Tornado Destroys 10 Homes In Southeast New Mexico, Oil Production Sets Record In 2018

Mar 13, 2019

Tornado Destroy 10 Homes In New Mexico, 5 People InjuredRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Authorities say a tornado has destroyed 10 homes in a small southeastern New Mexico community and five people suffered non-life threatening injuries.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Jones said the tornado touched down Tuesday in Dexter for about five minutes but that its strength hasn't been determined. The agency is sending a team to survey damage.

Chaves County Mike Herrington in a statement says cleanup won't start Wednesday because heavy winds of up to 70 mph are blowing debris around.

He told the Roswell Daily Record that five people were taken to hospitals with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.

The newspaper says roofs were ripped off buildings.

The American Red Cross sent a team to assist people who were displaced from their homes.

New Mexico Police Say Wind Derailed Train's TailAssociated Press

Authorities blamed high winds for a train derailment in eastern New Mexico where approximately 25 freight cars went off a trestle over a mostly dry river bed.

The New Mexico State Police said no injuries resulted from the wreck Wednesday near Logan, about 184 miles east of Albuquerque.

State Police photos posted on Twitter showed shipping containers strewn across the river bed, with a jumbled pile of containers on the slope above one bank of the Canadian River.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said the derailed cars were the tail end of a mixed-freight train consisting of two locomotives and 73 rail cars.

A high wind warning issued earlier by the National Weather Service said the storm moving through the area would produce "one of the strongest wind events in years for West Texas and southeast New Mexico."

Why Massive Storm Hitting US Is A 'Bomb Cyclone'Associated Press

Meteorologists say the storm raging across the West and Midwest was caused by a sudden and severe drop in air pressure called a "bomb cyclone" or "bombogenesis."

Low air pressure is how meteorologists measure the strength of a storm, and this is the strongest in Colorado since at least 1950.

Pressure readings are similar to what's seen in Category 2 hurricanes.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said it's very rare.

Maue says forecasters have been warning about the storm for days, but some people underestimated it and wound up stranded.

Medical Unit To Help Migrants In New MexicoAssociated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health has sent a mobile medical unit to the border community of Las Cruces to help with health assessments for migrants being temporarily housed at shelters around the city.

Officials say the unit is outfitted with equipment to check vitals and assess whether any of the migrants are dehydrated or need additional care.

Deputy Health Secretary Abinash Achrekar tells The Associated Press that he's hopeful the roving unit will provide another option for care. He's also working to address liability issues for providers who are interested in volunteering.

Asylum-seeking migrants are being housed at faith-based shelters in the Las Cruces area and now at hotels in Albuquerque before being sent around the country to stay with family or sponsors as they await formal hearings.

Doctors in the Las Cruces area say they have been treating migrants since 2014 but that the volume of people coming into the community has increased significantly in the last several weeks.

Albuquerque Anticipating 'Hundreds' Of Migrant Visitors - By Susan Montoya Bryan And Russell Contreras Associated Press

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller says "hundreds" of migrants from Central America and Brazil are expected to arrive in the city in the coming weeks and volunteers are preparing for visitors.

And Keller said Wednesday if the city runs out of temporary housing, he'll open up his own home.

Keller told reporters federal immigration officials have notified New Mexico's largest city that migrants seeking asylum will be arriving soon but no dates have been set. Recently, Albuquerque played host to around 300 asylum seekers who stayed in hotels before continuing their journeys.

But Keller says the city is seeking medical volunteers and faith-based groups are ready to provide temporary housing when needed.

Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester says the migrant crisis was a "spiritual reality" that has come to Albuquerque.

New Mexico Senate Endorses Spending BoostAssociated Press

The state Senate has approved a $700 million increase in annual general fund spending devoted mostly to public education.

The Senate, led by Democrats, voted 39-2 Wednesday on the $7 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year that starts July 1. The bill now returns to the House to consider scores of Senate amendments.

The budget bill is a crucial component of efforts to address a court order to increase resources for a troubled public education system. A district court judge says public schools across the state fail to provide an adequate education for low-income and minority students.

New Mexico is appropriating money linked to a financial windfall from record-breaking oil production in the Permian Basin. Senate Finance Committee John Arthur Smith urged on the oil industry with the cry of "drill baby drill."

