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Today's News

  • Local optometrist, community activist announces bid for Dist. 43

    Lisa Shin, a local business owner who has become active in the county Republican Party and local politics, is ready to take her mission to the New Mexico State Legislature.

    “This was an amazing opportunity for me to get involved in the political process,” Shin said. “I saw an opportunity and a door for something for me to talk about things I really care about.”

    District 43 covers Los Alamos County and parts of Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Rio Arriba counties. Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard has announced her plans to vacate the seat and run for the statewide office of land commissioner.

    Democrat Pete Sheehey announced in early December he would run for the seat. No other Republicans or Democrats have stepped forward.

    Tax reform, health care and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are all issues Shin plans to talk about in her campaign.

    If elected, Shin wants do more to help the Los Alamos National Laboratory safely accomplish its core mission of maintaining the country’s nuclear stockpile. She has read reports of LANL’s recent safety lapses.

    “We need to align ourselves with the concerns of the staff and the employees,” Shin said.
    One way Shin believes that could probably be accomplished is through a more independent review process.

  • End to government shutdown in sight as Dems halt filibuster

    By ALAN FRAM, ANDREW TAYLOR and ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress sped toward reopening the government late Monday as Democrats reluctantly voted to temporarily pay for resumed operations, relenting in return for Republican assurances that the Senate will soon take up the plight of young immigrant "dreamers" and other contentious issues.

    The vote set the stage for hundreds of thousands of federal workers to return on Tuesday, cutting short what could have become a messy and costly impasse. The House was expected to vote later in the day.

    But by relenting, the Democrats prompted a backlash from immigration activists and liberal base supporters who wanted them to fight longer and harder for legislation to protect from deportation the 700,000 or so younger immigrants who were brought to the country as children and now are here illegally.

    Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks. But there were deep divides in the Democratic caucus over strategy, as red-state lawmakers fighting for their survival broke with progressives looking to satisfy liberals' and immigrants' demands.

  • Federal workers frustrated by back-and-forth over shutdown

    By MATTHEW BARAKAT and RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — As Congress appeared ready to reopen the government Monday on the third day of a shutdown, some federal workers said they are frustrated over a political battle had put their jobs on hold and left them in limbo.

    J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers, said his members are exasperated that the inability of Congress and President Donald Trump to negotiate a budget led to the shutdown, which effectively cut the federal workforce in half Monday, as hundreds of thousands of workers were sent home.

    "We can't be the ball for the ping-pong game," Cox said Monday, after Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill in return for assurances from Republicans leaders that they will soon take up immigration and other hot-button issues.

    Before the government can reopen, the Senate must vote on final passage, the House must approve and Trump must sign the measure.

    "There's still a lot of confusion. There's still not a done deal. There's apprehension that this could still fall apart," Cox said.

  • Land commissioner urges state to halt oil drilling permits

    State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is asking Gov. Susana Martinez and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Ken McQueen to stop misappropriating revenue from the Oil and Gas Reclamation Fund and instead use the money for its intended purpose, which includes plugging abandoned oil and gas wells located on State Trust Lands.

    In a letter delivered Friday to Gov. Martinez and Secretary McQueen, Dunn urged the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) of EMNRD to cease issuing new drilling permits until the Division adopts a five-year plan for plugging and reclaiming the estimated 600 abandoned unplugged oil and gas wells on state trust lands.

    The Oil and Gas Reclamation Fund was established in 1977 and authorizes OCD to make expenditures for surveying, plugging, and restoring and remediating abandoned well sites and associated production facilities.  
    In Fiscal Year 2017, OCD used the fund to plug only one abandoned well on the lands.

    “Abandoned unplugged wells devalue State Trust Lands and impact revenues we earn for public schools, universities, hospitals, and other institutions supported by the State Land Office,” Dunn said.    

  • Parties reach agreement in N.M. rate case

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico’s largest electric utility and other parties are throwing their support behind a rate increase proposal adopted by state regulators.

    A divided Public Regulation Commission approved the revamped proposal earlier this week. It calls for spreading out a roughly 1 percent increase over two years.

    Public Service Co. of New Mexico estimates the average increase would be closer to 1.4 percent when other adjustments are factored in.

    The commission had set a deadline of noon Friday for the parties to sign off. With their acceptance, the contentious case is expected to be closed soon.

