No REAL ID Letter Yet, Governor Says Live Within Means

Jan 8, 2016

Gov. Martinez Cautions About Keeping Spending In Check Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is cautioning New Mexico lawmakers that the state needs to live within its means due to an uncertain revenue picture.

She made the comments Thursday during a luncheon with business leaders in Albuquerque.

The state budget is the top priority for lawmakers when the 2016 legislative session convenes later this month. Martinez has already outlined a nearly $6.5 billion spending plan that targets education, public safety and job creation.

Martinez said the challenge facing the state is persistently low energy prices. She pointed to a 10 percent drop in oil prices in the last six weeks.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, low oil prices resulted in retail gasoline prices averaging $2.43 per gallon in 2015. That's nearly 30 percent less than in 2014.

New Mexico Leaders Still Have Not OK'd REAL ID Letter Russell Contreras, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Democrats remain at odds over how to get an extension on REAL ID requirements as a deadline looms.

Leaders of the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate met this week on crafting a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security but no agreement has been reached.

Federal officials want Martinez and lawmakers to promise they will pass a REAL ID compliant law during the upcoming session.

If New Mexico doesn't pass a REAL ID compliant law, holders of state driver's licenses could find they are unable to use them for some federal purposes.

Democratic leaders say they are ready to send a joint letter with Republicans that outlines general principles for a compromise.

GOP leaders said they writing their own version.

UPDATE: 2:55pm, Martinez: New Mexico still needs REAL ID fix after new rules – The Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said state lawmakers still need a REAL ID fix despite a Homeland Security announcement that new air travel rules won't start until 2018.

Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan said Friday the federal government confirmed in its announcement that state residents will need passports for air travel unless Democrats agree to revise state law.

Her office says a New Mexico law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver's licenses is partly responsible for New Mexico not being REAL ID compliant.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Friday that New Mexico passengers could continue using their current state IDs until Jan. 22, 2018.

After that, New Mexico residents would need a REAL ID compliance license or a passport to board a commercial flight.

Martinez Revives Right-To-Work Debate In New Mexico Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is reviving the right-to-work debate in New Mexico, saying she'll include the issue on the agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

She made the announcement Thursday during a panel discussion before a crowded room of business leaders, elected officials, higher education representatives and others who gathered for an Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The governor called it a no-brainer, saying adopting a right-to-work law would make the state more competitive when it comes to attracting businesses.

Business leaders argued many out-of-state companies don't even consider New Mexico as a possible place to do business because it lacks such a law.

Under the measure that failed to pass last year, nonunion employees would not have had to pay union fees as a condition of employment.

Bernalillo County Clerk To Run For Secretary Of State – Associated Press

Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the top elections official in New Mexico's most populous county, says she will run again for the Democratic Party's nomination for secretary of state.

This will mark Oliver's second run for the office.

She was defeated in 2014 by Republican incumbent Dianna Duran, who resigned from the position last year after being prosecuted for using campaign donations to fuel a gambling addiction.

Oliver has been vocal in recent months about the need to boost transparency within the state's campaign finance reporting system. She has said any reforms will require clear, consistent regulations that are enforceable.

Republican Brad Winter is currently serving as secretary of state after being appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez following Duran's resignation. He says he has no intention of running for the position.

Police Release Video Of Bill Richardson After Crash Associated Press

Newly released police video shows politician Bill Richardson feigning ignorance briefly before acknowledging to a Santa Fe Police officer that he rear ended another car at low speed and did not pull over.

The City of Santa Fe released the lapel-camera video on Thursday in response a request by The Associated Press.

In the video Richardson initially asks a police officer if he had hit someone while driving. The officer tells Richardson of the accident and points out damage to Richardson's bumper. Richardson then acknowledges that he lightly hit another car.

A witness identified Richardson's yellow Jeep after the fender bender Wednesday morning at 8:10 a.m. in downtown Santa Fe. That helped police track down the former New Mexico governor and U.S. diplomat nearby.

New Mexico Man Killed In Highway Stand-Off With State Police Associated Press

Authorities say state police have shot and killed a domestic violence suspect who fired at officers during a standoff outside a rural New Mexico town.

State police say the stand-off with the man began Wednesday evening after Lincoln County sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic violence call at a home near Capitan.

Authorities say the suspect fled west in a vehicle before barricading himself on U.S. 380 near Carrizozo. Sheriff's deputies contacted state police to assist in the stand-off, which lasted all night and shut down U.S. 380 between San Antonio and Carrizozo.

A portion of the highway remains closed until Thursday evening.

State police say the suspect, who they described as suicidal, fired at officers around 7:30 a.m.

His name has not been released.

