Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment

Mar 12, 2019

Forecasters: Dangerous storm to hit much of New MexicoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Forecasters say much of New Mexico will be hit Tuesday by a "potentially historic storm system" with dangerous weather conditions expected to include fast-moving severe thunderstorms capable of producing damaging wind and baseball-sized hail.The National Weather Service also says tornadoes are possible in east-central and southeast New Mexico south of Interstate 40 and east of U.S. 54 on Tuesday afternoon and evening and that dangerously high winds with gusts up to 75 mph (121 kph) are expected across much of central and eastern New Mexico on Wednesday.According to the weather service, winds could be strong enough to flip tractor-trailer rigs and other high-profile vehicles. Other possible hazards include power outages and downed trees.Heavy snow is expected starting early Wednesday morning in northern and western New Mexico.


State Senate panel rejects bill on pre-existing conditionsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill aimed ensuring medical insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions in New Mexico has been voted down by a state Senate committee.A Senate panel voted Monday to sideline the Democrat-backed initiative to enshrine into state law provisions of former President Barack Obama's health care law that protect medical patients with pre-existing conditions.Advocates for the legislation says provisions of the Affordable Care Act are at risk from a lawsuit by Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration's push for cheaper, skimpier health plans.Republicans who object to the legislation joined with Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants in a 4-3 vote.


New Mexico forestry division gets first woman leaderSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An associate director with The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico has been chosen as the first woman to lead the state forestry division.Laura McCarthy's hiring was announced Monday by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, which oversees the division.McCarthy will be the 11th state forester since Ray Bell, who was the first to hold the post in 1958 and was known for caring for Smokey Bear the iconic cub.McCarthy started her career as a wildland firefighter. She has more than 25 years of experience in forestry-related work, including for the U.S. Forest Service and the Forest Guild.McCarthy will oversee 75 full-time employees and more than 300 seasonal firefighters and will be responsible for fire suppression on 43 million acres (174,014 square kilometers) on non-federal, non-municipal, non-tribal lands.


New Mexico land office lower leasing fees for 2019SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Land Office says it will be lowering fees this year for agricultural leases on state trust land.State statute calls for the agency to annually update the fees assessed to ranchers and farmers who lease trust land for livestock grazing.The amount is determined by a formula that accounts for private land lease rates, cattle prices, livestock production costs and other factors. The formula has been used to determine grazing rental rates since 1988.Revenues earned by the agency help support public education.Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says agricultural leases are an important part of the agency's business, as about 8.8 million acres (35,612 square kilometers) are leased to ranchers and farmers.She says the leases represent a dedication to supporting the state's agricultural roots.


New Mexico mulls state-run pot shops, subsidized medical useSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would become the first U.S. state to set up its own government-operated marijuana stores and subsidize medical cannabis for the poor under a bill brokered between Republicans and Democrats, as new wave of states weighs legislation that would legalize recreational sales and consumption.The idea for state-run pot shops comes from a trio of GOP state senators who broke with local Republican Party orthodoxy to embrace legal marijuana. It is a decidedly big-government approach that also would require that marijuana consumers carry receipts of purchase or confront penalties.Those provisions were sown into Democrat-sponsored legislation that contains currents of social justice including medical cannabis subsidies for poor people with debilitating medical conditions.Several powerful conservative Democrats still stands in the way of a Senate floor vote on legalization.


California water agencies fight over multistate drought planPHOENIX (AP) — A major Southern California water agency is positioning itself to shoulder the state's entire water contribution under a plan to preserve a key river in the U.S. West that serves 40 million people.The Metropolitan Water District board is voting Tuesday on a proposal to essentially write out of a multistate drought plan another agency that gets more Colorado River water than anyone else.The Imperial Irrigation District says it'll only provide water to keep a key reservoir from dropping to drastically low levels if U.S. officials commit $200 million to address a massive, briny lake southeast of Los Angeles.Metropolitan says that effort shouldn't stall the drought plan and it can cover Imperial's contribution.The U.S. government could impose its own rules for water going to California, Arizona and Nevada if seven states can't reach an agreement.


The Latest: Ban-the-box bill sent to New Mexico governorSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill that would remove criminal history questions from initial job applications in the private sector is headed to the governor's desk.The bill from Democratic Sen. Bill O'Neill of Albuquerque cleared the Legislature on a 45-15 vote of the House with all Republicans who were present in opposition.A similar bill was vetoed in 2017 by former GOP Gov. Susana Martinez.Under the new bill, private employers may take prior convictions into consideration after an initial review of the job application and a discussion of employment.Similar "ban-the-box" regulations that eliminate prior convictions from check lists on job applications have been adopted in at least 11 states that include California, Illinois and Washington.


New Mexico plan to boost spending heads to Senate floorSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Adjustments to a $7 billion annual general fund spending plan for the state of New Mexico would devote greater resources to economic development subsidies and drop a requirement that the University of New Mexico revive recently disbanded sports teams.The lead Senate budget committee on Monday endorsed a $703 million increase in general fund spending for the fiscal year starting July 1. That represents an additional $19 million beyond the House-approved bill.The amended bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote.Senate amendments could boost current year spending by $60 million on a closing fund to encourage business expansions.Minor adjustments were made to a plan for public education spending of $3.25 billion that represents a 16 percent increase over current-year spending.