts New Mexico's medical pot program within close reach of visiting Texans and citizens of neighboring Mexico. Texas limits the psychoactive element THC in its medical marijuana.

New Mexico Posts Online Its Settlement Payouts - Associated Press

Dozens of financial settlements are being posted online that resolve claims against New Mexico state government for civil rights violations, malpractice, whistleblower retaliation and other misconduct.

The General Services Department on Thursday opened access to financial settlements negotiated by the state's risk management division that provides legal representation to public employees and state agencies.

The move responds to concerns about undisclosed multimillion-dollar payouts to resolve claims of discrimination and retaliation against Public Safety Department officials and other state personnel under the administration of former Gov. Susana Martinez.

Financial terms of settlements are available at the state's website clearinghouse for public information known as the Sunshine Portal

Newly disclosed settlements run the gamut from a $3,500 civil rights settlements to a $290,000 payout for medical malpractice.

New Mexico Agencies Seek Combined Leverage On Drug Pricing - Associated Press

A new consortium of public agencies in New Mexico has begun efforts to leverage the state's purchasing power to reduce consumer costs for prescription drugs.

The Interagency Pharmaceuticals Purchasing Council held its first meeting Thursday that brings together representatives from nine state agencies and institutions.

Member agencies include the Human Services Department that oversees Medicaid, Corrections Department, University of New Mexico and health care insurance authorities for retired public employees and educators.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces sponsored legislation to create the council and helped arrange $400,000 in initial funding for staffing and financial analysis.

He says the collaborative group represents the interests of about a million consumers and will pursue multimillion-dollar opportunities for savings on pharmaceuticals.

The council is directed by General Service Department Secretary Ken Ortiz.

Investigators Rule New Mexico Fireworks Explosion Accidental - Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Investigators have determined that a fireworks explosion that killed a New Mexico firefighter and severely injured another was accidental.

The Roswell Daily Record reported Wednesday that Roswell firefighters were packaging fireworks on June 5 for the city's Independence Day celebration when the explosion occurred.

The blast led to the death of 46-year-old Jeff Stroble on July 21. Hoby Bonham was sent home from the hospital in late June.

The report from the state fire marshal's office says the firefighters were fusing aerial shell fireworks with electric matches.

It says an initial explosion caused the rest of the fireworks to ignite, blowing out the walls of a building at the Roswell International Air Center.

The city declined to comment, citing possible litigation over the blast.

New Mexico Official Says Retake State Land Leased To Epstein - By Mary Hudetz Associated Press

New Mexico's attorney general urged officials Thursday to retake state trust land that had been leased to Jeffrey Epstein's ranch, saying the financier's bid for the scrubby, desert acreage meant for cattle grazing should not have been granted.

In a statement, Attorney General Hector Balderas accused Epstein of leasing the state land simply to build privacy around a multimillion-dollar estate on his own land — where distant peaks serve as a backdrop to an isolated hilltop mansion.

State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, who announced last month she would pursue options for canceling Epstein's leases, said she had already moved to have her office prepare cancellation notices. She said the attorney general's assessment provided extra standing for her decision.

Epstein, 66, killed himself earlier this month in a New York jail cell while awaiting a sex trafficking trial. His New Mexico ranch, which records show is owned by his holding company Cypress Inc., is roughly 10,000 acres. A small portion of the ranch covers state trust land.

State Says 8 Cases Of Severe Lung Disease From Vaping, E-cigs - Associated Press

New Mexico Department of Health officials say they're now investigating eight cases of severe lung disease associated with vaping and e-cigarette use.

They say the eight state residents have required hospitalization following the development of respiratory symptoms such as cough and difficulty breathing.

Five of them required intensive care during their hospitalizations.

State health officials also say all of patients who have been interviewed regarding vaping behavior reported the use of vape cartridges containing Tetra hydro cannabinol (THC) oil.

The patients range from 17 to 46 years of age, five are male and all eight live in either Santa Fe, Los Alamos or Bernalillo county.

Report Says US Native American Health Agency At Crossroads -  Associated Press

Emergency rooms shut down for months. Hospital policies put patients at risk for opioid abuse and overdoses. A longtime pediatrician was charged with sexually abusing children.

