Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MST
- NEW MEXICO-PRETRIAL DETENTION
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller made another plea to New Mexico lawmakers to help with the city's crime problem. He testified Friday before a House committee on legislation that would clear the way for the most violent defendants to be kept behind bars pending trial. Republican Rep. Greg Nibert said he has been working for years to fix what many have described as a broken system. He likened the current state of criminal justice to a slap on the wrist. But he said the state needs to ensure that any changes to its pretrial detention system are constitutional.
- EDUCATION PAY INCREASE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham now supports a $15 minimum wage for school workers around the state after proposing a lower minimum to the Legislature earlier this month. The news came from her education secretary in a legislative hearing Friday. Fellow Democrats in the Legislature support a $15 minimum wage for school employees to help K-12 schools compete for workers amid an increasingly competitive labor market. In Santa Fe, for example, some unfilled food worker positions in the local school district start at just over $12 per hour, while a local McDonald's advertises a starting wage of $14 per hour.
- MUSTANG ROUNDUPS-LEGAL CHALLENGES
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge is considering temporarily suspending the capture of wild horses in Nevada where their advocates say the federal government is "needlessly and recklessly" killing free-roaming mustangs in violation of U.S. laws. The judge in Reno says she expects to rule by Monday, maybe sooner, on the horse advocates' request for an emergency court order pending another hearing to learn more about the potential danger of roundup near the Utah state line. The Bureau of Land Management insists it must gather the mustangs before the end of February. It's one of several scheduled on an expedited basis across the West as a result of severe drought.
- HYDROGEN INCENTIVES-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators are giving a cold reception to a package of financial incentives aimed at scaling up hydrogen production using New Mexico's vast natural gas reserves. A state House panel voted 6-4 on Thursday to indefinitely postpone consideration of a bill that would offer grants, loans and tax breaks to a nascent hydrogen industry. Time is running short for the bill to advance during a 30-day legislative session that ends on Feb. 17. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the oil industry are backing the initiative, as Republican support waivers. The plan came under withering criticism from leading environmentalists.
- BC-NM-NEW MEXICO-INFRASTRUCTURE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced the appointment of Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim as the director of infrastructure and implementation. Ortiz-Wertheim comes into the role from the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management where she served as the cabinet secretary since May 2020. While at DHS, Ortiz-Wertheim managed the distribution of more than $100 million in federal grants to New Mexico's communities, funding investments in irrigation systems, electrical grids, and other critical infrastructure. In her new role, Ortiz-Wertheim will work directly with broadband and water advisors to organize and oversee major investments in New Mexico's infrastructure following the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last year.
- NEW MEXICO NURSING SHORTAGE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico had a nursing shortage even before the pandemic and advocates are now trying to convince lawmakers to boost funding to increase capacity at the state's nursing schools. Legislative analysts have estimated that New Mexico needs more than 6,200 nurses. Supporters say $15 million in state funding to support nursing schools and students could boost the number of students by about 1,500. Linda Siegle of the New Mexico Nurses Association told lawmakers Thursday that the state will have to dedicate the money annually if it's serious about addressing what many called a crisis. Panelists say the pandemic made the state's nursing shortage worse.
- NMSU PROVOST REMOVED
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Carol Parker is out as New Mexico State University provost two months after being placed on paid administrative leave. NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu disclosed in an email to university employees this week that Parker was no longer a university employee as of Jan. 21. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Arvizu thanked Parker for her service to NMSU and wished Parker "the very best in her future endeavors." Parker was placed on leave Nov. 9 after faculty and student organizations passed no-confidence resolutions calling for the removals of Parker and President John Floros. Floros earlier this month announced down he would step down, making Arvizu the sole top leader.
- EDUCATION GOVERNOR SUBSTITUTE TEACHER
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she spent several hours on Wednesday filling in for an elementary school teacher. The lessons at Salazar Elementry School were part of a program allowing state workers to fill in as substitute teachers, part of Lujan Grisham's stopgap efforts to deal with teacher shortages that have become a crisis because of COVID0-19. A spokesperson for Santa Fe Public Schools says she is the first volunteer in the district under the new program. Seven more are waiting to clear paperwork. National Guard soldiers started serving as substitutes in Hobbs and other cities this week.