Snow, Wind, For New Mexico, Navajo Council Votes To Create Medical Examiner's Department

Dec 22, 2018

Snow, Wind, Cold Temperatures On Tap For New Mexico – Associated Press

New Mexico is in line for snow, wind and much colder temperatures over the Christmas holiday.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say mild and dry weather will be coming to end next week as a potential winter storm takes aim on the state. They say, though, that it's still too early to detail where and when the most significant snowfall will occur.

The stormy weather is expected to hit between late Christmas Day and Wednesday.

Forecasters are warning those who have travel plans in the Southwest U.S. and West Texas to keep an eye on the weather.

Navajo Council Votes To Create Medical Examiner's Department – Associated Press

Legislation approved by the Navajo Nation Council would create a medical examiner's department within the tribe's Division of Public Safety.

The resolution approved unanimously by the council Thursday on the final day of a special session is subject to approval by tribal President Russell Begaye.

Under the legislation, the new department would investigate all deaths occurring under suspicious circumstances, including violent and unexplained deaths, and be authorized to make determinations and issue certificates of death.

The department also would be authorized to respond to the scene of a death and to prescribe procedures for taking possession of a dead body following the death that is subject to investigation.

According to the legislation, investigations would have to be conducted in a manner that respects the tribe's culture, traditions and beliefs.

New Mexico Jobless Rate Holds Steady At 4.6 Percent – Associated Press

New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 4.6 percent in November, unchanged from the previous month but an improvement from 6 percent a year ago.

State labor officials announced the numbers Friday, saying the private sector saw the largest gains in a 12-month period with 17,200 jobs, or an increase of 2.6 percent.

Nationally, the jobless rate in November was 3.7 percent, unchanged from October and down from 4.1 percent in November 2017.

In New Mexico, jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector increased by 7,000, or 7.3 percent. Mining and construction employment grew by 3,000 jobs, while professional and business services employment was up 2,500 jobs, or 2.4 percent, over the year.

Farmington Plans To Welcome Home New Winner Of "The Voice" – Associated Press

A celebration in Farmington is set for Saturday to welcome the winner of NBC's "The Voice" back to her hometown.

The Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau says fans are encouraged to watch a procession for Cheval Shepherd set for 12:30 p.m. after she flies into town.

The procession will be followed by an event at the Farmington High School Arena, where Shepherd is expected to arrive at 2 p.m.

Shepherd, who is 16, was declared the winner of "The Voice" on Tuesday after weeks of competition. Singer Kelly Clarkson was her coach.

Shepherd is a Farmington High School junior.

She also tells the Farmington Daily Times that she plans to schedule a concert for January in her hometown.

New Asylum Policy Could Invite More Illegal Border Crossings – Associated Press

The Trump administration's decision to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts was made with crucial details still unknown. That creates uncertainty along the border and possibly an incentive for people to cross illegally before the change take effect.

The change amounts to a major shift in immigration policy. It could force thousands of asylum seekers to stay in Mexico in dangerous border cities as they navigate the American immigration court system.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says the next step is more legal paperwork with Mexico.

The U.S. characterized the policy as a unilateral move. But Mexico almost simultaneously said it would grant foreigners permission to stay in the country while their asylum claims are considered and that they could seek work authorization.

Officials Again Delay New Mexico Racino Decision – Associated Press

For the second time in a month, New Mexico regulators have delayed a decision on awarding the state's sixth and final license for a horse racetrack and casino.

The Racing Commission met behind closed doors for about three hours Friday before announcing it would be putting off a decision on the advice of the state attorney general's office.

At issue is a petition filed in district court by one of the companies vying for the license. The company is seeking a temporary injunction, saying the commission hasn't done enough to study the issue.

Chairman Ray Willis says the commission is frustrated that it can't move forward. He says the panel still is committed to awarding the license once it gets approval to act from the attorney general's office or once a judge rules on the court petition.

Enrollment Plunges In New Mexico's Subsidize Health Exchange – Associated Press

Enrollment in New Mexico's subsidized health exchange has fallen by more than 10 percent since a year ago even as average premium prices have stabilized.

Office of the Superintendent of Insurance spokeswoman Heather Widler on Thursday said that 45,232 people signing up or re-enrolled in the state's federally subsidized marketplace for health insurance during the 45-day period enrollment period ending Dec. 15. Last year, 50,539 people enrolled.

Widler declined to comment on possible reasons for the decline in enrollment through the state's health exchange portal, known as beWellnm. Average prices for purchasing health insurance on the exchange declined slightly for 2019 from the current year.

Numbers released this week by the federal government show just a slight dip in nationwide enrolled in Affordable Care Act coverage next year through HealthCare.gov.

This story has been revised to correct the spelling of spokeswoman Widler's first name to Heather.

New Mexico Officials Say Pipeline Spill Contained – Associated Press

State officials say they have contained a pipeline spill that resulted in 252,000 gallons (954,000 liters) of gasoline being released into an idle irrigation ditch.

The New Mexico Environment Department said Friday that the Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline spill happened last week near the community of Anthony at the New Mexico-Texas state line.

Officials are still investigating what caused the release. About 168,000 gallons (636,000 liters) of gas had been recovered as of Wednesday.

The pipeline is a foot (30 centimeters) in diameter and operated by Kinder Morgan. It extends to Tucson, Arizona.

Officials say the Rio Grande is about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the spill site but that it was not affected.