State Supreme Court Blocks Election Law Changes, State Gets $270K Grant To Protect 2 Historic Sites

Aug 28, 2019

New Mexico Supreme Court Blocks Changes To Election Law - Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has determined parts of a new election law that would have altered the terms of certain elected officials are unconstitutional.

The court ruling Monday blocks some of the election changes enacted by state lawmakers earlier this year from taking effect.

Lawmakers aimed to shift the election timing for some judges and county officials so not all the elections would fall in the same year.

State Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman Barry Massey said in a statement that shifting elections would have caused some judges to serve longer terms than allowed by the state constitution.

The eight district attorneys who filed one of three challenges to the law also claimed it would have caused officeholders to serve six-year terms or be ousted without an election.

GOP Oil Lobbyist To Seek Southern New Mexico US House Seat - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

A Republican oil lobbyist and member of one of New Mexico's wealthiest families has announced she is running for Congress in what is expected to be a closely watched U.S. House race.

Claire Chase told The Associated Press on Tuesday she will seek the GOP nomination for the state's southern congressional seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.

Torres Small defeated Republican Yvette Herrell in 2018 to flip a traditional Republican-leaning district.

The 36-year-old Chase says she intends to run a different race than Herrell, who faced criticism for refusing to debate Torres Small.

Herrell and Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys also are vying for the GOP nomination.

Chase, a Roswell, New Mexico, native, is married to Chance Chase. His grandfather is oil and natural gas tycoon, Mack Chase.

New Mexico Gets $270K Grant To Protect 2 Historic Sites - Associated Press

The National Park Service has awarded nearly $270,000 for historic preservation projects in New Mexico through the agency's Save America's Treasures program.

Four members of the state's U.S. Senate and House delegation announced Tuesday that the village of Santa Clara will use funds to make repairs in Fort Bayard located near Santa Clara, New Mexico. Fort Bayard is one of the first installations in the American Southwest to be garrisoned by Buffalo Soldiers.

Meanwhile, the Cornerstones Community Partnerships will use funds to restore Casita Desiderio y Pablita Ortega, part of Plaza del Cerro in Chimayo, New Mexico.

The grants are awarded to preserve and protect historic properties that represent the nation's cultural heritage.

Sandia National Laboratories Director To Retire In December - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The director of Albuquerque-based Sandia National Laboratories is retiring.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 67-year-old Steve Younger has been on the job for two years and that he told employees Monday that he will retire Dec. 31.

Sandia is a federal installation involved in the nation's nuclear weapons program and international nonproliferation efforts.

Younger said the National Technology and Engineering Solutions Board of Managers is searching for his successor.

Younger unveiled his retirement plans several months after Sandia announced it expects to hire 1,900 employees this year, including 1,100 to fill newly created positions at the lab.

Younger was formerly associate director at Los Alamos National Laboratory and he began working with nuclear weapons in 1982.

US Attorney: Feds Push For Progress On Tribal SafetyAssociated Press

The chairman of a Justice Department committee on tribal public safety policy says federal officials have undertaken a range of initiatives in the past year to review handling of cases of missing and murdered Native Americans.

Yet high victimization rates remain.

Trent Shores, who is the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and chairs the committee on Native American issues, says he is frustrated by persistent statistics of violence in tribal communities.

He adds that he and other federal prosecutors have made a significant push to address them amid a movement among Native Americans, especially women, to bring awareness to missing persons and homicide cases.

Shores and other U.S. attorneys began meeting Wednesday in New Mexico to review law enforcement issues facing tribes.

Record Oil Production Lifts New Mexico State Income, RisksAssociated Press

Government income continues to surge in a state with the highest rate of poverty in the western U.S. amid record-setting oil and natural gas production in New Mexico.

Economists from three state agencies and the Legislature said Wednesday that state general fund income for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2020, is expected to surpass current annual spending obligations by $907 million. That represents a nearly 13% surplus over current spending levels.

Most of the fiscal windfall is linked to steadily growing oil and natural gas production focused in the Permian Basin that straddles the state line between New Mexico and Texas.

The fiscal forecast holds major implications for public school budgets, tax incentives to the film industry and an array of state government services.

Xcel To Move Forward With $900M Wind Farm In New Mexico Associated Press

Xcel Energy says construction on a $900 million wind farm will begin later this year in eastern New Mexico.

