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Today's News

  • US hits record for costly weather disasters

    The U.S. had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding a billion dollars, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005.

    Costs are adjusted for inflation and NOAA keeps track of billion-dollar weather disasters going back to 1980.

    Three of the five most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history hit last year.

    Hurricane Harvey, which caused massive flooding in Texas, cost $125 billion, second only to 2005’s Katrina, while Maria’s damage in Puerto Rico cost $90 billion, ranking third, NOAA said. Irma was $50 billion, mainly in Florida, for the fifth most expensive hurricane.

    Western wildfires fanned by heat racked up $18 billion in damage, triple the U.S. wildfire record, according to NOAA.

    Besides Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina all had more than $1 billion in damage from the 16 weather disasters in 2017.

  • Colon to run for state auditor

    Colon announced his bid in a statement late Sunday. Colon says he is running because he is “fed up” and wants to ensure taxpayer money goes to the right places. He says his background in finance and law make him the right candidate.

  • Snow predicted for morning commute

    The morning commute Wednesday may include rain and snow, with a chance of it turning to all snow by 9 a.m.
    Meteorologists from the National Weather Service, Albuquerque said commuters should expect rain quickly changing over to snow between 5-9 a.m. Wednesday.
    Meteorologists are forecasting one-half inch to three inches of snow the farther west one goes in Los Alamos County. The Jemez Mountains can expect as much as six to 10 inches.
    Wind is also expected, which could limit visibility.
    Meteorologist Clay Anderson added that’s basically it for a while though March may hold a surprise or two.
    “When you look at the climatological records, some of the biggest snowstorms around here happen in March,” Anderson said. “Just because it doesn’t look good now or as we get into February, doesn’t mean things can’t change.”
    As for fire season, things may be busy if there’s no snow in March. It could mean a longer season, especially in the forested areas, because so far, there’s no melting snow pack, according to Anderson.
    “It’s just a bad combination for the fire season,” Anderson said. “…I think it would be wise for people to prepare for a long and busy fire season.”

  • Medicaid, tax reform, court services priorities for legislative session

    In a forum hosted by the New Mexico Attorney Richard Minzner and the State Bar of New Mexico, state Reps. Nate Gentry (R-Bernalillo) and Antonio “Moe” Maestas, (D-Bernalillo) gave the association a preview Friday of what to expect for the 30-day legislative session that starts Jan. 15.

    The lawmakers covered hot topics, including the gross receipts tax, New Mexico’s crime rate and Medicai.

    The only bills being considered in the legislative agenda are financial bills, taxes and appropriations, and bills sent by the governor.

    The Legislative Finance Committee recommends spending $6.26 billion from the state’s general fund for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which starts July 1. This would be a 2.9 percent increase from last year’s FY18 budget.

    Gov. Susana Martinez also released her priorities, which included spending $6.23 billion from the state’s general fund for 2018-19.

    According to Gentry, the state received about $200 million in new money since the last budget, which represents just under a 3-percent increase over the fiscal 2018 budget.

    “It’s welcome news,” Gentry said. “We had to make some very significant cuts, a couple hundred million dollars over the last two years to the state budget.”

  • BPU to mull smart meters for LA County

    Smart meters for electricity, gas and water may be installed throughout homes and businesses in Los Alamos County if the Department of Public Utilities gets approval from the Board of Public Utilities and County Council.

    DPU officials are set to appear before the Board of Public Utilities Jan. 17 with a contract from a company that will change out about 8,000 existing electric meters for smart meters. 

    The company will also install “communication modules” on 14,000 gas and water meters throughout the county. If the contract is approved by the BPU and then by County Council on Jan. 30, installation of the meters would begin in June or July in White Rock.

    The project is expected to take about 18 months to finish, according to DPU spokeswoman Julie Williams-Hill.

    The work will also include taking out previously installed smart meters installed on Barranca Mesa and North Mesa by another company, Landis and Gyr.

    When the system is up and running, the DPU and its customers will have a better idea of energy usage, Williams-Hill said.

    Customers will be able to monitor their usage online or through a phone app, Williams-Hill said. The DPU will be able to monitor usage for each customer.

  • New Mexico state lawmaker seeks to block border wall

    SANTA FE (AP) — A New Mexico state lawmaker is seeking legislation to obstruct plans for a new border wall by the Trump administration.

    Democratic Rep. Bill McCamley of Mesilla Park in southern New Mexico said Tuesday that he will introduce legislation that prohibits the use of state land in the construction of a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    President Donald Trump's administration has proposed spending $18 billion over 10 years to significantly extend the border wall with Mexico. The New Mexico State Land Office oversees a patchwork of land holdings along the state's southern border with Mexico.

    Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has discretion over whether McCamley's proposal can be heard during a 30-day legislative session that begins Jan. 16, and it was unclear if she would allow it.
     

  • State Republican Party announces several changes Tuesday

    The Republican Party of New Mexico announced several personnel changes Tuesday.
    Ryan Gleason was hired to serve as the state party’s new executive director. Gleason served as a legislative analyst for the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2001 after graduating from the Texas Tech School of Law and Texas Tech Graduate School, with a master of Public Administration. Gleason then spent three years as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) in Washington, D.C., where he worked with the justice and the judiciary, homeland security, commerce, taxes and the federal budget.
    Gleason has also served as the state director of USDA Rural Development. After two years working for the Texoma Council of Governments as the Government Services director, Gleason returned to New Mexico to work again for the state House of Representatives as legislative counsel during the 2011 Special Session on redistricting. Gleason was selected to be the Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House Don Tripp where he oversaw all House operations and has served as the senior legislative and policy advisor to the Republican Caucus.
    Michael Horanburg serve as the deputy executive director and director of outreach and political operations. Horanburg has worked in New Mexico politics for 10 years in various campaign and consulting capacities.

  • New Mexico AG seeks more info for solar panel customers

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Attorney General's Office is hoping a new disclosure form will provide more information for customers considering rooftop solar.

    Attorney General Hector Balderas released the new form last week, saying it was created in collaboration with the solar industry, consumer groups and regulators.

    He said it's aimed at making more understandable the complex terms that are often associated with distributed electricity generation, which includes rooftop solar systems, and power purchase agreements or leases.

    The attorney general's office said it is also interested in hearing from non-English-speaking consumers regarding their experience in buying or leasing solar power systems or entering into purchase power agreements.

    The form can be found here.

  • Couple with pot gifts again arrested in Nebraska

    YORK, Neb. (AP) — A California couple arrested in Nebraska last month for carrying 60 pounds of marijuana they described as family Christmas gifts have again been arrested in Nebraska, this time on suspicion of carrying drug money.

    The Lincoln Journal Star reports that 80-year-old Patrick Jiron and his 70-year-old wife, Barbara, were arrested Tuesday along Interstate 80 in northeast Nebraska. They were arrested last month along the same roadway — in the same vehicle — just two counties west.

    Lancaster County sheriff's officials say the couple were passengers in a pickup truck where deputies found a duffel bag carrying $18,000 in cash and notes consistent with marijuana sales.

    When the Jirons were arrested in York County on Dec. 19, they said they didn't know it was illegal to transport marijuana through Nebraska.

    Online court documents don't list attorneys for the Jirons.
     

  • Science Fair at Barranca Mesa