Secretary Of State Wants Same-Day Voter Registration, Contract For Nuclear Waste Site Awarded

Nov 20, 2018

New Mexico Election Official Seeks Same-Day Registration – Associated Press

New Mexico's top election regulator says she will urge state lawmakers to allow same-day voter registration and to open major party primary elections to independent voters.

Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Tuesday that she will back legislation that helps sustain voter engagement after record-setting turnout in the midterm election.

The Legislature convenes in January with an expanded Democratic majority in the House of Representatives as control of the governor's office passes from Republican Susana Martinez to Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Toulouse Oliver also expressed support for expanding automated voter registration that is available at state motor vehicle offices to the Human Services Department that administers Medicaid and food stamps programs.

Election regulators are in the process of fully verifying Nov. 6 election results.

Investigation Dropped Against Former Santa Fe Mayor - Associated Press

A New Mexico district attorney says the statute of limitations prevents him from bringing charges against former Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales in connection with decades-old accusations of sexual assault. Gonzales has vehemently denied the accusations by a female relative.

Democratic District Attorney Marco Serna announced Tuesday that too much time lapsed before the complaint was brought to the attention of his office and state police for charges to be filed.

Serna also says a timeline could not be established to support a sexual-assault related charge.

Gonzales says the allegations previously were debunked during divorce and child-custody proceedings. Gonzales is a former state chairman of the Democratic Party.

Santa Fe voters made him the city's first openly gay mayor in 2014. He declined to run for a second term last year.

Agency Reports Hepatitis A Outbreak In Albuquerque AreaAssociated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in the Albuquerque area.

The department says that since the end of October it has confirmed four acute infections in adults and that the outbreak has primarily involved people who are homeless and injecting drugs.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

According to the department, hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person.

Navajo Man No Longer Faces Death Penalty In Officer KillingSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Federal prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty in a case of a Navajo man accused of killing a tribal police officer.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Officer Houston Largo was killed in March 2017 during a traffic stop north of Thoreau.

Authorities charged Kirby Cleveland, alleging he recounted shooting a police officer to his wife after the killing.

It is unclear why U.S. Attorney John Anderson pulled back from plans to pursue capital punishment in the case. A spokesman declined to comment on Monday beyond a one-page motion filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

A federal judge had set a three-day hearing on the motions for next week.

Prosecutors have moved to cancel and re-set the hearing.

The Navajo Nation opposes the death penalty.

Routed New Mexico GOP Works To Recover Amid Unclear Leaders - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The Republican Party of New Mexico suffered historic losses in statewide and legislative races this month and now must regroup without a clear leader.

Rising stars were defeated, infighting stalled fundraising and President Donald Trump's unpopularity in the nation's most Hispanic state reversed all the GOP's historic gains four years ago.

Republicans lost all statewide races, the governorship and all U.S. House contests. Democrats also strengthen their numbers in the New Mexico House.

Republican former state senator and blogger Rod Adair says the party needs to recruit young members and diverse candidates to appeal to independents.

State Rep. Kelly Fajardo, a Los Lunas Republican, says the party also should recruit more business-oriented women to run for office.

On Sunday, House Republicans elected Rep. James Townsend, a 63-year-old Artesia, New Mexico, retiree, as its minority leader.

Ventilation System Contract For Nuclear Waste Site Awarded - Associated Press

A company based in southern New Mexico has been awarded a contract to install a ventilation system at the federal government's only nuclear waste repository.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that the $135 million contract goes to Critical Applications Alliance of Carlsbad.

The department says the ventilation system is the largest construction project at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in nearly 30 years.

And the department says it's key to restoring operations there.

The construction project is expected to be complete in 2021.

Other work that's been done includes relocating transmission lines, grading, excavating a storm water runoff pond and putting up construction trailers.

The ventilation overhaul was prompted by a radiation release in 2014 that contaminated portions of the repository and forced its closure for nearly three years.

Republican Minority In New Mexico House Choose New Leader - Associated Press

New Mexico House Republicans, who lost multiple seats in this month's election, have chosen a new minority leader.

Rep. James Townsend of Artesia was elected Sunday to lead Republican lawmakers.

Republicans came away with 24 seats in the 70-member chamber after the Nov. 6 election. It's the party's smallest House caucus since 1996.

Townsend, a 63-year-old retired oil industry executive, replaces House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, who did not run for re-election.

Majority Democrats plan to nominate Brian Egolf of Santa Fe to continue as House speaker when the session begins in January.


College Sees Spike In Donations Since Announcing Tuition Cut - Associated Press

A private liberal arts college with campuses in New Mexico and Maryland has seen a spike in donations since announcing plans to decrease tuition.

St. John's College reported more than 1,000 small gifts in its annual fund, totaling more than $750,000 since September. The Capital Gazette reports the amount is nearly twice as much what the annual fund raised during the same period in 2017.

Officials say the influx of gifts have come in since the school launched a $300-million campaign to fund its new philanthropy-centered financial model Sept. 12. St. John's is one of a few U.S. colleges that pivoted to a philanthropy-centered financial model that relies more on donor dollars.

Officials say it's too soon to tell if the tuition decrease will produce more applicants.

Eastern New Mexico News Names Stevens As New Publisher - Associated Press

The Eastern New Mexico News has announced that Editor David Stevens has been named publisher.

The newspaper announced Sunday outgoing publisher Rob Langrell has accepted a job as publisher of The Sea Coast Echo in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, after three years as Eastern New Mexico News.

As publisher Langrell oversaw the merger of the Clovis News Journal and the Portales News-Tribune in 2016.

Kevin Wilson has been promoted from managing editor to editor and will oversee much of the newsroom duties.

Navajo Nation President Extends Crop Insurance Amid Drought - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Outgoing Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has extended the tribe's crop insurance amid ongoing extreme drought conditions.

The Gallup Independent reports Begaye signed the insurance contract earlier this month. He says it will protect the tribe's pastures, rangelands and forage acreage from losses due to scant rainfall.

Federal drought monitor maps show much of the reservation remains under exceptional or extreme drought — the two worst conditions.

The crop insurance is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance Program.