The federal agency that administers health care to more than 2.5 million Native Americans has long been plagued with problems.

Money, staffing, infrastructure, health disparities and lack of accountability all have played a part.

A federal report released Thursday said things won't get better unless the Indian Health Service takes a serious look at its organizational structure.

The report by the U.S. Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General is meant to maintain pressure on the Indian Health Service.

The agency recently released a five-year plan to address access to health care, quality, management and operators. It says change will take time.

Federal Complaint Targets New Mexico Horse Racing - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

A horse owner and a trainer from Texas say officials in New Mexico are failing to follow their own policies and regulations in overseeing the state's multimillion-dollar racing industry.

They're suing in U.S. District Court, alleging their rights to due process were violated when the executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission allowed horses belonging to a trainer suspended for suspicion of illegal drugging to compete under other trainers.

The plaintiffs say they missed an opportunity to compete in the recent All American Futurity because the transferred horses were allowed to run and place in trials for the prestigious race.

Commission executive director Izzy Trejo declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The case comes as concerns swirl around drug testing, the certification of track stewards and other issues.

Ex-Tribe Chapter Accounts Specialist Pleads Guilty To Fraud - Associated Press

Navajo Nation officials say a former Tsayatoh Chapter accounts maintenance specialist has pleaded guilty to 16 counts of fraud.

Tribal prosecutors say Roberta Silversmith issued 16 checks between June 2016 and January 2017 to her son, who never worked at the chapter.

They say Silversmith deposited the checks into her son's account and then transferred the amount of more than $11,340 into her own bank account.

Silversmith was arraigned Aug. 19th in the District Court of Window Rock and pleaded guilty to all charges.

Her sentencing date hasn't been set yet.

Prosecutors say the maximum penalty for a single violation of fraud is a year in prison and/or a fine of $5,000.

Body Of Missing New Mexico Man Found In Arizona - Associated Press

Authorities say the body of a New Mexico man who went missing last month has been found in Arizona.

Police say the body of 44-year-old Craig Cavanaugh of Farmington was identified Wednesday in Coconino County in northern Arizona.

Farmington police say Cavanaugh was last seen July 4th as he was traveling to Peoria, Arizona for a job.

Police say three men used his credit cards in Payson, Glendale, and Peoria between July 5th and 7th and Cavanaugh's truck was found on July 12th.

But authorities say those men aren't considered suspects in Cavanaugh's disappearance.

Coconino County Sheriff's detectives say one possible suspect in the case led authorities to a wooded area outside Heber and a body was located Aug. 5th, but identification came later by fingerprints.

The possible suspect hasn't been named.

Brew The Years: Beer Fans 'CANvention' Opens In New Mexico - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

It's "CANvention" time for hundreds of beer aficionados.

Collectors from around the world began buying, trading and selling containers of brews Thursday at the 49th annual gathering of members of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America.

One collector said some of the mostly empty vessels of beer are selling for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars, while others are opting to swap their six-packs with fellow fans of foam.

Rich La Susa, of Gold Canyon, Arizona, says he has attended all but one of the gatherings since the group started meeting in 1970.

The group was formed after collector Denver Wright, Jr. placed an ad in a St. Louis newspaper looking for like-minded compatriots.

After the swapping ends, some participants said they were going to a beer tasting.

New Mexico Forgoes Green Bonds On Energy Efficiency Projects- Associated Press

New Mexico has decided against green-bond financing that has the potential to attract socially conscious investors as it forges ahead this month with energy efficiency improvements to a fleet of state buildings in Santa Fe.

The New Mexico Finance Authority that oversees a revolving infrastructure loan fund for public projects found few prospects for savings on borrowing costs on the Santa Fe project after studying the bond market for financing environmentally minded projects.

Separately bundled "green" bonds for the Santa Fe energy efficiency project would have been too small of an offering to attract competition from investors and future savings on interest, according to officials at the finance authority. Tax-exempt bonds without green certification were sold in June.

Lujan Grisham has vowed to make renewable energy investments and policies that address climate change a hallmark of her administration, while endorsing goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming.

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