Today's News

  • 2018 State Legislature: Can cannabis treat opioid addiction? Lawmakers think not

    By Daniel J. Chacon

    The New Mexican

    New Mexico lawmakers injected a dose of political pressure Monday into an unwavering but so far unsuccessful effort to add opioid use disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in New Mexico.

    State Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, both Democrats from Las Cruces, held a news conference at the Roundhouse to bring attention to companion memorials they are sponsoring, calling on Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher to allow people with opioid dependence to obtain medical marijuana to help them break the chains of their addiction.

    "It is past time that this secretary do this," Steinborn said. "People are dying every day in the state of New Mexico from opioid abuse, and medical marijuana has proven to be a safer treatment for any underlying conditions and certainly, hopefully, to step people down from opioid addiction into something safer that won't kill them."

    Twice, the state Medical Cannabis Program's advisory board has recommended medical marijuana be allowed as a treatment for opioid addiction.

    Gallagher, however, has the final say.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative roundup Feb. 12, 2018

    The New Mexican

    Days remaining in the session: 3

    White flag: Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, conceded Monday that his proposed constitutional amendment for automatic voter registration is dead.

    The Senate Rules Committee was ready to hear Ivey-Soto's proposal when he admitted defeat, telling the committee chairwoman to skip it.

    Ivey-Soto's proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 5, would have required the state to ensure that all qualified electors are registered to vote for each election.

    Consensus on crime: The Senate will get a vote on a sweeping, bipartisan piece of crime legislation that would toughen penalties for violent felons caught in possession of a firearm and ensure that a series of minor, nonviolent crimes no longer carry the risk of jail terms.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved House Bill 19, sending to the Senate floor what has emerged as the consensus criminal justice legislation of the session.

    The measures also would expand access to behavioral health services for jail inmates, provide bonuses for some police officers and stiffen requirements that drunken-driving offenders must satisfy before having an ignition interlock device removed from their vehicle.

  • Nordic ski club dominates in Colorado

    Despite generally low snow this winter, Southwest Nordic Ski Club was lucky to have two different events within reasonable driving distance on the same day and fielded 27 racers between the two venues.

    The larger group headed to Crested Butte, Colorado, for their famous and colorful Alley Loop races now in its 32nd year.

    The distances for Alley Loop range from 1.5K all the way to marathon distance of 42K. Typically all courses start and finish on Main Street and snake through town’s quaint alleys giving the event it’s name.  

    This year, due to lower snow, the race started at the Nordic Center but longer courses were still able to ski through alleys in town. Racers, as well as spectators, dress up in costumes and celebrate the event all day along the course making for colorful and fun photos of the event.

    In the 1.5K race, SWNSC girls swept the podium with Anna Simakov (age 8) in first, Harper Reid (age 7) in second and Samantha Baily (age 6) in third. Liv Niklasson (age 8) raced as well but forgot to put on her timing chip. Her finish would’ve also placed her on the podium had she been counted in the timing.

  • Aggies continue winning ways

    Balanced scoring and another 20-rebound night from Jemerrio Jones saw the New Mexico State men’s basketball team overpower CSU Bakersfield Thursday night 69-43 at the Pan American Center. The win pushed Aggie win-streak to 10-straight with an overall record of 21-3 and 8-0 mark in Western Athletic Conference play.

    Jones, who finished with six points and 20 rebounds for the second-consecutive game, added three assists and two steals to his line while Zach Lofton recorded a game-high 14 points.

    The last and only time an Aggie tallied 20 rebounds in back-to-back games was Sam Lacey during the Final Four year (1969-70). He did so against Montana State and Air Force.

    New Mexico State started the game off a little slow on the offensive end, hitting just 29-percent of its shots. 

    The visiting Runners led for short spurts in the first 10 minutes before the Aggie offense woke up out of the media timeout with 7:10 left in the half.

    CSUB scored first out of the break, but it was all NMSU after that thanks to a 13-4 run to end the half for the 31-18 advantage.

    During that stretch, the Aggies scored 10-straight, despite shooting 0-for-8 from the floor, thanks to their 11-of-11 shooting from the line.

  • Canada leads after opening day of figure skating team event

    Patrick Chan stood emotionless in the middle of the ice after a shaky short program, one the three-time world champion thought had doomed Canada’s chances in the team event at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

    His teammates picked him up in more ways than one.

    Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford responded with a strong pairs program to cover Chan’s missteps and give Canada the lead over the United States, while the rest of the squad lifted his outlook considerably with the positive way they greeted him when he finally skated off the ice.

    “It’s hard for figure skaters to think outside, and not think of individual performances,” Chan said. “The reaction when I got off the ice made me go from being poor to being fun and lighthearted, and I thought we carried that energy over to the pairs.”

    The powerhouse Canadian squad, which is expected to challenge the Russians for the gold medal, finished with 17 points on the opening day of the figure skating program. The U.S. wound up with 14 points, followed by Japan and the Russians with 13 points apiece.

