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

Feb 13, 2020

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The governor of New Mexico has appointed a city attorney to fill a vacant seat on the judicial district court in Chaves County. The Roswell Daily Record reported Wednesday that Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham named 44-year-old Roswell attorney Jared Kallunki to fill a seat in the 5th Judicial District. The seat was previously held by Kea Riggs who resigned in December after being sworn in as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court of New Mexico. It is unclear when Kallunki will be sworn in. Court authorities say Kallunki must run in November to retain his new position for a full six-year term.


EUNICE, N.M. (AP) — A southeastern New Mexico sheriff is vowing to go to jail rather than enforce a proposed red-flag gun law. The Hobbs News-Sun reports Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton told an audience at a Eunice City Hall meeting on Monday he's ready to go to jail, if necessary, for refusal to enforce the law. Helton said he'd be a one-term sheriff because a judge would place him under arrest. But he said he'd be able to sleep at night for standing his ground. The bill pushed forward Tuesday in a Democratic-controlled House committee would allow law enforcement to petition a court for the temporary surrender of guns by people who appear to pose a danger to themselves.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The effort to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico is all but doomed for this year after a proposal to do so was rejected by a key Senate committee. Two Democrats joined Republicans in a 6-4 vote to halt the bill that would have allowed recreational marijuana sales in every city and county while sheltering the state's existing medical cannabis program with tax breaks and patients subsidies. The outcome leaves little or no chance for reviving the bill before the state's annual legislative session ends next week. The initiative was backed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has filed to intervene in a rate case for one of Arizona's largest utility companies. The tribe is seeking ways to make up for the loss of coal revenue as power plants and mines shut down in the region, and to develop renewable energy projects. Arizona Public Service Co. operates the Four Corners Power Plant on the New Mexico portion of the Navajo reservation. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has said that coal-dependent communities should be provided resources for their historic contributions and to help transition to other sources of energy. Arizona utility regulators have told APS that it should be prepared to propose a transition fund for affected communities.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest county has reached a racial profiling settlement with a black woman who was stopped by deputies three times in less than a month but never cited. The Albuquerque Journal reports Bernalillo County and Sherese Crawford reached a $100,000 settlement agreement in connection with three stops by sheriff's deputies on Interstate 40. Crawford was working a temporary assignment in New Mexico as a deportation officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2017. According to her lawsuit, she was stopped once by former Deputy Leonard Armijo and twice by Deputy Patrick Rael.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Portions of the Gila River would be protected as wild and scenic under legislation being drafted by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. The New Mexico Democrats say they're seeking public comments as they put together the measure. The lawmakers say the greater Gila watershed makes up the largest remaining network of naturally flowing river segments in the southwestern United States. Udall described the Gila as an irreplaceable treasure that serves as one of New Mexico's favorite outdoor destinations. Supporters say with a wild and scenic designation, the river's traditional uses would be permanently protected and the region's economy would get a boost.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — An audit shows the city of Las Cruces avoided paying overtime to employees who staffed events in addition to their regular duties. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the audit accepted by the city council this month said $8,500 worth of overtime was not paid to Convention and Visitors Bureau workers. In addition, the audit found that employees were required to submit time cards excluding overtime hours. Records show the city paid out at least $20,824 in back pay and additional settlements to employees who worked overtime at city events.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Scientists and experts in New Mexico will share more than $441,000 in federal grant funding to develop tools that can better inform water management decisions. The funding from the Bureau of Reclamation will benefit the Interstate Stream Commission and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. New Mexico Tech will use its share to continue developing a data delivery service, with a goal of water-related data being more accessible and easier to use. The Interstate Stream Commission will explore new modeling approaches to develop better long-range forecasting and streamflow projection tools for the Rio Grande.