Legislature Negotiates State Budget Boost, Stimulus PackageAssociated Press

New Mexico legislators are coming close to an annual budget agreement that increases spending on education by nearly a half-billion dollars and channels a windfall in tax income toward infrastructure and economic stimulus.

The state Senate was poised to vote Wednesday on a general fund budget bill that increases spending by just over $700 million or 11 percent to $7 billion. Spending on public education would increase by $448 million to $3.2 billion as the state grapples with a court order to improve schooling for poor, minority students.

Disagreements have emerged between the House and Senate about the distribution of teacher pay raises. A separate Senate bill would provide $858 million in surplus general funds on state and local infrastructure projects, from roads to rooftop solar and high-speed internet.

New Mexico Water Boss Says 'We Need To Protect Our Water' Associated Press

New Mexico's top water official says he will be working closely with the state attorney general's office as the legal fight over management of the Rio Grande simmers with Texas and the U.S. government.

State Engineer John D'Antonio appeared Wednesday for a confirmation hearing before a key Senate committee, winning praise from a bipartisan group of lawmakers for the work he has done over a decades-long career in water.

The full Senate later confirmed his appointment with a unanimous vote.

D'Antonio previously served as state engineer from 2003 until 2011 when he left to take a post with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He told lawmakers the fight over the Rio Grande is complicated but that New Mexico has strong technical arguments and needs to be aggressive in making its claims.

Appeals Court Mulls Native American Adoption LawAssociated Press

Opponents of a 1978 law governing Native American adoptions have told a federal appeals court in New Orleans that the law is an unconstitutional threat to the well-being of children and families.

The Indian Child Welfare Act gives preference to Native American families in adoptions involving Native American Children. Opponents told the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday the law is a race-based intrusion on individual states' adoption procedures. They also fear that a decision upholding the law could endanger adoptions already completed.

Indian tribes say the law is needed to preserve Native American families and culture.

A federal district judge in Texas struck down the law last year. The tribes want a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit to overrule that judge. It's unclear when the panel will rule.

Santa Fe High Demons Take QuarterfinalSanta Fe New Mexican

The fifth-seeded Santa Fe High Demons basketball team emerged victorious Wednesday in the state quarterfinal, beating the Albuquerque Eldorado in a 64-56 win at The Pit in Albuquerque.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported the team forced 20 turnovers, taking an early lead that it held throughout the game. The Demons will play the winner of the Hobbs-Albuquerque Volcano Vista quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon.

Antonio Lovato led the scoring with 18 points, despite a lower leg injury.

New Mexico Tax Increase Package Challenged By Democrat - Associated Press

A House-approved proposal to raise New Mexico's personal income tax rates is being challenged by a Democratic senator.

Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants on Tuesday sought amendments that eliminate income tax increases from a bill sponsored by Democrats that mostly targeted upper-income residents. Sanchez says the state's budget surplus makes it hard to rationalize a major tax hike.

The bill from Democratic Reps. Javier Martinez and Jim Trujillo currently would increase annual state income tax collections by an estimated $130 million. It would also provide a tax credit for families with children, impose higher vehicle-sales taxes and add new taxes on online sales, e-cigarettes and nonprofit hospitals.

The bill's sponsors fear state income from oil could falter.

The amendments from Sanchez also could shrink the proposed tax increases on tobacco products and cars.

New Mexico Oil Production Marks Record In 2018 - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico has set a record, producing nearly 246 million barrels of oil last year.

The latest statistics from the state Oil Conservation Division show that's up more than 40 percent from the previous year and almost three times the 86 million barrels produced in 2012.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the increase is tied to hydraulic fracturing and other technological advancements that have opened up previously untapped shale oil reserves in the Permian Basin, which stretches across parts of New Mexico and West Texas.

The statistics also show that natural gas production in New Mexico increased by 13 percent last year, marking the state's highest output since 2008.

Industry officials and some state lawmakers say forecasts point to production levels growing even more by the end of 2019.

Bill To Ban Coyote Killing Contests Heads To Governor - Associated Press

The New Mexico Legislature is sending a bill to the governor that would ban contests to see who can shoot and kill the most coyotes.

The House voted 37-30 on Tuesday to endorse the bill from Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces and Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque.

Ranchers and outfitters from across the state have argued over the years that the contests are a tool for managing packs of coyotes that threaten livestock. Opponents say the practice is barbaric and ineffective. This year's bill would make it a misdemeanor crime to organize a contest. Participation would be a petty misdemeanor.

