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

Feb 12, 2020

New Mexico public pension reform passes in SenateSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Senate has passed proposal to shore up New Mexico's overextended pension fund for about 115,000 state and local government workers. Senators approved the measure Wednesday in a 25-15 vote with some moderate Democrats voting against the measure. The bill 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.


Sanctuary status clouds city's access to public safety fundsALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The top federal prosecutor in New Mexico says the state's most populous city stands to lose out on millions of public safety dollars because its status as a sanctuary city prohibits the sharing of information with federal immigration authorities. U.S. Attorney John Anderson in an opinion piece published this week said the grant funding is desperately needed to address Albuquerque's high rates of violent crime and he's hopeful the city can find a way to accept the money. But two city councilors are accusing the U.S. Justice Department of using the funding to pressure Albuquerque into changing its policies.


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 dams 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.


Wanted man pulls over after sheriff calls during pursuitThe pursuit of an armed man by New Mexico deputies ended after he called his mother and then got a call from the sheriff —- another one of his relatives —- who urged him to surrender. Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington said he called Jeremy Graves as he was being pursued in the Roswell area. Herrington told the Roswell Daily Record that Graves threw the gun out of his car and stopped but didn't get out until deputies tried to break a window to take him into custody. Graves doesn't yet have an attorney who could comment.


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. COUNCILOR-QUESTIONABLE TRAVELState 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.


Oil 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.