Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT

Jun 4, 2019

New Mexico city gets state funding for migrant aidLAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The city of Las Cruces has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the state to offset costs that the border city has incurred as it provides temporary shelter and food for migrants.About 8,200 migrants have been brought to Las Cruces since mid-April as shelters in El Paso, Texas, have been overwhelmed by the surge of asylum seekers .The funding awarded to Las Cruces is a one-time allotment provided through a grant from New Mexico's homeland security agency.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the grant program in May , saying it would help reimburse local government agencies that are providing humanitarian aid.State lawmakers recently set aside $2.5 million for border security, but the governor's office did not specify how much money is available as part of the grant program.


Court rejects coal company's chemical claim for tax refund(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Court of Appeals has rejected a tax protest from coal company that sought a more than $6.4 million refund by claiming its coal was a chemical.The Albuquerque Journal reports the court last week upheld the hearing officer's decision against Delaware-based Peabody Coalsales Co.The company sought the refund in 2015 under a 1966 state tax deduction that allows companies to be reimbursed for receipts from selling chemicals.The state Taxation and Revenue Department disputed the claim. An administrative hearing officer ruled that coal sales were not intended to be covered by this tax incentive.Attorneys for Peabody did not respond to the newspaper's questions Monday.The state Legislature this year approved a bill that tightens the tax deduction's language.___


Hearings planned on New Mexico's hemp manufacturing ruleLAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will be hosting two public hearings on a newly developed hemp manufacturing rule.The first meeting will be June 27 in Albuquerque. There will be another meeting the following day at the agency's office in Las Cruces.The proposed rule establishes regulations related to the licensing, fees, eligibility and inspection requirements for people involved in specific activities involving the testing of raw hemp for regulatory purposes.The rule also will pertain to people involved in specific activities related to the breeding of hemp.The comment period runs through June 28.Legislation signed into law earlier this year grants the agriculture department and the state environment department regulatory authority over manufacturers, processors, labs, researchers and plant breeders.


Regents approve pay hike for ENMU president(Information from: KENW-TV, http://kenw.org)PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The president of Eastern New Mexico University will be getting a raise.KENW-FM Radio News reports the university's board of regents voted 4-1 over the weekend to increase Jeff Elwell's salary by 4%. Student Regent Joseph Gergel was the dissenting vote.The increase will bump Elwell's annual salary from $245,000 to $254,800. The raise will take effect with the start of the fiscal year July 1.Earlier this year, the regents voted to authorize 4% salary increases for all other university employees. Those raises also will take effect next month.Elwell joined Eastern New Mexico University as the 10th president in 2017. He became chancellor of the three-campus system the following year.Elwell previously served as dean of the art and sciences college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.___


US House hopeful in New Mexico calls for Trump impeachmentSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Marco Serna, a northern New Mexico district attorney and Democratic candidate for an open U.S. House seat, is calling on President Donald Trump to be impeached.Serna told The Associated Press on Monday he came to the conclusion after reading analyses of the Mueller Report. He vowed to pursue impeachment if he's elected to Congress and Trump wins a second term.The Santa Fe-bred career prosecutor said he believes Trump participated or encouraged illegal activity in at least 10 instances related to an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.Trump has denied any wrongdoing.Serna is part of a field of at least seven Democratic candidates. Third District Rep. Ben Ray Luján is running for U.S. Senate in 2020.


New Mexico's chief medical investigator resignsALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's chief medical investigator plans to resign from his post next month after five years in the position.The Office of the Medical Investigator, or OMI, announced on Monday that Dr. Kurt Nolte is stepping down from his post. But he will remain a professor in the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine Department of Pathology.OMI is part of the UNM Health Sciences Center, and investigates more than 7,000 deaths annually in New Mexico.Nolte has worked for OMI for 29 years in all.Dr. Paul Roth, UNM Health Sciences Center chancellor and chair of the OMI board, thanked Nolte for his service.An interim chief medical investigator has not yet been named. The OMI board is planning a national search for his replacement.


Lawsuit claims oil boom imperils national park in New MexicoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists say U.S. land managers violated environmental laws and their own regulations when issuing dozens of leases to drill in one of the nation's busiest oilfields.WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court, claiming the oil boom in southeastern New Mexico is a threat to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the surrounding area's cave systems and desert slopes.The group also is concerned about deteriorating air quality, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management failed to consider the cumulative effects of oil and gas development in the Permian Basin.The agency is updating the area's development plan, but environmentalists contend more than 200 leases awarded in 2017 and 2018 compromise that effort.The leases cover more than 106 square miles (276 square kilometers) in New Mexico.


New Mexico jazz teacher fired for making fake awards(Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com)SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico School for the Arts teacher has been fired for falsifying awards for a student.The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the school confirmed Monday that jazz instructor Orlando Madrid was fired effective immediately.School spokesman Sean Johnson said he could not speak further because it is a personnel matter.The Albuquerque Journal reported last month that Madrid made up first-place certificates for a student who performed at the New York City Jazz Festival in April.Despite the festival being non-competitive, Madrid told the newspaper he made the certificates based on judges' input. He though the awards would help with fundraising.Johnson says Madrid taught jazz for the past year.Madrid did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.___