Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST
- LEGISLATURE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State House lawmakers in New Mexico have endorsed a $1 billion increase in general fund spending to reinforce health care for the poor, teacher salaries, environmental regulation, policing and more. Lead House budget negotiator and Democratic Rep. Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup says the spending plan uses a surge in state government income to improve education, bolster public safety and spur economic growth in a state with the highest rate of childhood poverty in the American West. House Republican emphasized their support for companion tax cuts. Legislators clashed on the Senate floor over a Democrat-sponsored bill to reduce climate-warming pollution from the transportation sector by establishing a low-carbon fuel standard.
Money that will flow to Native American tribes as part of an opioid drug settlement with a major manufacturer and three distributors won't come quickly. But tribal leaders say it will play a part in healing their communities from an epidemic that has disproportionately killed Native Americans. Tribes have responded to the opioid crisis with healing and wellness centers, additional tools for law enforcement and an emphasis on culture and tradition. Many of the financial resources have been thin. Each of the 574 federally recognized tribes will be eligible for a share of $590 million from the settlement, even if they weren't part of lawsuits.
- WINTER WEATHER-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A major storm was leaving New Mexico on Thursday but leaving bitterly cold temperatures and roads slick from ice and packed with snow, prompting closures of schools in several cities and nonessential government services in Albuquerque. The National Weather Service canceled winter storm warnings as conditions improved but urged drivers to be cautious as subfreezing temperatures made travel hazardous. State police said a pileup along Interstate 40 on Wednesday left one woman dead and five others injured. Public schools were closed Thursday in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho due to icy road conditions and Las Cruces switched to remote learning. Albuquerque closed government offices, senior centers and libraries.
- KIDNAPPING-TIME RESTRAINED
PHOENIX (AP) — A federal court on Thursday overturned a man's kidnapping conviction stemming from his assaulting his girlfriend for seven minutes, ruling that the time he restrained the victim while beating her was too brief to be charged separately. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Giordano Jackson of Teesto, Arizona, be resentenced on his assault conviction stemming from the July 2017 incident.. In a a separate but related decision, the court upheld Jackson's convictions for first-degree murder and other crimes in his fatal beating of the same woman, Alvina Nez, in September 2017. Jackson was sentenced to life in prison for killing Nez.
- VOTING RIGHTS-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two election initiatives are inching forward in the New Mexico Legislature with the support of state election regulators. One is aimed at expanding voter access and another is designed to shore up election administration and oversight. Democratic state Senate majority leader Peter Wirth urged colleagues on a Senate panel to expand voting access under a bill that makes Election Day a state holiday, streamlines procedures for voting by mail and further automates voter registration. Separately, the full Senate debated a bill to shore up election procedures and oversight as voting habits shift toward mail-in ballots.
- BC-NM-LAWMAKER RESIGNS-REPLACEMENT
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Bernalillo County Commission has appointed former commissioner Art De La Cruz to the New Mexico House of Representatives. De La Cruz, a Democrat, takes the seat representing District 12 in Albuquerque. It was vacated by Rep. Brittney Barreras, who announced her resignation Friday. Barreras was halfway through her first term when she abruptly resigned through a statement issued by the Democratic caucus. She said "all of the pressure and stress" had taken a toll on her mental health. The commission voted 4-1 to appoint De La Cruz over two other candidates.
A major winter storm that already cut electric power to about 350,000 homes and businesses from Texas to the Ohio Valley was set to leave Pennsylvania and New England glazed in ice and smothered in snow. The storm disrupted flights at major hubs in the U.S. on Friday morning, including airports in New York City, Boston and Dallas. Ice threatened to wreak havoc on travel and electric service in the Northeast before the storm heads out to sea late Friday and Saturday. The storm began Tuesday and moved across the country during the week, causing a deadly tornado Thursday in Alabama and dumping more than a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest.
- NEW MEXICO-WATER CHIEF
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed her recently named water adviser to now serve as the state engineer. As New Mexico's top water official, Mike Hamman will oversee water rights and will serves as secretary of the Interstate Stream Commission. The panel manages interstate water compacts and long-term water planning. Hamman will replace John D'Antonio, who retired in December after citing a persistent lack of financial support to protect the state's water resources. Hamman told lawmakers earlier this week that one priority will be completing the governor's 50-year water plan as the state aims to be better prepared for a more arid future.