Governor Pulling National Guard Troops From Border, Bill Promotes Outdoor Recreation Economy

Feb 5, 2019

New Mexico Governor Pulls National Guard Troops From BorderAssociated Press

The governor of New Mexico is withdrawing the majority of the state's National Guard troops from the U.S. border with Mexico in a move that challenges President Trump's description of a security crisis.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the withdrawal in a statement Tuesday, shortly before Trump's State of the Union address.

She says a small portion of the state's 118-troop deployment will remain in the southwest corner of New Mexico to assist with humanitarian needs in what is a remote corridor for cross-border immigration.

New Mexico deployed troops to the border in April at Trump's suggestion.

Lujan Grisham is rejecting assertions about a national security crisis at the border, while acknowledging concerns about a tide of asylum-seekers.

Police Suspect New Mexico Blast That Killed 1 Was Suicide – Associated Press

Police suspect a man who died in an explosion behind an Albuquerque, New Mexico, strip mall intended to kill himself.

The improvised explosive device exploded Monday in an alley near a busy intersection, killing one man who has not been identified by police.

No one else was injured in the afternoon blast that shook nearby homes and businesses.

Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said the explosion  didn't appear to be linked to terrorism.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik said in a statement Tuesday that preliminary evidence indicates the incident was a suicide.

Federal authorities are assisting with the investigation. Police have not said whether the man killed had a connection to the mall that includes a grocery store and other businesses.

'Improvised Explosion' Kills 1 In Albuquerque - Associated Press

Police say an "improvised explosion" detonated in an alley behind a strip mall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has killed a man believed to be behind the device.

Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said Monday the blast didn't appear to be linked to any terrorist act but the FBI is investigating. The name of the man killed has not been released and police don't know if he was connected to the shopping center.

Geier told reporters police believed there was no perceived threat to anybody else and there were no other suspects.

He said no direct residents were near the blast but it had a radius of about 75 meters and could be heard around two miles away.

Businesses in the west side mall were evacuated after the early afternoon explosion.

Exxon, Qatar Petroleum To Expand LNG Export Plant In TexasAssociated Press

Exxon Mobil is making a big bet on the future of exporting natural gas.

Exxon and Qatar Petroleum announced Tuesday that they will go ahead with a $10 billion project to expand a liquefied natural gas export facility on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Exxon says construction will start before April and the plant in Sabine Pass, Texas, is expected to begin running in 2024.

The oil company says the project will create 9,000 jobs during the five years of construction and more than 200 permanent jobs.

Worldwide demand for liquefied natural gas is soaring, led by a steep increase in imports by China.

At the same time, U.S. gas production has set records, with much of it coming from the Permian Basin in west Texas and New Mexico.

New Mexico Man's Child Sexual Assault Cases Stirs AngerAssociated Press

A New Mexico man arrested in three cases involving alleged sexual assaults on children and who was released twice now may remain in jail until trial.

Raymond Hernandez is scheduled Wednesday to appear before a state district judge as prosecutors seek to have him held without bail.

The 29-year-old Questa resident was first arrested Jan. 14 and accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. He was released on a $10,000 bond.

He was arrested two days later and charged with raping a 19-month-old girl on the same day as the previous case. He was released on a $20,000 bond.

New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts director Artie Pepin says prosecutors didn't ask a magistrate judge to hold Hernandez in either case.

Hernandez was arrested again and charged with raping a 5-year-old girl but those charges were dismissed.

New Mexico Seeks Riches, Enrichment In Outdoor RecreationAssociated Press

New Mexico lawmakers want to rev up the state's outdoor recreation economy with help from a new state promotional and planning office and a public-private trust fund to ensure youths from low-income household have access to the area's natural wonders.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday offered her endorsement as lawmakers introduced a bill to create an outdoor recreation office, adapted from similar state staffs in Utah and Colorado. The bill seeks $1.6 million in initial funding.

The office of roughly six employees would recruit outdoor businesses to the state, assist with recreation infrastructure proposals, and promote educational initiatives and collaborative programs with Native American tribes.

The bill is backed by legislators including Rep. Angelica Rubio, who rode a bicycle across the state to attend the Legislature this year.

2 Arrested After Trespassing Into Mine ShaftCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Authorities say two people were arrested after trespassing into a New Mexico mine shaft.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Monday that Bryon Williams and Ashlynn Spencer were arrested for trespassing Friday into a 700-foot deep mine shaft.

