Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Various state legislators around the country are calling it quits this year, in part because of the low pay. It's an issue especially in part-time legislatures like Connecticut, where the base salary of $28,000 hasn't been raised in 21 years. There's concern that the low pay will discourage people of modest means from running, making legislature's less diverse racially, economically, and age and gender-wise. Bills increasing legislator pay were proposed in several states this year, including Connecticut, Georgia, Oregon, and New Mexico, which is the nation's only unsalaried legislature. But so far they've faltered. Some lawmakers fear that voting themselves a pay raise will rankle the voters.
- Evacuation orders for close to 5,000 people are still in place as firefighters battle a deadly blaze in New Mexico. The wind-fueled wildfire has ripped through the mountain community of Ruidoso. The flames have destroyed more than 200 homes and killed two people since the wildfire broke out Tuesday. Authorities said they suspect the fire was sparked by a downed power line. Elsewhere in the U.S., crews have been battling large fires this week in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, where a new blaze forced evacuations Friday along the Rocky Mountain's eastern front near Lyons about 18 miles north of Boulder.
- BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Interior Department is moving forward with the first onshore sales of public oil and gas drilling leases under President Joe Biden, but will sharply increase royalty rates for companies that extract oil. Friday's announcement comes as federal officials weigh efforts to fight climate change against pressure to bring down high gas prices. The royalty rate for new leases will increase to 18.75% from 12.5%. That's a 50% jump and marks the first increase since the 1920s. Republicans want Biden to expand U.S. crude production. But he faces calls from within his own party to do more to curb fossil fuel emissions that are heating the planet.
BC-US-REL-MIGRANT TEEN MINISTRY
- EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Every Sunday afternoon since last Easter, teens kneel by a makeshift altar at Fort Bliss and pray so hard that tears stream down their faces. They pray for families left behind when they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone without authorization and for quick release from this emergency shelter on a vast Army post in the Texas desert. And they pray for their futures. Here and at similar facilities set up along the southwestern border during migrant surges, Catholic priests, deacons, and music ministers celebrate Mass with them. They say they hope to bring these young people some comfort and healing.
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police have released more details about last month's officer-involved fatal shooting of a man suspected of firing shots into vehicles driving near his home in the Foothills area, killing one person and injuring two others. Police said Friday three officers responding to reports of an "active shooter" March 14 approached 52-year-old John Dawson after he exited the house about 40 minutes after the shootings. They were under the impression Hunter was surrendering but he "suddenly got to his feet and advanced on the officers. Police say three bean-bag rounds were deployed but Hunter began to pick up a handgun on the ground and the officers fired 12 shots.
NEW MEXICO-OIL AND GAS-EMISSIONS
- ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have approved more rules aimed at cracking down on pollution from the state's big oil and natural gas industry. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration on Thursday praised the rules and called them among the toughest in the nation. The rules set by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board come amid a rekindled debate over domestic U.S. production amid growing concerns about global energy market instability. Lujan Grisham is a Democrat running for reelection and has pushed for more regulations during her first term. She says the latest rules represent a big step toward her goal of lowering emissions and improving air quality.
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An appeals court on Friday uphold a lower court's rejection of two ranching groups' challenge to a federal agency's designation of certain riparian areas in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado as critical habitat of a mouse species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 designated nearly 22 square miles in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico as critical habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a U.S. District Court judge correctly rejected the challenge by the Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association and the Otero County Cattleman's Association.
WESTERN WATER WOES
- ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal water managers think they have a plan to keep the Rio Grande flowing this summer, but they conceded Thursday it all depends on the weather. The Rio Grande is a major water source for millions of people and thousands of square miles of farmland in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. Farmers along the river are being encouraged to forego irrigating their lands this season. Climate experts say March marked the third straight month of below-average precipitation across the U.S., and areas of record dryness are expanding in the West. Irrigation districts from the Pacific Northwest to the Colorado River Basin are warning farmers to expect less this year.