Ex-legislators file to return to New Mexico House
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Six former legislators are running to regain seats in the New Mexico House.
Former Republican Rep. Conrad James of Albuquerque filed for office Tuesday as did former Reps. Richard Vigil, a Ribera Democrat; Bengie Regensberg, a Cleveland Democrat; Andrew Barreras, a Belen Democrat; Ricky Little, a Chaparral Republican; and Andy Nunez of Hatch, who's running as a Republican.
Nunez served in the House as a Democrat and later as an independent before losing re-election in 2012.
Ten incumbent House members are retiring from the 70-member House.
In Public Regulation Commission races, Republican incumbent Ben Hall of Ruidoso faces three Democratic challengers, including ex-Commissioner Sandy Jones.
Democratic Commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar of Albuquerque has two primary election opponents, including ex-Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy of Crownpoint.
Republican Commissioner Pat Lyons is unopposed for re-election.
CHILD ABUSE PLEA
Pine Hill man pleads guilty to child abuse charge
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Pine Hill man has pleaded guilty to a federal child abuse charge in New Mexico.
Prosecutors say 32-year-old Harold Martinez entered his plea Tuesday.
He's been in federal custody since his arrest last November. His sentencing hearing hasn't been scheduled yet, but prosecutors say Martinez is facing up to three years in prison.
According to a criminal complaint, Martinez got into a physical confrontation with another Navajo man and stabbed him on June 11, 2013.
The victim got into his vehicle in an effort to get away. Authorities say Martinez rammed his vehicle into the victim's vehicle several times.
Two young boys were in Martinez's vehicle at the time and weren't wearing seat belts.
Neither child was injured but Martinez was accused of endangering their lives or health.
Linda Lopez plans to stay in governor's race
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque says she plans to stay in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Lopez failed to earn an automatic place on the June primary election ballot because she didn't receive 20 percent of the vote from delegates at the party's pre-primary nominating convention.
Lopez said in a statement Tuesday that her campaign is gathering additional nominating petition signatures needed to secure a place on the ballot.
Lopez said she's received calls from supporters urging her to continue her candidacy.
Attorney General Gary King also has said he's staying in the governor's race despite finishing last at the convention.
Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City received the most support, followed by Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber and Lawrence Rael.
NEW MEXICO-TEXAS-WATER FIGHT
King accuses feds of trying to siphon NM water
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says the federal government has sided with Texas in an effort to take the state's groundwater.
King responded Tuesday to a motion by the government to intervene in a dispute over management of the Rio Grande. Texas first took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court more than a year ago.
New Mexico maintains it is meeting its water delivery obligations to Texas.
But the federal government alleges groundwater pumping in New Mexico is tapping the shallow aquifer that would otherwise drain back into the Rio Grande and flow to Texas.
In the latest court filing, King claims groundwater is a separate source of water from the Rio Grande Project, which provides farmers in southern New Mexico and Texas with irrigation water.
Feds to keep employees of closed nuke dump working
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - The Department of Energy has approved a plan to keep all employees at southeastern New Mexico's underground nuclear waste dump working while officials determine what caused a radiation release.
The DOE said in a press release Tuesday that it had signed off on a plan to keep all the 650-plus workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project on the job.
DOE Carlsbad Field Officer manager Joe Franco says the employees will be retrained as necessary to help investigate what caused the radiation release and to work on recovery and remediation efforts.
The repository has been closed since a truck caught fire in one of its tunnels early last month. Nine days later, there was a radiation release. Officials say at least 17 workers were exposed to low levels of radiations.
NUKE REPOSITORY-WASTE CORRECTION
Los Alamos studying alternatives for toxic waste
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - With the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump shuttered by a mysterious leak, Los Alamos National Laboratory has begun looking at alternatives for getting toxic waste off its campus.
Lab spokesman Matthew Nerzig confirmed Tuesday that officials have begun looking at options if the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad remains closed indefinitely.
The presence of that waste, stored outside with little protection, came to the public's attention three years ago as a massive wildfire lapped at the edges of the sprawling lab property.
The lab has since agreed to have it all removed from the mesa by the end of June. The lab was ahead of schedule for getting the nearly 4,000 barrels to WIPP when back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release, closed the repository last month.
NM governor to sign water spending legislation
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez is signing a spending measure Tuesday that includes $89 million for infrastructure projects aimed at securing drinking water resources for communities around New Mexico.
Martinez says she's disappointed lawmakers didn't allocate more for water projects as the state continues to wrestle with severe drought.
Her administration had asked for at least 60 percent of capital outlay funds - or more than $110 million - to be spent on such projects.
The governor says having clean drinking water in New Mexico is a necessity for well-being as well as economic development.
The northern community of Las Vegas is among those to benefit from the funds. The city will receive $10 million to significantly expand the capacity of its reservoir, which will allow the community to weather the drought.
LAWMAKER PER-DIEM PAYMENTS
Las Cruces lawmaker to return per-diem payments
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A Las Cruces lawmaker who missed the recent legislative session while recovering from surgery plans to return several thousand dollars he collected in per-diem payments.
State Rep. Phillip Archuleta says that during the 30-day session, he was recuperating from having his right leg amputated in January.
He's staying in a facility for physical rehabilitation in Albuquerque.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Archuleta faced criticism because he continued to receive the $159 per-diem payments and 56 cents-per-mile travel reimbursement.
Lawmakers are entitled to those payments during the Legislature for costs such as housing and food.
Archuleta says he wasn't aware the payments were continuing to be made to him until a family member alerted him.
The Democrat also says he plans to seek re-election to the District 36 House seat.
Gov. Susana Martinez signs $6B state budget
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a $6 billion state budget but cut spending about $27 million with line-item vetoes.
The governor signed the measure on Tuesday but eliminated $2.4 million that would have provided pay raises for judges, district attorneys and appointed government workers.
Martinez also eliminated $15 million for public schools because she said the money isn't needed until 2016 when newly enacted changes in the state's school funding formula take effect.
The governor also vetoed $4 million for a college endowment fund. Lawmakers didn't overhaul the fund as requested by Martinez to make colleges compete for the money and target it to recruiting professors in critical areas such as math and science.
The budget, as signed by the governor, provides for a 4.3 percent spending increase next year
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