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Headlines: Obama Budget Cuts WIPP Funding, Updates From The Roundhouse...

Feb 3, 2015

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Obama Budget Would Reduce Funding For New Mexico Nuke DumpThe Associated Press

President Barack Obama's proposed budget would provide less money for the nation's underground nuclear waste repository but relatively stable funding for New Mexico’s two major Energy Department weapons labs.

Funding for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad would be cut $76.3 million. The facility is currently closed because of a radiation leak.

Los Alamos National Laboratory's funding would increase by 4 percent, while funding for Sandia National Laboratories would see a 1 percent reduction.

Obama submitted his proposed budget yesterday for the federal fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 to Congress.

Virgin Galactic Gets Back On Track Toward Space Tourism The Associated Press

The only thing interrupting one of New Mexico's most remote stretches of desert is a pristine runway where Virgin Galactic plans one day to launch the world's first commercial space-line.

But the runway has seen little use. No roar of jet engines. Just delayed promises of shuttling passengers to the edges of Earth.

Then came a deadly mishap over California's Mojave Desert last fall during a test flight of the company's rocket-powered spacecraft. Speculation swirled about the future of commercial space travel and Spaceport America.

But Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides says testing will take off again in 2015.

He says the company is turning the corner. It's on track to compete its second spaceship and ramp up for a test-flight program that will serve as one of the last major hurdles to getting off the ground.

New Mexican National Guard Unit Preparing For Deployment - The Associated Press

A Santa Fe-based New Mexico National Guard unit is preparing to deploy to the Middle East.

C Company of the 171st Aviation Regiment's 1st Battalion heads first to Fort Hood, Texas, for about a month of additional training before it deploys to Kuwait for a year.

The company flies Blackhawk helicopters to perform medical evacuations.

It last deployed in 2011-2012, completing more than 1,400 missions in Afghanistan.

Albuquerque Officer Confronts Man Accused Of Shooting Him  - The Associated Press & KRQE

A homeless man charged with attempted murder for shooting at an Albuquerque police officer has been confronted by the injured lawman.

KRQE-TV reports that Officer Lou Golson told a judge Monday that 36-year-old Christopher Cook ambushed him for no reason during a suspected drunken driving traffic stop last month.

Golson appeared in court in a wheelchair and said it might take him a year to recover from gunshot wounds. He says he has two still-open bullet wounds and a broken femur.

Footage from Golson's lapel camera shows a man opening the vehicle's door and firing several shots at the officer. Golson was hit four times and fell to the ground before returning fire.

Cook, who previously pleaded not guilty to similar charges, is being held on $500,000 cash or surety.

New Mexico Senate Panel OKs Drone Hunting Ban Bill - The Associated Press

A New Mexico Senate panel has voted to approve a bill that officially would ban the use of drones for hunting.

The Conservation Committee voted 9-0 to move the proposal.

Sen. Howie Morales sponsored the bill that outlaws unmanned devices used to hunt game.

The state Game Commission has already voted to make it illegal to use drones to signal an animal's location, to harass a game animal or to hunt a protected species observed from a drone within 48 hours.

The proposed bill would make it illegal under state law.

Bill To End Social Promotion In Schools Clears NM Panel - The Associated Press

A panel of New Mexico lawmakers has voted to keep children from moving into the fourth grade if they're not proficient readers.

The House Education Committee Tuesday approved 7-6 along party lines the promotion and retention legislation backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. The bill now heads to a full vote in the House of Representatives.

But Martinez's plan to end social promotion faces opposition from Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who says student retention should be based on teachers' assessments, not reading test scores.

The bill by Albuquerque Rep. Monica Youngblood calls for retaining third-graders who are not reading proficiently and giving them intensive remediation. The legislation also says kindergartners through second-graders may also be held back if struggling with reading. Seven Republicans on the panel supported the measure.

Balloon Pilots Recognized By New Mexico LawmakersThe Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are honoring the pilots who crossed the Pacific Ocean in helium-filled balloon as part of an effort to smash a pair of major distance and duration records that had stood for decades.

Pilots Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia traveled Tuesday to the state Capitol, where lawmakers declared it "Two Eagles Day."

On Monday, the pilots presented flags from their historic flight to the city of Albuquerque.

The Two Eagles balloon landed early Saturday just off the coast of Baja California after being aloft for nearly seven days.

The pilots traveled farther and longer in a gas balloon than anyone in history. Still, international aviation officials need to ratify the distance and duration of the flight, a process that can take months.

New Mexico Burger Chain Expanding Into Arizona - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A New Mexico-based burger chain is expanding into Arizona.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Blake's Lotaburger plans to open its 78th location near the University of Arizona campus by mid-summer and has others in Tucson in the works.

Business development manager Craig Wood says Blake's as of now doesn't have plans to move into the Phoenix market.

Blake's operated only in New Mexico until a year ago when it entered the El Paso, Texas, market.

New Mexico Legislators Will Consider Ending Social Promotion - The Associated Press

A panel of New Mexico lawmakers is set to consider a bill to keep children from moving into the fourth grade if they're not proficient readers.

The House Education Committee will take testimony today on the promotion and retention legislation backed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Her plan to end social promotion faces opposition from Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who says student retention should be based on teachers' assessments, not reading test scores.

New Mexico House Votes To Expand Amber Alert System - The Associated Press

The New Mexico House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation that requires cellphone and pager companies to issue Amber Alerts to their customers.

The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration. If approved, the expanded alerts will come at no charge to customers.

The system is designed to alert people about a missing or abducted child. Supporters credit the program with finding and saving nearly 500 children nationwide since 2002.

New Mexico Senate Panel Eyes Coyote-Killing Contest Ban - The Associated Press

The Senate Conservation Committee is scheduled to discuss outlawing coyote-killing contests.

The bipartisan measure would make the contests illegal in the state but not prevent landowners for hunting the predators on their property.

In October, a southeastern New Mexico gun shop drew criticism for hosting a coyote hunting competition. It was one of many gun shops that have hosted similar events where winners receive prizes like firearms.

Barricade Situation Partly Closes Major Albuquerque Street - The Associated Press

Police say a major street in southwest Albuquerque was partially closed during the morning commute after a barricade situation that ended peacefully.

Authorities say Central Avenue Tuesday closed in both directions between 59th Street and Yucca Drive because a man barricaded himself and a woman in an apartment and is refused to allow her to leave.

Officer Fred Duran says both subjects were interviewed.