Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

Mar 14, 2019

New Mexico oilfield regulators regain authority under billSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico oilfield regulators would recover authority to directly levy civil fines against well operators who fail to properly maintain equipment or spill waste under a bill endorsed by the Senate.The 32-6 Senate vote Friday sends the bill to the House for approval of amendments before it can reach the governor. The bill contains oversight provisions for the handling of water in drilling and fracking.Collection of fines against oilfield operators has ground to a near halt in the aftermath of a 2009 state Supreme Court decision that required the involvement of state prosecutors to assess penalties.Under the bill, possible fines would increase from $1,000 a day to $2,500 — and possibly $10,000 for major threats to health, safety or the environment. Fines are capped at $200,000.


US immigration agents find ways around 'sanctuary' policiesPHOENIX (AP) — Despite scores of sanctuary laws around the country to shield immigrants from deportation, federal authorities are still getting under-the-table cooperation from some local law enforcement agencies.Activists say Immigration and Customs Enforcement has informal information-sharing relationships with police and jail officials. In New Mexico, for example, the staff at the county jail in Albuquerque was giving ICE access to its computers and tipping off the agency about inmates being released.Immigration activists say they have seen it places like Philadelphia, Chicago and several communities in California, which has a statewide sanctuary law. The American Civil Liberties Union reported this week that emails show that a detective in Orange County, California, regularly looked up license plate information for an immigration officer.


House passes $12 counteroffer on minimum wage increaseSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State House lawmakers are insisting on an eventual $12-an-hour statewide minimum wage and further increases tied to inflation.The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved amendments to a Senate-approved bill that would raise the state's $7.50-an-hour minimum wage for the first time in a decade.The two chambers of the Legislature are haggling over an appropriate increase and have until noon Saturday to reach a compromise.The Senate sidelined the original House-sponsored proposal and approved an $11 minimum wage.Under the latest House offer, the minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour next year and hit $12 on Jan. 1, 2022. Tipped-wage workers would earn a third of the minimum. The bill includes an $8.50-an-hour student wage.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned for a $12 minimum wage.


New Mexico group to keep pressing Congress on Trinity testALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world's first atomic bomb test plan to return to Washington, D.C., to press Congress about compensation.The Tularosa Basin Downwinders are holding a second annual benefit on Sunday in Albuquerque to raise money so members can speak before a Congressional committee about the effects of the Trinity Test on generations of Tularosa residents.Members of the consortium say many who lived in the area weren't told about the dangers and were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer. They say they want acknowledgment and compensation from the U.S. government.Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.Tina Cordova says members hope to speak before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee later this year.


The Latest: Trump issues veto threat over border resolutionWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is renewing his threat to veto a congressional resolution revoking his declaration of an emergency at the southern border. Trump had declared an emergency to try to circumvent Congress to access more money for his promised border wall.The Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday on the resolution, with many Republicans expected to join Democrats in disapproving the declaration.Trump tweeted early Thursday about "the big National Emergency vote today" in the Senate. He said, "I am prepared to veto, if necessary," and called the situation at the border "a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare."Trump has not yet vetoed a bill. Overturning a presidential veto requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, but there aren't enough votes to do so on the border resolution.__


Santa Fe archbishop: Accused priests don't represent churchALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester says people shouldn't write off the Roman Catholic Church because of former priests facing child rape charges.Wester told The Associated Press on Wednesday he understands the hurt and anger surrounding news of former Catholic priests being accused of sexual misconduct. But Wester says the church shouldn't be judged by the actions of a few and those actions don't represent the more than a billion Catholics around the world.This week, the New Mexico Attorney General's office announced it had filed charges against a former priest who prosecutors say brutally raped a young girl at an Albuquerque Catholic school 30 years ago.It was the third former priest to be arrested in recent month in connection with pass allegations of sexual abuse.


The Latest: Blizzard moves east, closes South Dakota officesPIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota's governor has closed state offices across much of the state as blizzard conditions move in from the West.Offices in 49 of South Dakota's 66 counties are closed Thursday as the National Weather Service warns of blizzard and winter-storm conditions a day after a massive late-winter storm hit Colorado.Gov. Kristi Noem says only essential personnel in the affected state offices should go to work.Heavy rain has caused flooding in southern and eastern South Dakota, with water covering some roads and highways. Rain and melting snow have caused similar conditions in Iowa.The weather is barreling into the Midwest after causing widespread power outages Wednesday in Colorado, where a blizzard forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and wreaked havoc on roadways as drivers became overwhelmed by blinding snow.


New Mexico education reforms now in governor's handsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Sweeping public education reforms have been approved by the New Mexico Legislature that would increase minimum teacher pay and boost spending on low-income students.The state House and Senate gave final approval Wednesday to mirror bills that would channel more than $100 million toward low-income students and provide incentives for school districts to lengthen the school year.Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports major provisions of the bills that would raise minimum teach salaries by as much as 12 percent and increase resources for at-risk students through adjustments to a complex school funding formula.The judiciary is threatening to take over budgeting decisions for public education after parents and school districts successfully sued the state for failing to provide an adequate education to students from minority and low-income households.