Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment

Mar 13, 2019

Legislature negotiates state budget boost, stimulus packageSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are coming close to an annual budget agreement that increases spending on education by nearly a half-billion dollars and channels a windfall in tax income toward infrastructure and economic stimulus.The state Senate was poised to vote Wednesday on a general fund budget bill that increases spending by just over $700 million or 11 percent to $7 billion. Spending on public education would increase by $448 million to $3.2 billion as the state grapples with a court order to improve schooling for poor, minority students.Disagreements have emerged between the House and Senate about the distribution of teacher pay raises. A separate Senate bill would provide $858 million in surplus general funds on state and local infrastructure projects, from roads to rooftop solar and high-speed internet.


The Latest: Appeals court mulls Native American adoption lawNEW ORLEANS (AP) — Opponents of a 1978 law governing Native American adoptions have told a federal appeals court in New Orleans that the law is an unconstitutional threat to the well-being of children and families.The Indian Child Welfare Act gives preference to Native American families in adoptions involving Native American Children. Opponents told the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday the law is a race-based intrusion on individual states' adoption procedures. They also fear that a decision upholding the law could endanger adoptions already completed.Indian tribes say the law is needed to preserve Native American families and culture.A federal district judge in Texas struck down the law last year. The tribes want a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit to overrule that judge. It's unclear when the panel will rule.


The Latest: Colorado trooper dies after being hit by carDENVER (AP) — A Colorado state patrol officer who was hit by a car during a winter storm while responding to an accident has died.The Colorado State Patrol says Corporal Daniel Groves was outside his patrol car along Interstate 76 northeast of Denver on Wednesday when a driver lost control and hit him.Officials say Groves was helping another driver who had slid off the highway.The State Patrol said Groves was taken to a hospital but died there of his injuries.Groves was 52 and had worked for the agency for nearly 12 years.The crash is being investigated. The statement said high speed in poor driving conditions may be a factor.Colorado's governor has declared a state of emergency in response to the storm.


The Latest: Medical unit to help migrants in New MexicoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Department of Health has sent a mobile medical unit to the border community of Las Cruces to help with health assessments for migrants being temporarily housed at shelters around the city.Officials say the unit is outfitted with equipment to check vitals and assess whether any of the migrants are dehydrated or need additional care.Deputy Health Secretary Abinash Achrekar tells The Associated Press that he's hopeful the roving unit will provide another option for care. He's also working to address liability issues for providers who are interested in volunteering.Asylum-seeking migrants are being housed at faith-based shelters in the Las Cruces area and now at hotels in Albuquerque before being sent around the country to stay with family or sponsors as they await formal hearings.Doctors in the Las Cruces area say they have been treating migrants since 2014 but that the volume of people coming into the community has increased significantly in the last several weeks.


Tornado destroy 10 homes in New Mexico, 5 people injuredDEXTER, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a tornado has destroyed 10 homes in a small southeastern New Mexico community and five people suffered non-life threatening injuries.National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Jones said the tornado touched down Tuesday in Dexter for about five minutes but that its strength hasn't been determined. The agency is sending a team to survey damage.Chaves County Mike Herrington in a statement says cleanup won't start Wednesday because heavy winds of up to 70 mph (112 kph) are blowing debris around.He told the Roswell Daily Record that five people were taken to hospitals with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.The newspaper says roofs were ripped off buildings.The American Red Cross sent a team to assist people who were displaced from their homes.


New Mexico water boss: 'We need to protect our water'ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top water official says he will be working closely with the state attorney general's office as the legal fight over management of the Rio Grande simmers with Texas and the U.S. government.State Engineer John D'Antonio appeared Wednesday for a confirmation hearing before a key Senate committee, winning praise from a bipartisan group of lawmakers for the work he has done over a decades-long career in water.The full Senate later confirmed his appointment with a unanimous vote.D'Antonio previously served as state engineer from 2003 until 2011 when he left to take a post with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.He told lawmakers the fight over the Rio Grande is complicated but that New Mexico has strong technical arguments and needs to be aggressive in making its claims.


New Mexico may join popular vote compactSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Senate has voted for New Mexico to join a growing list of states pushing to elect the president of the United States according to the national popular vote.The Senate voted 25-16 Tuesday to approve the bill from Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque that would enroll New Mexico in an interstate compact that requires it cast electoral votes for the national popular vote winner, and not necessarily the winner in New Mexico. The compact would only go into effect when its membership represents at least 270 electoral votes.Eleven Democratic-leaning states and the District of Columbia already have entered the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Democrat-controlled Colorado will soon join the list, giving the compact 181 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to elect the president.