Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MST

Feb 13, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's bid to become the 12th U.S. state to legalize recreational use of marijuana abruptly fell flat after state senators in a Legislature dominated by Democrats rejected a bill that would have forced permission for sales in all of the state's cities and towns. In a late-night committee vote Wednesday, two Democratic senators joined with Republicans in a 6-4 vote to halt a legalization bill born from yearlong legalization preparation effort by first-term Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The vote illustrates the difficulties of using the legislative process and not a ballot initiative to fully legalizing marijuana. The governor says the legalization of recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former congressional intern to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham while she was a U.S. congresswoman has been arrested in connection with vandalism at the headquarters of the Republican Party of New Mexico. Court documents show Cameron Chase McCall was arrested Wednesday and charged with criminal damage to property. Video footage showed a man early Saturday morning spray-paint the words "still traitors" on the building. McCall's attorney said her client didn't do what he's accused of doing, and the case was poorly investigated. Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki condemned the vandalism.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming officials have reached an agreement with a Navajo tribal company that would give them authority to take the company to court to enforce environmental laws at two coal mines. Navajo Transitional Energy Company acquired the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming, and the Young's Creek mine in Montana, from Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy in a 2019 bankruptcy sale. As a sovereign tribal entity, the Navajo company couldn't normally be sued in state court. Wyoming and Montana officials have been negotiating limited waivers of sovereign immunity for NTEC as a condition for the company to eventually get state permits for its new mines. Negotiations between NTEC and Montana continue.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virgin Galactic's spaceship VSS Unity has arrived at its new home in New Mexico after being ferried from Southern California by a special carrier aircraft. The long-awaited move began Thursday at Mojave Air & Space Port in the Mojave Desert. The flight took the spaceship to Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, where it will undergo final testing in preparation for commercial operations that will carry tourists on hops into space. The move to New Mexico marks a significant milestone toward commercial flights, which the company has said it anticipates will begin this year. 


LOVINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A cheese factory that has been vacant for more than a decade will be transformed into the state's newest hemp operation under plans that will get a boost from state and local economic development funding. The New Mexico Economic Development Department says Big Dog Industries will be taking ownership of the building under an agreement with the Lovington Economic Development Corp. Big Dog plans to invest $15 million in the building and its seed-to-retail business over the next several years. State officials say the project is expected to have a significant economic impact over the next decade.


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.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque companies operating under the name of Select Staffing will pay $199,500 to five female employees to settle a lawsuit that alleged the women were subjected to sexual harassment while working at the Albuquerque Police Department's public-records unit. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Thursday that a federal judge approved the settlement of the EEOC's suit filed against Real Time Staffing Services Inc., Employment Solutions Management Inc. and Employbridge LLC. The EEOC lawsuit alleged the women were subjected to sexual comments and unwelcome touching. The companies don't acknowledge liability or management wrongdoing n the settlement. Four of the five women in the Select Staffing case previously received a $490,000 settlement from the city.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal that calls for reshaping the administrative structure of New Mexico's chief regulatory board is headed to the House floor for consideration with a week remaining in the 30-day legislative session. Supporters of revamping the Public Regulation Commission say the legislation will help insulate the staff from political considerations and reduce turnover. The measure has the support of business groups. The independently elected commission has been at the center of a fight over how the state is implementing a landmark energy law that involves mandates for more renewable energy and the closure of a major coal-fired power plant.