Lawmakers Want More Scrutiny On Tax Incentives, Albuquerque Prepares For Plastic Bag Ban

Dec 30, 2019

New Mexico Lawmakers Seek Accountability On Tax Incentives - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico legislators want greater accountability regarding state grants and tax incentives for businesses that are designed to create jobs.

The push comes as the state ramps up financial support to a variety of industries. Proposed legislation by Democratic Rep. Bill Tallman of Albuquerque would require businesses that receive public support to provide the state with details about the number of related new full-time jobs, annual wages for those jobs and spending on local infrastructure.

The proposal holds implications for hundreds of businesses that receive more than $100 million in incentives each year.

Gila River Diversion Project Misses Out On Extra FundingAssociated Press

The U.S. Interior Department has decided not to extend a deadline involving a proposal to divert part the Gila River to aid rural communities, a move that cuts off access to more than $50 million in construction funds. 

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, and environmentalists praised the federal government's decision, saying the river that flows through southwestern New Mexico and into Arizona will be protected.

Timothy Petty, Interior's assistant secretary for water and science, says the "slow pace of progress" reflected a lack of urgency and priority for delivering water to rural communities.

Pocket Of Severe Drought Lingers Over Southwest USAssociated Press

Drought has yet to give up its hold over parts of the southwestern United States despite a series of storms that have brought rain and snow to the region in recent weeks.

The latest federal map shows a pocket of moderate and severe drought centered over the Four Corners region, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet.

Despite the continued dry conditions, forecasters say things are better than they were last year at this time when exceptional and extreme drought, the worst categories, had set in. They say average moisture levels resulting from snowfall are above normal across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Father Who Made Kids Panhandle For Drug Money Gets 20 YearsAssociated Press

A judge sentenced a New Mexico father to 20 years in prison after he was convicted of forcing his children to panhandle to get him money for drugs.

The office of Attorney General Hector Balderas said Monday the man was sentenced in Albuquerque, nearly three months after a jury found him guilty of three counts of human trafficking.

Authorities say the father forced all three of his children to panhandle around Albuquerque between 2015 and 2018. The children later testified against him.

The father denied the charges during the trial and said he doesn't do drugs.

Benny Martinez, Latino Civil Rights Leader, Dies At 85Associated Press

Benny Martinez, a Mexican American civil rights leader who helped organize the historic Latino gala with President John F. Kennedy, has died.

His daughter Loretta Martinez Williams, says Martinez died Sunday of natural causes. He was 85.

Born in Goliad, Texas, Martinez served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He returned to Houston and organized boycotts against businesses that refused to hire Mexican Americans.

Martinez joined the League of United Latin American Citizens and helped organize a gala for Kennedy the night before the president's assassination. Historians say the meeting was the first time a sitting president met with a Latino civil rights group.

New Mexico's Largest Metro Area Prepares For Plastic Bag Ban - Associated Press

Businesses in New Mexico's largest metropolitan area are preparing for rules that will take effect with the start of the new year that call for banning plastic bags. 

Officials with the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are hopeful the rules will encourage customers to curb their use of plastic bags that contribute to waste and take a long time to break down. But local business leaders say they're being forced to swap their supply of plastic bags for more expensive and less convenient options. 

Restaurants will be exempt, but as many as 6,800 other businesses may be affected.

New Mexico City Gets Grant To Help With Census Work - Associated Press

A library in eastern New Mexico is one of several dozen around the United States that are receiving grants from the American Library Association to support the 2020 census. 

Officials at the Roswell Public Library say the funding will allow them to collaborate with local businesses, the school district and others to provide assistance to the public with filling out their census forms. 

The library has a dedicated computer for the public to use to complete the census and other computers that may be used to submit the census form online. Roswell schools and the census committee also will be distributing 3,000 promotional coloring books as part of the effort.

Roswell Public Library Director Enid Costley said the opportunity to work with other organizations will help ensure a more accurate count of the community.

About 41% of state residents live in hard-to-count areas — the largest proportion of any state in the nation, an Associated Press analysis of government data found.

The census determines the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal spending, and New Mexico officials estimate that a 1% undercount would cost the state more than $700 million in federal aid over a decade.

Prosecutor Seeks Information In New Mexico Cold Case Killing - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A district attorney in northern New Mexico says he is waiting on additional information in a nearly two-year-old  cold case killing. 

Fourth Judicial District Attorney Richard Flores told the Las Vegas Optic last week police in Las Vegas, New Mexico, have turned over evidence in the fatal shooting of Jeromy Vasquez. On Jan. 21, 2018, the 36-year-old was gunned down in the northern New Mexico city, but no charges were ever filed. 

Flores says his office was told more information in the case was coming.

An Optic story examining the case earlier this month posed questions about why a suspect wasn't investigated more thoroughly.

Sports Editor Apologizes For Tweeting 'Scalps' After Game  - Associated Press

A sports editor for a New Mexico newspaper has apologized after using "scalps" in a tweet to describe a high school basketball team defeating a team with Native American student-athletes. 

The world "scalp" has a racist history as white settlers regularly cut off pieces of Native Americans' heads after killing them. 

Hobbs News-Sun Sports Editor Jason Farmer said Friday his tweet was "very inappropriate and completely insensitive." 

Navajo Nation leaders criticized Farmer's social media post, saying such comments should not be normalized.

Agencies Seek End To Forest Rulings In New Mexico, Arizona - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Federal agencies have filed opinions for national forests in New Mexico and Arizona and have asked a judge to dismiss the court's previous ruling on timber management activities on Mexican spotted owl habitat land. 

The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that a U.S. district court in Arizona imposed a forest use injunction limiting timber activities such as tree-cutting, gathering fuel wood and controlled burns until effects on the threatened spotted owl species were determined. 

Officials say the opinions claim the conditions that necessitated the injunction are no longer present. An environmental group that sued federal agencies for failure to monitor the bird populations says they are opposed to the motion.

New Mexico Releases Methane Emissions Report - Associated Press

An advisory panel has released a technical report that covers how emissions are produced by oil and natural gas development and how New Mexico might be able to curb pollution from the industry. 

Rather than outline specific recommendations, the 300-page document is meant to be a resource for state regulators as they begin the process in 2020 of drafting formal rules aimed at reducing methane emissions. 

Despite industry claims that companies have been able to reduce emissions while still setting production records, environmentalists have been pushing for more regulations to target methane leaks and the practice of venting and flaring.

'Baby Shark' Creators Release Navajo Version Of Viral Video - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

Creators of the popular video "Baby Shark," whose song was played at the World Series in October, have released a version in Navajo. 

Pinkfong, a brand of the South Korea company SmartStudy, said Sunday the video is available online and was created following auditions from Navajo actors. 

SmartStudy worked with the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona, to create a new version of the widely popular tune about a family of sharks. Navajo Baby Shark, is the 20th language version of Baby Shark. 

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. The Navajo word for shark translates to "angry fish." 

Mom Takes Selfie Instead Of Recording Daughter's Proposal - KOB-TV, Associated Press

A future mother-in-law tasked with making a phone recording of her future son-in-law proposing to her daughter apparently missed the moment.

She ended up recording a selfie of her reaction to what she was seeing. 

KOB-TV reports Susan Griego somehow took a selfie video of herself watching Benjamin Steele Bacon proposed to her daughter. She did capture the moment Bacon popped the question to Amber Griego by the penguin exhibit at the Albuquerque Biopark.

The couple said the selfie video made the proposal more memorable.

"People have asked about it. I feel like that's kind of our relationship. Something wacky and random," Amber Griego said. "It's the perfect start to this."

Her mother admitted she's probably "not very good at photography."