- ELECTION 2020-SANDERS-IMMIGRATION
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is calling for decriminalizing illegal border crossings, backing an idea that further exposes the Democratic presidential primary's deep ideological divides.The Vermont senator released an immigration proposal Thursday, writing, "Unauthorized presence in the United States is a civil, not a criminal, offense."Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also has called for repealing the criminal prohibition against crossing the border illegally.South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (BOO'-tuh-juhj) says he'd support making illegal border crossings civil offenses but not in cases in which "fraud is involved." Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't fully backed decriminalization of illegal border crossings, either.Although there's no consensus, decriminalization could be a tough general election sell for Democrats. Some voters may disagree with President Donald Trump's hard-line policies but worry about being too lenient.
- NAVAJO CEREMONY-DEATHS
ALAMO, N.M. (AP) — Navajo authorities have confirmed two people died and 14 others were injured during a traditional religious ceremony.KOAT-TV reports Christina Tsosie with the Navajo Police Department says the 14 injured people were treated for smoke inhalation.Tsosie says the ceremony lasts throughout the night and involves an open fire pit burning inside a hogan, a traditional Navajo structure typically built out of logs and earth.Tsosie says Alamo first responders performed CPR on the two people, but attempts were unsuccessful. Their causes of death have not been determined.Police say the ceremony began Saturday in a hogan on the Alamo Navajo Reservation in Socorro County.Police say a woman reported finding an unresponsive man and woman Sunday on the floor inside the hogan.
- PENSION LIABILITIES-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators are holding their first open discussion of suggested pension reforms from the governor's office to address a roughly $6 billion unfunded liability at the New Mexico retirement plan for state and local government employees.The Legislature's pensions-oversight committee meets Wednesday to discuss ways to shore up the fund overseen by the Public Employees Retirement Association.A pension solvency task force appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has suggested a combined 4% increase in pension contributions by the state and most employees. Annual cost of living adjustments on pension payouts would be linked to investment returns on pension assets.State Senator George Munoz, chairman of the pension oversight committee, said Tuesday that it will be hard to approve a pension reform bill during next year's rapid-fire, 30-day legislative session.
- NEW MEXICO ENERGY FUTURE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A landmark energy law designed to wean a sun-drenched state off coal-fired electricity and boost renewable power has not gone as planned for legislators who brokered a deal between utility owners and environmentalists.A panel of lawmakers was scheduled Thursday to hear a progress report on the Energy Transition Act, amid legal skirmishes over who should foot the bill for divesting from coal -- utility company investors or customers.New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed landmark legislation in March that sets ambitious new renewable energy goals.The law also is supposed to ease the economic pains of closing the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington. But advocates for utility customers say it provides an unjust financial windfall to the Public Service Co. of New Mexico.
- CAPITOL CHRISTMAS TREE
RED RIVER, N.M. (AP) — A 60-foot (18-meter) blue spruce was cut down Wednesday during a ceremony in a forested canyon in northern New Mexico, starting a 2½-week journey that will take it to the U.S. Capitol to be this year's Christmas tree.A sawyer used a chain saw to sever the trunk, which one of two cranes then jerked several feet up in the air. Then both cranes swung the tree over to a flatbed trailer at the Carson National Forest site.The tree will tour New Mexico before leaving on a trip scheduled to conclude Nov. 24 at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington.According to the project website , stops are scheduled in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.Each year a national forest is selected to share a tree with the nation.
- EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is tapping an official with the District of Columbia to lead the state's new Early Childhood Education Department in an effort to improve early childhood wellbeing and preparedness for school.Elizabeth Groginsky is leaving her job in Washington, D.C., as an assistant superintendent of early learning to become New Mexico's first early education Cabinet secretary. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the appointment Wednesday.The new department will oversee home-visiting programs, prekindergarten schooling and child-care assistance, bringing services currently provided by four different departments under one roof.Lawmakers who created the new agency worry that children are falling behind in their development before even reaching elementary school, with lifelong consequences.
- HOMELESS SHELTER-APPROVAL
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico mayor has prioritized a new centralized homeless shelter to replace an existing facility after residents voted to approve the project.The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that Albuquerque voters approved $14 million Tuesday for the project as part of a $128.5 million general obligation bond package.General obligation bonds are secured by cities able to repay its debt obligation through taxes or revenue.Bernalillo County officials say the new 300-bed facility is intended to provide temporary shelter to men, women and families and provide resources and services guiding them to permanent housing.City officials say about 5,600 Albuquerque households experienced homelessness in 2018.Some homeless service providers oppose the plan advocating instead for multiple smaller, scattered shelters.A location has not yet been determined.
- UNM ADMINISTRATOR-RETIREMENT PLANS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The longest serving senior administrator at the University of New Mexico says he's planning to retire next year.Dr. Paul Roth announced Wednesday that he's stepping down as dean of the UNM medical school, chancellor of the UNM Health Sciences Center and chief executive officer of the UNM Health System once his replacement is in place.Roth had been a fixture at UNM for more than four decades.He came to UNM in 1976 for a family practice residency program and became a professor of emergency medicine in 1993.For the last 26 years, Roth has been the dean of the medical school and he's been chancellor of health sciences for 14 years.After his retirement, Roth plans to work part time in the School of Medicine directly with students.