Lawmakers Asked To Boost Courts Spending, New Mexicans Wary Of Candidates' Proposed Drilling Bans

Nov 25, 2019

Lawmakers Asked To Boost Spending On New Mexico Court System - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil is asking legislators to boost spending on the state court system.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Vigil joined other court officials Friday in Santa Fe to request an 8.9% increase in appropriations from the state's general fund.

Vigil says the money would be used to hire five new district judges, expand pretrial services that supervise defendants awaiting trial and improve security, especially for magistrate courts.

If the request is approved, the judiciary will receive about $199 million in the fiscal year that begins in July.

It's part of a broader state budget expected to exceed $7 billion.

Two of the five new judges would be stationed in Albuquerque, and the other three would be based in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Alamogordo.

New Mexicans Wary Of Candidates' Proposed Drilling Bans - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Democrat front-runners for the party's presidential nomination have promised to ban oil and gas leasing on federal lands if elected.

The Carlsbad Current Argus reports that has caused some concerns in New Mexico, where the industry was credited for billion-dollar budget surpluses in recent years. Much of the revenue has been funneled to educational initiatives.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is a Democrat who represents an area of New Mexico that includes one of the most prolific energy basins in the United States.

She says shutting down drilling in New Mexico today would mean shutting down schools tomorrow.

Torres Small says she opposes a full ban on oil and gas activities, instead advocating for energy production to be done responsibly while minimizing environmental harm.

Health Officials: New Mexico Chronic Disease Deaths Decline - Associated Press

New Mexico's health department says death rates in the state from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke declined last year, but rates of suicide, homicide and unintentional injuries were up.

The latest numbers are outlined in the state's highlights of vital statistics for 2018. Deaths from flu and pneumonia also rose in 2018 from the previous year.

Life expectancy at birth for people in New Mexico in 2018 was 78.1 years, a slight decrease from 78.2 in the prior year. Life expectancy declined for males from 75.3 to 74.9, while life expectancy for females increased from 81.2 to 81.5 years.

The birth rate in the state continued to decline to a record low of 11 births per 1,000 people.

Prisoner Transport Officer Sentenced For Sexual Misconduct - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A judge has sentenced a former private prisoner transport officer to two years in prison after sexually assaulting a woman in his custody.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that 51-year-old James Baldinger of Minnesota was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque for inappropriately touching a restrained woman without her consent.

Prosecutors say Baldinger was working for Prisoner Transportation Services of America in July 2017 when he touched the woman while taking her from Kentucky to Bernalillo County on an out-of-state warrant.

U.S. Attorney John Anderson says Baldinger "committed a grievous violation of the public trust" by using his law enforcement authority over the woman.

Anderson says the plea shows the U.S. Attorney's Office will hold people who violate inmates' rights accountable.