KUNM

Update

State Report: More Tourists Visiting New Mexico - Associated Press

Tourism officials in New Mexico say more people are visiting the state.

A report from the state's Tourism Department found that New Mexico saw 2.6 percent more overnight and day visitors in 2012 than in 2011.

There were 32 million overnight and day visitors in 2012. The previous high was in 2008, with 31.4 million visits.

Tourists spent an estimated $5.9 billion in New Mexico last year. In 2011, tourists spent just over $5.5 billion in the state.

Albuquerque Tech Center Gets Fed Grant - Associated Press

The economic development arm of the University of New Mexico has received a $1.5 million federal grant for creating a new high-tech business district in downtown Albuqueruque.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich Wednesday announced the Commerce Department funding for the Innovate ABQ initiative.

The grant brings funding for the project to $6.5 million, or close to the appraised value for the seven-acre First Baptist Church site that the project hopes to purchase.

NM's Infant Mortality Rate On The Rise - Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are concerned about an increase in the state's infant mortality rate.

The state Department of Health says New Mexico's rate has exceeded the national rate for the first time since 1994. The latest figures show an increase from 5.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 to 6.9 in 2012.

Health Secretary Retta Ward says the department will monitor the numbers closely to see if the increase signals a trend.

NM Governor To Seek Money For Water Emergencies - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez will ask the Legislature to create an emergency fund to help communities with critical drinking water supply problems.

The governor proposed Monday that lawmakers allocate $200,000 to allow the administration to immediately respond when local governments face emergencies and potentially are running out of water.

Martinez also wants to be able to replenish the fund automatically in $200,000 installments by issuing an executive order.

Judge Says State Can Keep Audit Secret - Associated Press

A state district judge in Las Cruces has ruled the state can keep secret the audit that prompted it to freeze payments to substance abuse and mental health providers.

State District Judge Douglas Driggers rejected a request by the Las Cruces Sun-News and New Mexico In Depth to order the Human Services Department to release the audit under state open records laws.

NM Teachers Object To Evaluation System - Associated Press

Unions representing teachers and other educational employees organized protests Wednesday against a teacher evaluation system by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration that heavily bases ratings on student performance on standardized tests.

National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers encouraged teachers to wear black and participate in rallies across the state.

Albuquerque Votes On Late-Term Abortion Ban - Associated Press

Voters in New Mexico's largest city will decide Tuesday whether to ban late-term abortions.

The municipal referendum is believed to be the first of its kind in the country and is being watched as a possible new front for activism in the abortion wars that have typically been waged at the federal and state levels.

The outcome is anyone's guess following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising.

State: 15 NM Teachers Get Stipends For Transfers - Associated Press and The Las Cruces Sun News

New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera says the state is "off to a good start" with 15 teachers each approved to receive a $5,000 stipend for transferring from a top-graded school to a low-graded one.

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, the teachers worked for the Las Cruces, Taos, Las Vegas City, Espanola, Estancia and Gallup school districts.

Albuquerque Police Officer Shoots DWI Suspect - Associated Press and KOAT-TV

Albuquerque's police chief says one of his officers has shot a drunken-driving suspect during a traffic stop.

Chief Allen Banks says the shooting happened early Friday after an officer pulled over a car. Banks tells KOAT-TV that after the car stopped the driver inside showed a gun and the officer shot the person.

The unidentified suspect is hospitalized in critical but stable condition. The officer was not hurt.

NM Ed Chief Vows To Push Law On 3rd-Grade Reading - Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico's top education official says Gov. Susana Martinez won't stop pushing for legislation to hold back third-graders who can't read at grade level.

Public Education chief Hanna Skandera vowed that she and Martinez will be "back in full force" to push the proposal in 2014. The Legislature has rejected the plan for the past two years.

Tribal Leaders Gather For White House Conference - Associated Press

American Indian leaders are gathered in Washington, D.C., to talk directly with officials in President Barack Obama's administration about their needs.

The White House Tribal Leaders Conference is scheduled for Wednesday. Obama is set to deliver remarks to representatives invited from 566 tribes across the country at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

New Mexico Woman Who Sued To Marry Partner Dies - Associated Press

A New Mexico woman who won an emergency court order allowing her to marry her longtime partner this summer in one of a cascade of same-sex weddings in the state has died.

NM County's Investments Probed By State Officials - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

The State Securities Division has launched an inquiry into Bernalillo County's investment practices.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the agency is trying to determine if a turnover of the county's $300 million investment portfolio was the result of a misguided effort in pursuit of higher interest rates or something more sinister.

Santa Fe Mayor Wants Proper Disposal Of Nuke Waste - Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss is urging the Los Alamos National Laboratory to analyze and properly dispose of its nuclear waste.

He's also calling on the New Mexico Environment Department to disallow the creation of a permanent nuclear waste dump.

Coss is chairman of the regional coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities.

Los Alamos' proposed remedial plan allegedly leaves nuclear waste buried in pits and trenches at the laboratory's Area G.

Martinez Rips School Official For Twitter Comments  - Associated Press and KOAT - TV

Gov. Susana Martinez is calling out Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks over his social media remarks about Martinez's education secretary, and Brooks is apologizing.