Eddy County Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Hutchinson would not speculate on why Williams entered the mine shaft owned by IMC.

Williams, who was wanted on several unrelated warrants, eventually exited the shaft unharmed, and was arrested.

Hutchinson says charges are pending for Williams related to the incident.

Spencer was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of burglary tools.

Court records don't list defense attorneys who could comment on the allegations.

New Mexico Bill Would Add Homeless To Hate Crimes LawAssociated Press

A New Mexico bill that proposes to add the homeless as a protected class under the state's hate crime statute is set to go before lawmakers Tuesday.

Under the measure sponsored by Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, an Albuquerque Democrat, people who are motivated to carry out attacks on the homeless because of the victims' economic status would face additional penalties for their crimes.

The measure comes after a series of attacks on the homeless in Albuquerque in recent years.

New Mexico's hate crime law allows for increased penalties for crimes that target people because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, disabilities or religion.

New Mexico Governor Approves Previously Vetoed Initiatives - Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed 42 bills that mirror initiatives vetoed by her Republican predecessor.

The bills that were signed into law span issues from teacher pensions to child foster care and public disclosures by lobbyists.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf said at a bill signing ceremony that there have never been so many bills approved in so little time. The Legislature convened Jan. 15. Both Republican and Democratic legislators attended the ceremony to applaud the legislation.

The signed bills would close a loophole that allowed lobbyists to buy politicians meals and drinks of up to $100 without disclosure, boost pensions for teachers with few absences at work and give first priority to the homes of extended relatives when children are placed in foster care.

Bernalillo County To Settle Lawsuit In Deadly 2017 Shooting - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

A New Mexico sheriff's department will pay $1.75 million to settle lawsuits stemming from a deputy's fatal shooting of two unarmed suspects who authorities say had been in a stolen truck when they were killed.

Bernalillo County will pay the sum to resolve litigation in the November 2017 shooting, KRQE-TV reported Sunday after obtaining details of the settlement through a public records request.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department said that Deputy Joshua Mora had pursued a stolen vehicle before opening fire on driver Isaac Padilla, 23, and passenger Martin Jim, 25. Mora had said he feared for the safety of colleagues when Padilla revved the engine after authorities had managed to force the truck off the road and corner it.

Sheriff Manuel Gonzales has said Mora was justified in his decision to open fire. Mora declined to comment when reached by the news station.

New Mexico Bills To Restrict, Tax E-cigarettes Advance - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Measures advanced Monday in the New Mexico Legislature that would impose taxes on e-cigarettes and prohibit vaping of nicotine products in locations where traditional cigarettes already are banned.

A House panel on health policy endorsed legislation from Democratic state Reps. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe and Liz Thomson of Albuquerque that would nearly double taxes on most 20-packs of cigarettes to $3.16, and increase excise taxes on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 25 percent to 76 percent. It would boost annual state government income by about $70 million, money destined for public schools.

A separate Democrat-backed bill that cleared the committee would ban e-cigarette use in places where traditional smoking is prohibited, as well as areas including non-tribal casinos and tobacco stores that share ventilation with adjacent workplaces.

The bills aim to counteract the rapid increase in e-cigarette use and expand a 2007 law that prohibited smoking in many workplaces and public venues.

U.S. health officials recently announced an epidemic in e-cigarette use among young people. Recent U.S. figures show e-cigarette products are now the top high-risk substance used by teens.

Michael Sam, Gay Player Drafted In NFL, To Speak At UNM  - Associated Press

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in any major U.S. sport, is scheduled to speak at the University of New Mexico.

The former University of Missouri football standout is slated to address students on Feb. 12, in Albuquerque. Sam is expected to tell students how to use personal strengths to pursue one's own dreams.

Sam made history in 2014 when he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League in the seventh round. He stepped away from football in August 2015 due to mental health reasons.

He currently shares his experiences as a motivational speaker.

UNM-Gallup Teachers Want To Bring Back 'Red Mesa Review' - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Four University of New Mexico-Gallup teachers are planning to revive a once-popular literary magazine on campus.

The Gallup Independent reports the teachers want to bring back the Red Mesa Review after a two-year hiatus.

The four faculty members, who refer to themselves as the "collective editorial board," are planning to have their earliest issue published sometime this year.

The magazine will feature short stories, poems and essays. It will also include art and photography.

The editorial board is looking for poetry, short fiction, essays and black and white artwork with a Four Corners or Southwestern focus.