Health Insurance Costs Rising For Many NM Teachers, Report Says Abq Has Spent $300k On Image

Sep 5, 2019

Health Insurance Costs Rising For Many New Mexico Teachers- KRQE-TV, Associated Press

Health insurance premiums will rise next month for thousands of New Mexico educators.

The New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority, which insures more than 30,000 educators statewide, is increasing insurance premiums for its medical and dental plans in October, KRQE-TV reports .

For so-called low tier medical plans, premiums will rise approximately 3% and cost members an additional $5 to $16 per month depending on how many people are covered by the plan.

For the high tier plans, premiums will rise about 6%, meaning those with the plans will pay an additional $7 to $41 per month.

Dental plan premiums will rise 5%.

State lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to pass a bill during the last session that would have set aside more state funds to help lower costs of some educators' insurance premiums. The bill died in committee.

6 Cases Of The Mumps Being Investigated In Bernalillo County- Associated Press

State health officials say they're investigating six cases of the mumps in Bernalillo County.

New Mexico Department of Health officials say the patients range in age from 7 to 41.

Mumps is a highly contagious disease that is typically preventable through vaccination.

It is spread through the air and by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs or sneezes.

The virus can be spread through shared use of drinks, cups or eating utensils.

Health officials say people exposed to mumps could become ill 12 to 25 days later.

But some people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms and often they don't know they have the disease.

Country Singer Kylie Rae Harris Dies In New Mexico Crash- Associated Press

Country singer Kylie Rae Harris was one of two people killed in a three-vehicle crash in northern New Mexico.

Harris' publicist confirmed her death Thursday, saying family and friends of the 30-year-old Texas native were heartbroken.

Harris was on her way to Taos when the crash happened Wednesday night along State Road 522. She was scheduled to take the stage Thursday afternoon at the annual Big Barn Dance Music Festival.

The Taos County Sheriff's Office says one of the other drivers — a 16-year-old girl — also was killed. The third driver escaped injury. Authorities did not release their names.

The sheriff's office says alcohol is suspected as a factor in the crash but they did not release details.

Harris released her self-titled album earlier this year.

New Mexico Adds Automation As It Ramps Up Film Tax Rebates- Associated Press

New Mexico says it will streamline its system for delivering multimillion-dollar tax rebates to film productions by certifying in-state vendors to automatically qualify for the incentives.

The state serves as the recent backdrop for "Better Call Saul," ''The Goldfinch" and "Godless" and offers rebates of up to 35 percent to video productions for in-state spending and resident employees.

The Taxation and Revenue Department on Thursday announced the creation of a voluntary certification for film-industry contractors that ensures eligibility for the credit.

Taxation officials will verify that businesses have a physical presence in New Mexico and are up-to-date on tax obligations. Certification is valid for two years.

New Mexico recently increased its annual cap on rebates to $110 million, not including companies such as Netflix with long-term business commitments.

In Arizona, Pentagon-Funded Border Fence Already Underway- Associated Press

Construction on a Pentagon-funded portion of border fence began this week near Yuma, Arizona, just as federal officials revealed a list of Defense Department projects that will be cut to pay for President Donald Trump's wall.

The 30-foot steel fence will be built along the Colorado River in a section of border that had a big increase in migrant families earlier this year but slowed to a trickle in recent weeks. The exact details of the project are unclear, but it appears it will consist of about 5 miles of fencing.

Trump declared a national emergency in February that freed up billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to pay for the wall, in addition to the $1.4 billion that Congress had already allocated. The president has largely prevailed in legal challenges brought by opponents and environmentalists, allowing wall projects to launch in Arizona and New Mexico in recent weeks.

Arizona Bans Hunting Contests For Killing Wildlife Predators- Associated Press

Arizona has banned organized contests where hunters try to kill the most coyotes or other wildlife predators for prizes such as cash or hunting equipment.

The Governor's Regulatory Review Council voted 6-0 Wednesday to approve a rule initiated by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The measure will take effect in 60 days.

The commission voted unanimously in June to ban contests that require registration and a fee and award prizes for killing the most coyotes or other fur-bearing animals or predators.

The Arizona ban doesn't apply to lawful hunting of predators or other fur-bearing animals.

Wildlife-killing contests have drawn the ire of activists in recent years.

New Mexico banned the contests in April and several other states reportedly are considering similar rules or legislation.

$125M For New Mexico Defense Projects Going To Border Wall- Associated Press

Federal authorities want to divert $125 million from two planned projects at New Mexico military bases to help to build part of President Donald Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Members of the New Mexico congressional delegation were informed Wednesday of the Department of Defense's decision.

Funding is expected to be diverted from an $85 million project for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle training facility at Holloman Air Force Base and from a $40 million project for an information systems facility at White Sands Missile Range.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the use of $3.6 billion in funding diverted from 127 military construction projects to build 175 miles of the wall along the southern border.

Drug Overdose Deaths On The Rise In New Mexico-Associated Press

New Mexico health officials say the number of drug overdose deaths in the state increased in 2018, largely due to methamphetamine use.

Wednesday, the Health Department reported that overall drug overdose deaths among residents rose more than 9% from 491 in 2017 to 537 in 2018.

That marked the second largest number of overdose deaths recorded in the state. There were 540 deaths in 2014.

Officials say methamphetamines were the driver for last year's overdose death rates. More than one-third of overdose deaths involved methamphetamines in 2018, up from 31 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2012.

Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel says her agency's work to address drug use is evolving and that the focus will include meth use as well as ongoing efforts aimed at prescription drug abuse.

New Mexico Cancels Leases At Remote Epstein Ranch - Associated Press

The state land commissioner is canceling grazing land leases at deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein's secluded ranch in central New Mexico that she says were used to cast a veil of secrecy.

Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard on Wednesday notified holding company Cypress Inc. that leases have been canceled on two state trust land parcels at Epstein's Zorro Ranch near the town of Stanley.

Epstein killed himself in a New York jail cell Aug. 10 while awaiting his sex trafficking trial and inquiries continue into whether his alleged crimes were abetted.

Garcia Richard says access to inspect a state holding within the private ranch was refused repeatedly in August. She also cites misrepresentations in the lease application process that include appraisements signed by former Epstein girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.

Report Says Albuquerque Has Spent $300k On Image Campaign - KOB-TV, Associated Press

Records show the city of Albuquerque has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a campaign aimed at transforming the city's image.

KOB-TV reports more than $312,000 has been spent on merchandise connected to the One Albuquerque campaign since Mayor Tim Keller took office last year.

The city has spent over $50,000 for the One Albuquerque statue in Civic Plaza and around $540 for items such as pens.

Marketing and Innovation Director Carlos Contreras says campaign spending is spread out across departments.

Keller began the One Albuquerque campaign as a way to celebrate the city's diversity and reshape the city's image.

But since taking office, residents have expressed worries about high auto theft rates and violent shootings.

Recently, Uruguay issued a travel warning about Albuquerque over crime.