Wednesday News Roundup: New Lawsuit Alleges Unreasonable Search In NM

Jan 29, 2014

New Lawsuit Alleges Unreasonable Search In NM The Associated Press

Another lawsuit has been filed over an unreasonable search by a New Mexico law enforcement agency along the border.

In the latest filing, a New Mexico woman says in a federal lawsuit that police illegally took her car in the town of Lordsburg, in Hidalgo County. She says when she tried to retrieve the vehicle four days later, she was forced to strip naked and a female officer visually inspected her body cavities.

Hidalgo County officials and Lordsburg police declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The suit comes after Hidalgo County and the city of Deming recently agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man taken to two hospitals and subjected to anal probes over suspicion of hiding drugs.

A suit also is pending against federal agents over a similar search of a New Mexico woman crossing from Mexico through El Paso, Texas.


Panel OKs School Budget Proposal, 3% Pay Raises -  The Associated Press

A House committee has approved a proposal to increase spending on public schools by nearly $149 million next year, including at least 3 percent salary increases for all educational employees.

The budget proposal endorsed by the House Education Committee on Wednesday sets the stage for a likely clash with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez over school financing.

Besides a 3 percent pay hike for all workers, the panel recommended raising minimum salaries for all teachers by $2,000. The governor had proposed a $3,000 increase in salaries only for entry-level teachers.

The committee split along party lines in approving its $2.7 billion education budget proposal, which provides for a 5.8 percent spending increase. The governor proposed a 3.9 percent budget increase for schools but no across-the-board salary increase for educational employees.


Lawmakers Hear About Effort To Update Water Plans - The Associated Press

New Mexico's top water official says updating the state and regional water plans is critical.

State Engineer Scott Verhines testified Tuesday before the Senate Conservation Committee. He alluded to the persistent drought, noting that the water plans will help officials set priorities for addressing needs around the state.

As chairman of the Water Trust Board, Verhines says the panel this year received about 120 applications totaling more than $140 million in requests for water project funding. The board has only $35 million available.

Gov. Susana Martinez also wants to spend 60 percent of capital outlay funds on water infrastructure this year, but no specific projects have been identified.

Verhines says the plan is to have all 16 regional water plans and the state plan completed within the next two years.

Immigrants To Lobby For NM Driver's License Law - The Associated Press 

Immigrants and their supporters are planning to lobby lawmakers at the Capitol against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's proposal to stop New Mexico from issuing drivers licenses to immigrants who are living in the country illegally.

Members of the immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido are to deliver petitions to lawmakers and the governor on Wednesday.

The legislation has failed in the Democratic-controlled Legislature since Martinez took office in 2011, but the governor wants lawmakers to consider the measure again this year.

A growing number of other states, including Illinois, Nevada, California and Colorado, have enacted laws to grant immigrants the privilege to drive.

NM Senate Panel OKs Texting Ban For Drivers - The Associated Press

A proposal to ban texting while driving has cleared an initial hurdle in the Legislature.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed the proposal on Tuesday to prohibit drivers from sending or reading a text message and email or making an Internet search from a cell phone or other handheld communications device. There would be a $25 fine for a first violation and $50 for subsequent violations.

Democratic Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe said texting distracts a driver and increases the chances of a traffic accident.

Forty-one other states ban texting by all drivers

New Mexico prohibits texting for teenage drivers with a learner's or provisional license. But texting bans for all drivers have failed in the Legislature since 2009.

The bill goes to another committee for consideration.

Bill Would Protect Benefits Of Injured Officers - The Associated Press 

The retirement benefits of officers and firefighters injured in the line of duty would be protected under a bill pending in the New Mexico Legislature.

The bill filed Tuesday by Rep. Paul Pacheco aims to keep New Mexico police, fire and corrections officers from losing part of their retirement when they collect worker's compensation benefits.

Injured public safety officers go into what's called "dead time" and no longer accrue time toward retirement when they're off work recovering

The Line of Duty Injury Act allows and encourages agencies around the state to pay enough administrative time to cover what the injured employees lose toward retirement.

NM Jobless Rate At 6.4 Percent, Unchanged In December - The Associated Press 

New Mexico's unemployment rate remained unchanged last month at 6.4 percent.

The state Workforce Solutions Department said Tuesday the unemployment rate in December was down from 6.6 percent a year ago.

The state agency says jobs have grown by 0.4 percent, a gain of 3,000 over the year.

The largest employment gains were reported in the financial activities industry, which added 3,100 jobs since December 2012.

Employment gains in retail trade rose to 1,900 jobs, its highest over-the-year increase since 2008.

The leisure and hospitality industry added 1,500 jobs and the mining industry added 1,200 jobs, its largest gain since November 2012.

Professional and business services reported a gain of 500 jobs.

Manufacturing declined by 1,300 jobs and government employment had a net loss of 2,800 jobs since last year.

Lawsuit: NM Ex-Death Row Inmate Beaten In Prison - The Associated Press

A former death row inmate convicted of murder and rape has filed a federal lawsuit after he says he was severely beaten in a New Mexico prison.

An attorney for Michael Guzman filed the lawsuit against the Department of Corrections earlier this month alleging that prison officials failed to protect the 48-year-old by placing him with "known enemies."

According to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, prison officials violated Guzman's civil rights shortly following a 2011 transfer to the Northeast Correction Facility in Clayton, N.M.

The lawsuit says Guzman spent a month in a hospital after the beating.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and cost for medical bills.

Patrick Allen, an attorney representing the state Department of Corrections, denied the allegations in court documents.

Man Arrested For Allegedly Pulling Gun On NM Teen - The Associated Press

Authorities say a 76-year-old man is in custody for allegedly threatening a Santa Fe Prep student with a gun.

A 17-year-old student told police he was driving to school erratically about 8 a.m. Tuesday when a man followed him to campus while yelling obscenities at him.

The teen says the man demanded his driver's license and registration once they were stopped on school grounds.

When the boy refused to hand the items over, he says Allan Wheeler allegedly pulled out a small handgun and pointed it at the teen's stomach and again demanded the documents.

A school maintenance worker intervened and police were called.

Police say Wheeler is being held on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse and unlawfully carrying a firearm on school grounds.