    Part of the negotiations among the utility, state attorney general’s office, consumer groups and others focused on coal-related investments. The federal tax overhaul also ended up playing a role as the utility plans to pass along savings from lower corporate tax rates.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Bill would allow spaceport to shield records

    Lawmakers are proposing to create a carve-out in the state’s open records law for Spaceport America that would allow it to keep secret any information about companies or government agencies blasting rockets from the Southern New Mexico site.

    The Spaceport Authority, which runs the $220 million public facility, has pushed in recent years to exempt part of its work from the Inspection of Public Records Act, arguing it needs to ensure at least some measure of confidentiality to high-tech aerospace companies that might be interested in doing business at the center near Truth or Consequences.

    Though boosters have pointed to the spaceport as a potential economic driver for the southern end of the state, its high cost has drawn criticism and raised concerns about proposals to shield information about its work or finances from the public.

    Transparency advocates argue that as long as taxpayers own the spaceport – and are still paying off its construction – the controversial facility’s records should remain open to the public. And the facility is already facing scrutiny for its handling of public records requests from journalists.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Martinez rebuffs speculation about post-term plans

    BY ANDREW OXFORD
    The New Mexican

    Guessing what Gov. Susana Martinez might do next after she leaves the state’s top elected office at the end of 2018 has become something of a parlor game in New Mexico politics.

    Just a few years ago, observers occasionally mentioned the two-term Republican as a potential vice-presidential nominee in 2016.

    Too late for that but might she run for U.S. Senate?

    “Why would I want to be one of 100?” she said Thursday.
    What about becoming a federal judge?

    Boring, the governor replied.

    At the end of a press conference in her cabinet room, Martinez invited reporters to toss out rumors about her next political move and proceeded to knock down one idea after another, seeming eager to address theories that have run rampant but leaving unanswered a big question that looms over New Mexico politics.

    The Republican’s political prospects were particularly bright just a few years ago. She led the Republican Governors Association and seemed to be just the woman the party needed to keep from working itself into a corner as a party for white men. But that was before the ascent of Donald Trump and a slide in her own approval ratings.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Groups protest for early childhood ed

    BY ANDREW OXFORD
    The New Mexican

    Lines of young children filed into the Roundhouse on Thursday wearing cowboy hats, bandanas and sheriff’s badges for another showdown of sorts over funding for early childhood education.

    The kids are likely to be outgunned politically as long as fiscally conservative Democrats hold sway in the state Senate.

    The 1,000 Kid March, as it is known, has turned into an annual event at the state Capitol – a bit of political theater that can feel downright Capraesque. It brings a visceral debate over how New Mexico’s oil and gas wealth should be used.

    The event’s organizers, the advocacy group Invest in Kids Now and the nonprofit Catholic Health Initiatives St. Joseph’s Children, argue the state should use an additional 1 percent of investment revenues from New Mexico’s multibillion-dollar Land Grant Permanent Fund each year to boost early childhood education programs -- an amount that would start at about $140 million annually and grow from there.

    Funded with revenue from oil and gas production on state trust lands, the endowment now totals about $17 billion; 5 percent of its investment revenues already go to the state’s public education system.

  • Government shutdown begins and so does the finger-pointing

    By ZEKE MILLER, ANDREW TAYLOR and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans awoke Saturday to learn that quarreling politicians in Washington had failed to keep their government in business, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

    It was a striking display of Washington dysfunction, and the finger-pointing came quickly. Trump tweeted that Democrats "wanted to give me a nice present" to mark the start of his second year in office.

    The Republican-controlled Congress scheduled an unusual weekend session to begin considering a three-week version of a short-term spending measure and to broadcast to the people they serve that they were at work as the closure commenced. It seemed likely that each side would push for votes aimed at making the other party look culpable for shuttering federal agencies.

    Trump spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell early Saturday to discuss next steps, while chief of staff John Kelly also worked the phones. Top White House negotiators, legislative affairs director Marc Short and budget director Mick Mulvaney, went to Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans.

  • LANL on regular schedule

    Los Alamos National Laboratory will operate without restrictions or closures Monday, regardless of what happens with the federal government shutdown, officials said Friday.

    “All DOE federal employees are expected to report to work on your next scheduled work day and subsequent work days unless you have previously approved leave or are given formal notice by your management not to report to work,” said DOE Press Secretary Shaylyn Hynes. “Similarly, contractors should continue to execute on contracts unless and until otherwise notified.”

    According to the Department of Energy’s Lapse of Appropriations Plan, in the event of a shutdown, the Los Alamos National Laboratory would continue its operations using fund balances from prior years, if they are available.

    If there are no available balances, only programs related to the safety of human life and the protection of property would continue.