  • Atomic City Update: District tiebreakers seem unfair for high school athletes

    One of the most confusing aspects of high school sports are the tiebreakers in postseason play, which are often hard for anyone to understand, and don’t always seem completely fair.

    This is especially concerning as the winter sports season draws to a close, with the regular season in basketball set to end next week. With district races as close as ever around New Mexico, many of the tiebreaker scenarios could come into play, and could end up having a significant impact on the state tournament.

    One of the oddest things about this tiebreaker system is that the rules are different if the tie occurs between the No. 1 and No. 2 seed than if the tie occurs between any other seeds.

    In the event that the top two seeds are tied, a winner-take-all playoff game determines the No. 1 seed, which gets a pass directly to the district championship game.

    However, if the tie occurs between lower seeds, or if more than two teams are tied, then an entirely different system is used: point differential.

  • Heinrich presses NNSA nominee on plutonium pit plan

    Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) Thursday pressed Undersecretary of Energy for Nuclear Security nominee Lisa Gordon-Hagerty on a National Nuclear Security Administration report that’s considering moving the Department of Energy’s plutonium pit manufacturing program out of Los Alamos.

    The questioning occurred during Gordon-Hagerty’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Heinrich is a member of the committee.

    Heinrich questioned why the NNSA seemed to be ignoring Congress’s most recent recommendations to keep it at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    He asked Gordon-Hagerty why the NNSA seemed to be ignoring a 2014 endorsement by the Nuclear Weapons Council and Congress of the use of a modular building strategy to update the LANL’s plutonium pit manufacturing program.

    “However, recently, and you alluded to this earlier, the NNSA conducted an analysis of alternatives that totally omitted this current strategy to meet the nation’s needs, and instead compared new alternatives that Los Alamos actually abandoned years ago. Does that make sense to you, that we would analyze an old plan when we have a new plan that’s already been effectively endorsed by the NWC and Congress?” Heinrich asked.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Governor: No pay raises for statewide elected officials


    By Steve Terrell

    The New Mexican

    While the state House of Representatives recently passed a budget that would give most state employees a 2 percent raise, the state Senate on a bi-partisan vote Friday moved to give the next governor, lieutenant governor and other elected state officials a 10 percent raise.

    But only minutes after the vote a spokesman for the current governor, Susana Martinez, basically said Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, is dead in the water.

    "This bill doles out raises for politicians and costs $67,000," spokesman Larry Behrens said in a tweet. "That money should go to our police and corrections officers. This bill will be vetoed."

    Smith told senators that statewide elected officials have not received a pay raise since 2002. He noted that the chiefs of staff and other top deputies of various state officials make significantly more than their elected bosses.

    "The state treasurer makes about $50,000 less than his deputy treasurer," Smith said. In the Governor's Office, Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner is paid more than $36,000 more than Martinez.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Senate committee agrees to more police pay, DA funds

    By Andrew Oxford

    The New Mexican

    A Senate committee bent Saturday to calls by Gov. Susana Martinez for more funding for state police pay and the District Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, as well as calls from some fellow lawmakers to restore at least some of the funding cut from school districts last year.

    In announcing its version of the budget passed by the state House of Representatives late last month, the Senate Finance Committee seemed intent on maintaining the tenuous peace that has set in at the Roundhouse in the wake of the partisan clashes of the last few years.

    The budget would amount to about $6.3 billion and, according to the Senate Finance Committee, leave reserves around 10 percent. It would amount to about a 4 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year.

    The House passed its version of the spending plan by a vote of 65-3 on Jan. 31. But aides to Martinez were quick to call it "soft on crime."

    And the Senate Finance Committee's version would ratchet up a few of the pay raises approved by the House.

    State police and corrections officers would see an 8.5 percent pay increase instead of 6.5 percent.

    The Martinez administration had argued the House budget did not do enough to address public safety, a priority amid rising crime rates.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative roundup, Feb. 11, 2018

    The New Mexican

    Days remaining in session: 5

    Fender bender: Legislators hear from constituents on all manner of issues.

    But several lawmakers said Saturday they had gotten more emails about a proposal to require two license plates on each vehicle than about any other piece of legislation this year.

    The inconvenience seemed to outweigh the potential public safety benefits as the House voted down the idea by a vote of 27-38.

    Sponsored by Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, a Democrat and former Albuquerque Police Department officer, House Bill 158 would have raised the vehicle registration fee by $2 a year starting in 2018 and require a front-end license plate starting in 2022.

    New Mexico is one of 19 states that require only a single license plate on each vehicle. And as crime has risen, Ruiloba has argued the bill is a commonsense measure to address crime.

    Backers, including the New Mexico State Police, argue the requirement would help law enforcement identify vehicles involved in crimes.

    Still, others questioned the merits of raising the fee and about the hassle for New Mexicans who do not currently have a place on their vehicles for a front license plate.

    And there is no accounting for taste, as they say.