Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST

Feb 12, 2020

New Mexico public pension reform faces vote in state SenateSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico state Senate is considering a proposal to shore up New Mexico's overextended pension fund for state and local government workers. The bill from Democratic state Sen. George Munoz of Gallup responds to concerns about $6.6 billion in unfunded pension liabilities that are weighing down the credit rating of the state and its largest city and driving up borrowing costs. Managers of the $16 billion fund overseen by the the Public Employees Retirement Association say an economic downturn could severely undermine the fund's long-term solvency and its ability to meet retirement obligations.


New Mexico panel OKs plan to spend $100M to fix state damsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A plan to spend $100 million to fix dams throughout New Mexico passed its first test Tuesday amid an urgent call to improve the facilities. The New Mexico Senate Conservation Committee voted 9-0 to move along a measure that would add funding to fix the state's dam infrastructure. Democratic Sen. Pete Campos says the state had no choice but to get started soon on fixing damns or risk a tragedy in the future. New Mexico leads the nation with the highest percentage of high-hazard dams in either poor or unsatisfactory condition, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.


Booming New Mexico oilfield to get high-speed internet soonJAL, N.M. (AP) — Businesses and residents living in the southern end of a southeast New Mexico county likely will have high-speed internet by the end of the year. The Hobbs News-Sun reports the New Mexico Department of Information Technology on Monday announced a new public-private partnership expected to build much-needed broadband infrastructure in Lea County. Officials say the move will accommodate the current economic expansion occurring in the Permian Basin. ExxonMobil, the state of New Mexico and Plateau Telecommunications Inc. will develop a $5 million fiber network offering advanced broadband services to businesses along a 107-mile (172-kilometer) route beginning east of Carlsbad and running to Jal, New Mexico. 


State auditor to probe travel by Albuquerque councilorALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón has announced that he is investigating an Albuquerque city councilor's trip to three East Coast cities that cost $6,300 to taxpayers. KOAT-TV reports Colón and the city's Inspector General's Office said Tuesday both were looking into the June trip taken by Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Pena. Documents obtained by the station show the city paid more than $6,300 for Pena's 12-day trip to Philadelphia, New York City and Washington. Pena told the television station she took a train because she's afraid of planes. She also took her husband and two grandchildren and defended the move since she said the family rarely travels. 


Red-flag gun bill advances toward decisive House floor voteSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic legislators in New Mexico are sending a red-flag gun proposal toward a decisive House floor vote. The bill pushed forward Tuesday would allow law enforcement to petition a court for the temporary surrender of guns by people who appear to pose a danger to themselves or others. Relatives of gun owners and school administrators can request through a sworn affidavit that gun rights be suspended. Advocates for gun rights have condemned the proposal. Supporters of the bill say police need new tools to contain suicide rates and prevent gun violence in the wake of mass shootings.AP-US-OIL-PUBLIC-LANDSOil from federal lands tops 1B barrels as Trump eases rulesBILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Oil production from federally-managed lands and waters topped a record 1 billion barrels last year. That's up more than 13% from 2018 as the Trump administration eases rules on the industry and technological advances push development into new areas. Critics charge that the gains being made by energy companies come at the expense of the environment, with fewer safeguards to protect the land and wildlife from harm. Oil production royalties collected by the government totaled $7.5 billion in 2019. That's beneath record revenues in 2013, when crude prices topped $90 a barrel.


Carcinogen traces found in some Clovis drinking water wellsCLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — Clovis' public water utility has decommissioned some drinking water wells after finding traces of a cancer-causing pollutant. According to the New Mexico Environment Department, the company in charge of Clovis' public drinking water found a known carcinogen in 10 of its 82 wells at the entry point where the water would be piped to households. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no drinking water limit for PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals. But the agency has an established a lifetime health advisory level for two chemicals in the PFAS group — PFOA and PFOS — at 70 parts per trillion, which means there may be adverse effects if PFAS is ingested above this threshold for many years. 


Number of suspensions increase at Albuquerque Public SchoolsALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A school district in New Mexico has released a report that showed more than 4,000 more students were suspended last year compared to the previous year, revealing previous improper documentation. The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that there were more than 12,000 student suspensions at Albuquerque Public Schools in 2018-2019, a 51% increase compared to the more than 7,900 students suspended the year before. The state Public Education Department says the increase can be attributed to the district not previously reporting all of the suspensions to the state as required, up until last year. District spokeswoman Monica Armenta says the district believed it was reporting everything it needed to.