The utility announced its plans to go forward with the Sagamore Wind Project on Wednesday, saying it will make up the final component of a major wind energy expansion that was first rolled out in 2017.

The 522-megawatt wind farm will be located near Portales.

It will be the largest single wind facility in New Mexico when completed in late 2020, capable of meeting the annual electricity needs of nearly 194,000 homes.

Xcel has completed its development phase and grid interconnection studies, paving the way for construction. The project will support about 400 construction jobs and 30 full-time jobs.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas were among those excited about the announcement.

New Mexico Poets Holding Fundraiser For El Paso VictimsAssociated Press

The poet laureate of New Mexico's largest city is helping organize a poetry reading fundraising for the victims of the El Paso mass shooting.

Michelle Otero will convene Thursday a group of New Mexico-based poets at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque to honor the victims. The event also will include a vigil.

Otero says the gathering is a way for writers to help with the healing process amid the anxiety felt among many Latinos.

Proceeds from the reading will go to the El Paso Shooting Victims' Fund.

Earlier month, police say a shooter, who is white, opened fire at an El Paso Walmart, killing 22.

Investigators believe the alleged gunman wrote an anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant online rant before the shooting.

Shelter's Registration Forms Give Portrait Of Asylum Seekers Associated Press

A detailed snapshot of the recent surge of asylum-seeking families on the Mexican border gives a sense of where they settled.

Houston was the most popular destination, reflecting its emergence as a primary gateway for Central Americans and other immigrants.

Nashville, Tennessee, was more than twice as popular as Chicago. Small cities in the Texas Panhandle, Alabama and Tennessee also drew large numbers.

The findings are compiled by Tom Wong of University of California, San Diego. They are based on more than 7,300 families who stayed at a shelter affiliated with the San Diego Rapid Response Network from October to June.

Wong says in a report published Wednesday that nearly one-third of families had issues with conditions in U.S. government custody, many related to food and water.

Deputies: New Mexico Man Attacked Another With A Frying PanAssociated Press

A southern New Mexico man is facing charges after authorities say he hit another man over the head with a frying pan.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Jeremy Fritz was arrested Sunday following the alleged attack that deputies say left one man seriously injured.

According to court documents, Dona Ana County Sheriff's deputies were called to a trailer park in Chaparral, New Mexico, in response to a 911 call about a fight.

Deputies found resident Harry Copperider standing outside of his trailer covered in blood from a four-inch (10-centimeter) wound to his head. Court documents say the deputy also found a bent, red frying pan in Cooperider's home.

The 26-year-old Fritz was arrested and charged with aggravated battery and obstructing arrest.

It was not known if he had an attorney.

Cibola National Forest Fire Continues To Grow In New MexicoAssociated Press

A wildfire in Cibola National Forest continues to grow as around 130 firefighters work to fight the inferno.

New Mexico and federal fire officials said late Tuesday the blaze has swelled to 8 square miles (20.7 square kilometers) and is around 28% contained.

Recent rains have created favorable conditions, allowing fire managers from the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands to manage the wildfire near an inactive stratovolcano in the San Mateo Mountains.

Officials say the fire was caused by lightning on August 4. It's located about 100 miles (161 kilometers) west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

State Tax Increase Likely For Top Earners Associated Press

A state economist says New Mexico is likely to increase state personal income tax rates on upper-income households based on trends in state revenue.

Chief Economist Dawn Iglesias of the Legislative Finance Committee said Wednesday that the state revenue growth is likely to stay within a range that would trigger a new 5.9% tax rate, up from 4.9%.

Legislation adopted this year triggers the rate increase if annual state general fund grow less than 5% or decrease.

The increase would apply to single filers earning over $210,000 and families earning over $315,000 that file jointly, starting Jan. 1, 2021.

New Mexico Signs Settlement On Living Conditions For InmatesAssociated Press

The governor of New Mexico says a preliminary agreement has been reached on living conditions for prison inmates that would resolve long-running litigation shaped by the aftermath of deadly 1980 riots at the state penitentiary.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday the preliminary settlement agreement in federal court aimed at ensuring that inmates are afforded constitutional protections to humane treatment.

The agreement would end the so-called Duran consent decree that established requirement for conditions within the state corrections system.

The Corrections Department has agreed to transfer hundreds of inmates among facilities to ensure adequate individual living space and to take new steps toward increasing staffing at prisons.

Lujan Grisham says the agreement gives the state flexibility in developing new policies on living conditions and relieves future litigation costs.