June 4 First News: Compromise Agreed To; Governor Calls Special Legislative Session (Listen)
After weeks of stalemate and negotiations between legislative leaders and Governor Susana Martinez’s staff, a compromise has been hammered-out for a special legislative session to vote on a 295-million dollar capital outlay bill and other projects. Deming Democrat, Senator John Arthur Smith says the special session will open on Monday. *****060415-Smith-4 :17*****
Smith, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, says he’s pleased with the package of compromises leading to the special legislative session. Smith described the last four days of negotiations that led to compromise with the executive branch as “intense but cordial.” *****060415-Smith-3 :34***** The proposal to be acted on appropriates 300-thousand dollars in supplemental funding for the Administrative Office of the Courts. Another four-million will address urgent needs at the Department of Health.
New Mexico’s prisons chief Gregg Marcantel has ordered a lockdown of the state's 11 prisons as part of an unannounced hunt for contraband. The department says the lockdown is part of an annual event to shakedown every housing unit, cell, and inmate for the search. Officials say the lockdown has no scheduled end date but will be lifted as each facility completes the required searches and security assessments. In recent years, correction officials says inmates and their families have tried to smuggle Suboxone into prisons using various methods such as on the back of stamps or children's coloring books. Marcantel says the lockdowns are part of periodic reviews aimed at safety and reducing recidivism rates.
A Navajo Nation referendum election on whether to effectively scrap a requirement that candidates for tribal president and vice president speak the Navajo language fluently has been rescheduled to July 21st. According to The Daily Times in Farmington, Navajo Election Administration -Executive Director Edison Wauneka says the date was changed from June ninth because the Navajo Nation Council for a time considered placing additional questions on the ballot, which it ultimately didn't. Voters will decide whether a candidate's ability to speak and understand Navajo and English would be determined by voters when they cast ballots. The fluency issue spurred controversy last year when candidate Chris Deschene was disqualified as a presidential candidate after he refused to take a test on his ability to speak Navajo fluently.
U.S. Air Force contractors have finished drilling the first of several wells that will make up a pump-and-treat system designed to clean up a massive plume of jet fuel at the edge of New Mexico's largest city. State and federal officials said Wednesday that the temporary treatment system at Kirtland Air Force Base is on track to begin operating around the end of the month.
The system will be capable of treating about 100 gallons per minute. That will increase as more extraction wells are drilled. The Air Force discovered the fuel leak in 1999. It contaminated groundwater and is believed to have been seeping into the ground for decades. In January, the state Environment Department began fining the Air Force five-thousand dollars a day for not having the treatment system in place.
A Taos Pueblo man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and assault in a car crash that killed one passenger in his vehicle last year and seriously injured another. Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Keith E. Lucero entered his plea Wednesday in an Albuquerque court without a plea- agreement. Lucero was arrested last July in connection with a car accident in El Prado. An indictment alleged that Lucero was driving under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred last March . Prosecutors say Lucero could be facing up to a 10-year federal prison term when he's sentenced. A federal judge will determine the sentence. Lucero has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
A wildfire near Silver City in southwestern New Mexico is in the mop-up stage. The Bureau of Land Management said the fire is at 65 acres with fire lines around 80 percent of its perimeter as of Wednesday. The fire previously had been estimated at 100 acres. The fire is located on Treasure Mountain on BLM land approximately six miles northwest of Silver City, burning primarily grass and pinyon juniper. No structures are threatened, and the BLM said some personnel assigned to the fire are being released. Remaining personnel will continue work on containment lines.
Authorities say searches of two vehicles in an investigation of an alleged fraud and identity-theft ring in Dona Ana County found large amounts of cash. The Sheriff's Office says thousands of dollars of cash turned up in searches conducted late Tuesday night of vehicles allegedly belonging to two of the seven defendants in the case. Four of the defendants are employees of the County Clerk's Office. According to authorities, members of the ring are accused of identity theft to fraudulently obtain and cash tax refund checks.
It took a jury 15 minutes to decide on a case that took 26 years to go to trial. The case involved a 13-year-old girl who was raped in her home after- school by a masked man. The Albuquerque Journal reports the jury convicted 58-year-old Joseph Blea on Tuesday. Blea had been accused of raping the girl in her living room while her mother was at work. Police investigated and the girl had been examined at University of New Mexico Hospital, where a rape kit was used. It wasn't until 2010 that forensic analysis of the sperm cells collected led to a search warrant for Blea. Blea's attorneys say he has actively been researching the statute of limitations. His sentencing is scheduled for Monday.
Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high near 83. Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 53. Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 79, and a 30-percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
In National News….
WASHINGTON (AP) — The biggest opponents of President Barack Obama's make-or-break push for expanded trade are members of his own party in the House, which could vote on so-called fast track authority as early as next week. The bill barely cleared the Senate and Obama is meeting stiff resistance in the House. Bitter memories remain of the 1995 North American Free Trade Agreement.
ADDISON, Texas (AP) — Rick Perry is expected to add his name to the list of Republican presidential candidates today. A senior adviser says the former Texas governor will tell supporters in Dallas this afternoon that he's making a second run for the White House. He has already spent more time than of the other Republican candidates in Iowa, the state that kicks off presidential nomination voting.