Police: Suspect In Fatal Crash Had .15 Blood-Alcohol Level – Associated Press

Albuquerque police say the driver blamed for a November car crash that killed three people had a blood-alcohol level that was almost twice the legal limit.

Police say Jacob Jaramillo is facing three counts of vehicular homicide and other charges in Nov. 29 crash that killed three victims — all in their 20s. Two died at the scene of the crash near the intersection of Insterstate-25 and I-40 in Albuquerque. One person died at the hospital.

Officer Tanner Tixier said Thursday that the toxicology results for Jaramillo have been analyzed, and investigators found that his blood alcohol concentration at the time of the crash was .15.

According to police, Jamarillo ran a red light and hit the other vehicle, which had rolled onto its roof with the three victims inside.

Jaramillo sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Assistance Offered To Those Who Lost Livestock In Storm Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Ranchers and farmers in southeastern New Mexico may be able to recoup some of the costs of livestock lost in a recent winter storm.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that state Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Wittes and officials from the Farm Service Agency met with producers in Chaves County on Wednesday to discuss options to ease the burdens.

Ranchers and dairy producers will be able to apply for emergency relief through programs made available through the 2014 Farm Bill, with makes payments equal to 75 percent of the market value of the applicable livestock on the day before the date of death of the livestock as determined by the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Wittes says it's important that livestock owners document everything and contact their county Farm Services Agency as soon as possible.

New Mexico may put state pay raises on hold The Associated Press

New Mexico government pay raises may be put on hold because of low energy prices and weak state revenues from the oil and natural gas sector.

A legislative budget proposal released Friday would increase state spending by $232 million for the coming fiscal year.

The recommendation from the Legislative Finance Committee came with a warning that it may need to withhold $78 million in new spending intended for pay raises if energy prices remain low.

The committee's budget proposal forms the foundation for spending decisions when lawmakers convene for a 30-day session on Jan. 19.

The $6.47 billion budget plan focuses new spending on Medicaid, education, early childhood programs, public health, workforce development, economic growth and public safety.

Silverton aims to have Superfund answers by end of January The Associated Press

Silverton officials say they'll try to get enough information by the end of January to decide whether to ask for a federally funded Superfund cleanup of leaking mines north of town.

The Durango Herald reported Friday that would be the deadline to get their request to the Environmental Protection Agency in time for the next meeting to consider Superfund proposals. The EPA reviews the proposals twice yearly.

Silverton officials met Wednesday with EPA and state health department representatives to discuss what the program would mean to the tourist-dependent town in southwestern Colorado.

Discussions were prompted by the August spill of 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater from the Gold King Mine north of Silverton. An EPA-led crew accidentally triggered the leak, tainting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Ex-records keeper files lawsuit against Albuquerque policeThe Associated Press

A former records keeper has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department, saying top officials demanded he unlawfully deny public records requests related to high-profile cases, including some stemming from officer-involved shootings.

Reynaldo Chavez's lawsuit says he was fired from his job as APD records custodian last year after he objected to officials' orders to delay or withhold responses to records requests from the media and others without justification.

Chavez says in the lawsuit filed Monday that he was ordered to deny or stall the release of records related to the James Boyd shooting and other cases.

The lawsuit names Chief Gorden Eden, Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman, former assistant city attorney Kathryn Levy and others.

A police spokeswoman and city attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

New Mexico faces vaccine shortage due to payment problems The Associated Press

Pediatricians in New Mexico are turning away patients looking for vaccines because they have run out of supplies provided through the state Department of Health and paid for by private insurance companies.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that legislation last year required private insurers to cover the cost of vaccines. When DOH sent out a $10 million bill, only about $7.2 million in payments came back.

Funding for children covered through federal programs such as Medicaid comes from the federal government.

Previously DOH purchased vaccines for all New Mexico children and distributed them at no cost to medical providers.

DOH spokesman Kenny Vigil says the agency is doing everything it can to make sure providers have what they need to immunize children.

Conservation officials: New Mexico's snowpack above average The Associated Press

Conservation officials say the snowpack in New Mexico's mountains is rebounding from last year's dismal showing.

The New Mexican reports that the Natural Resources Conservation Service released an initial water supply forecast Thursday that shows every one of the state's river basins with an above-average snowpack.

December's snowfall pushed precipitation totals for the month to 137 percent of the 30-year average.

The abundant snow is good news for New Mexico's ski industry, farmers and municipal water managers.

Meteorologists say the strong El Nino weather pattern is responsible for increased moisture in the Southwest.

The Natural resources Conservation Service will release a new water supply forecast each month until May. It will use the latest snow survey data to predict how much water will be available through summer.