Brooks had suggested in Twitter comments to a KOAT-TV reporter Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Moriarty that Skandera "head for the livestock truck."

KOAT  reports that Winston then tweeted "Moo, moo, oink, oink!!"

Wildlife Poaching Appears To Be On The Rise In NM - Associated Press

Wildlife poaching appears to be on the rise in New Mexico.

Game and Fish officials say they're investigating 22 cases across the state involving elk, deer and antelope carcasses found headless and left to rot.

Department officers are running road blocks across the state to check for illegal hunting activity and to gather data about harvest success.

Federal Appeals Court Halts Horse Slaughter - Associated Press

A federal appeals court has temporary halted plans to resume domestic horse slaughter.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday issued a temporary injunction barring the Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants.

Military Wants To Keep Using Forest For Training - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

Kirtland Air Force Base's request to renew a decades-old agreement that allows military training in portions of a national forest in central New Mexico is stirring controversy.

Kirtland has had an agreement since 1977 to use parts of the Cibola National Forest for training. That training includes establishment of helicopter landing zones, high-altitude training for aircraft and remote deployment of ground teams.

NM Pension System Finances Improve Under New Law - Associated Press

A retirement system for New Mexico's state and local government workers reports its long-term financial outlook has improved in large part because of a recently enacted pension overhaul.

The Public Employees Retirement Association said Thursday the projected cost of future pension benefits was $4.6 billion more than the retirement fund's assets in the 2013 fiscal year. That's down from an unfunded liability of $6.2 billion the previous year.

Man Who Shot Police In NM Had 'Cop Killer' Tattoo - Associated Press

Police say a man who wounded Albuquerque law enforcement officers during a high-speed chase through the city had a tattoo labeled "cop killer."

Albuquerque police on Sunday identified the gunman as 35-year-old Christopher Chase, and Albuquerque television station KOAT reports that he was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle.

Three Albuquerque police officers and a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy were wounded Saturday.

Reports Possible Soon On Some Mental Health Fraud - Associated Press

Attorney General Gary King says his office may soon finish investigations into some fraud allegations against more than dozen behavioral health providers shut off from Medicaid payments by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration.

NM Court Considers Legalizing Gay Marriage - Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court is stepping into the fray over gay marriage and could set a statewide precedent at a time when some counties grant the unions and others don't.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments from lawyers Wednesday. The court will issue a decision later.

At issue is a ruling by an Albuquerque district court judge that it's unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Court Won't Immediately Decide Gay Marriage Case - Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court says it won't issue an immediate decision in a case that could decide whether gay marriage is legal statewide.

The state Supreme Court will hear two hours of arguments from lawyers in the case on Wednesday.

The court clerk told lawyers last week that the court won't make a decision on the day of the hearing but will take the case under consideration.

Donors Give More To Officials' PACs Than Parties - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico's major political parties find themselves lagging in fundraising behind committees run by individual elected officials.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Gov. Susana Martinez's political action committee raised six times as much during the past six months as the state Republican Party.

2 Hurt When Balloon Hits Power Line In New Mexico - Associated Press

Officials have identified the two men hospitalized with burns and injuries after a balloon in Albuquerque's International Balloon Fiesta hit a power line yesterday morning. Police in Rio Rancho say 59-year-old Mark Kilgore, of Albuquerque, was the pilot. They say 66-year-old Daniel Lovato, a passenger, was shocked when he reached out to free the gondola from power lines.

NM AG Says Abortion Ban Unenforceable - Associated Press

RNC Hires Hispanic Director For NM - Associated Press

As part of its ongoing effort to woo more Latinos, the Republican National Committee is building a permanent ground operation in New Mexico.

The RNC, along with the Republican Party of New Mexico, says it has hired Jose Orozco as New Mexico Hispanic Engagement Director. Orozco's job, the GOP says, will be to "work in partnership with the RNC to ensure a year-round presence in Hispanic neighborhoods" in advance of next year's gubernatorial and congressional elections.

Commission To Select NM Chief Public Defender - Associated Press

An 11-member commission is preparing to select the state's chief public defender, who administers a newly independent agency providing legal representation to criminal defendants who can't afford a lawyer.

The commission meets Tuesday in Albuquerque to interview five semi-finalists and must make a selection by Oct. 15.

NM Not Offering Aid To Reopen Federal Parks - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration isn't considering offering state money to try to reopen popular tourism stops in the national park system closed because of the federal government shutdown.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said in a statement that national parks are a federal responsibility and the failure "to perform even basic functions like funding government operations is a sign of the terrible dysfunction and inability to work together in Washington."

Fired CEO Of NMFA Files Public Records Lawsuit - Associated Press

The former top executive of the New Mexico Finance Authority sued Gov. Susana Martinez and one of her cabinet secretaries for failing to release public records requested in April.

Ex-CEO Rick May brought a lawsuit Wednesday in state district court in Santa Fe against Martinez and Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford.

New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Goes Live - Associated Press

New Mexico officials say 170 businesses signed up for health insurance for their workers on the opening day of a state-run online marketplace.

However, individuals faced problems with a federal health insurance exchange that three dozen states, including New Mexico, relied upon for their enrollment.

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