Coyote killing contests were banned on state trust land earlier this year by State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard.

Landmark Energy Bill Heads To New Mexico Governor's Desk - Associated Press

Landmark legislation mandating that New Mexico get all of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045 has cleared its last legislative hurdle and is headed to the governor's desk.

The measure passed the House on a 43-22 vote following a lengthy debate Tuesday.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has advocated for the legislation and is expected to sign it.

The measure sets aggressive quotas for renewable energy production and would establish funds to ease the economic pains of shuttering a coal-fired power plant in the northwest corner of the state.

Republican Rep. James Strickler of Farmington warned that tens of millions of dollars in annual wages and benefits will be lost once the San Juan Generating Station and the adjacent mine are closed in 2022. He said Native Americans make up two-fifths of the workforce.

New Mexico Bill To Keep Guns From Domestic Abusers Advances - Associated Press

A New Mexico measure to keep people from possessing a firearm if they are under permanent protective orders for domestic violence is headed to the House floor.

The Judiciary Committee approved the measure Tuesday evening. It's part of a slate of gun-control bills backed by Democrats.

The first of the measures was signed by the governor Friday. It will expand mandatory background checks to include firearms sales between private individuals.

A vast majority of sheriffs have expressed opposition to the bills. But on Tuesday they said they would support the domestic violence-related measure with amendments, including allowances for a weapon to be placed with a relative or other acquaintance rather than law enforcement.

Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a Democrat and bill sponsor, said she was not comfortable with the proposal.

New Mexico Senate Endorses More Subsidies To Film Industry - Associated Press

The state Senate has endorsed a bill that would more than double New Mexico's annual payout to the film industry through tax rebates and address a backlog in payments.

By a 32-8 vote on Tuesday, the Senate endorsed a bill that would increase the annual rebate cap from $50 million to $110 million. Other major provisions include authorized rebate payments of between $195 million and $225 million by July 2020 to address an accumulation of unpaid incentives.

The tax incentives aim to attract filmmakers to New Mexico and provide a 25 percent rebate to film productions for most direct expenditures in the state, with provisions for larger rebates with long-term filming commitments.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on promises to lift the $50 million annual cap on the film incentives.

Albuquerque Measure Aims For More Consultation With Tribes - Associated Press

Albuquerque officials say a new ordinance will require a city board to consult with tribes on any matters that might affect them.

Mayor Tim Keller signed the measure on Tuesday following its approval by the City Council. He says the city's relationships with tribes can impact public safety, jobs and homelessness.

Under the measure, the city will be required to expand its Commission on American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs from five members to nine.

Tribal governments from communities that surround or are near the Albuquerque metropolitan area will choose their representatives, rather than the City Council or mayor.

Officials say the measure recognizes tribal sovereignty, especially among tribes and pueblos near the city. Those tribal governments include the pueblos of Sandia, Isleta, Santa Ana and Laguna, and the Navajo Nation's To'hajiilee Chapter.

New Mexico May Join Popular Vote Compact - Associated Press

The state Senate has voted for New Mexico to join a growing list of states pushing to elect the president of the United States according to the national popular vote.

The Senate voted 25-16 Tuesday to approve the bill from Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque that would enroll New Mexico in an interstate compact that requires it cast electoral votes for the national popular vote winner, and not necessarily the winner in New Mexico.

The compact would only go into effect when its membership represents at least 270 electoral votes.

Eleven Democratic-leaning states and the District of Columbia already have entered the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Democrat-controlled Colorado will soon join the list, giving the compact 181 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to elect the president.

Obamacare-Protections Bill Revived In New Mexico - Associated Press

A Senate committee has revived a bill designed to ensure access to medical insurance for people with pre-existing conditions after voting the proposal down.

In a rare maneuver, Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants on Tuesday reversed his early vote on the measure that now moves to the Senate floor. Other Democrats had expressed dismay when the bill was voted down in committee.

The bill from House Democrats including Rep. Liz Thomson of Albuquerque would enshrine into state law provisions of former President Barack Obama's health care law that protect medical patients with pre-existing conditions.

Advocates for the legislation say provisions of the Affordable Care Act are at risk from a lawsuit by Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration's push for cheaper, skimpier health plans.