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June 9 First News: One-Day N. M. Special Legislative Session Sees Approval Of Key Bills (Listen)

The New Mexico House and Senate adjourned Monday afternoon after passing three key bills during a special session on capital funding, tax incentives and providing needed funds to a couple of state agencies. The capital measure bill funds 295-million dollars’ worth of public works projects statewide. Also approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the GOP- majority House was a package of tax incentives. A third bill provides supplemental funding to two state agencies—state courts and the state Department of Health—that were facing shortfalls. Lawmakers came together for the special session following weeks of private negotiations and calls from business leaders to end the partisan bickering and pass the proposals. Officials say among other things, the capital package—also known as “pork”— increases funding for senior centers and higher education institutions around the state. While Governor Susana Martinez promises to sign all three bills, she made clear her plans to review the individual line-items in the pork bill, where some projects could be vetoed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a pilot with the Wildlife Services program and a state wildlife specialist died when their plane crashed in northeastern New Mexico. The agency says pilot Kelly Hobbs and Shannon "Bubba" Tunnell of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture were the only two aboard the single-engine plane when it went down early Friday near Raton. Officials confirmed Monday that Hobbs and Tunnell were on a mission to curb damage caused by wildlife in Colfax County. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. Hobbs had been a pilot with the federal program since 1992, and had worked in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Tunnell had been a specialist with the state since 2009 and had extensive training in aerial predator management.

Santa Fe County will be hosting a community open house tomorrow night to review the Chimayó Community Plan. A news release says the plan will be a guide for future development, land use, community facilities, projects and programs for the Chimayó area. The open house will be held at the Bennie J-Chavez Center in Chimayó. Following the open house, the Chimayó Community Plan will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners of Santa Fe County at two public hearings to be considered for adoption as an amendment to the Santa Fe County Sustainable Growth Management Plan.  

Starting today, the New Mexico Department of Transportation begins pavement work on the I-25 East Frontage Road from State 599—the WIPP relief route—to the Waldo Canyon Interchange. NMDOT maintenance crews will be doing pavement preservation work.  It’s expected to last until June 18th.  The D-O-T says motorists can expect minor delays from eight-to-five weekdays. Also beginning today, the same Frontage road will be closed from La Cienega to Waldo Canyon. On Thursday, there will be one-lane closures with a flagger and pilot car operation escort.  The roadway will temporarily have loose gravel and no center stripe through the work zone. 

A lightning-sparked brush fire that began near the Barillas Lookout Tower in the Santa Fe National Forest has charred about 25-acres. The tower is east of Pecos and west of Mineral Hill. The New Mexican reports the Commissary Fire isn’t threatening any homes or structures, and fire crews might manage the fire so it burns out forest undergrowth, which can help overall forest health. A Type-one Hotshot crew is monitoring the blaze.

Two Bernalillo water utility employees have lost their jobs as a result of the dumping of 6 million gallons of partly treated sewage into the Rio Grande in February. Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority Chief Operating Officer John Stomp tells the Albuquerque Journal the spill occurred because of a lack of system maintenance. He says an electrical supervisor was fired, a superintendent retired in lieu of termination and other disciplinary action may be taken. Officials say a power surge knocked out power to a pump station on February 27th and a sewer-lift station at the Southside Water Reclamation Plant. After power was restored to the lift station, the pump station did not come back on line, causing partly treated sewage to overflow.

Santa Fe Weather: Partly sunny today with a 40-percent chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms, today’s high reaching 79. Tonight: Mostly cloudy with the overnight low 55 and a 40-percent chance for showers. Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with the chance for precipitation at 60-percent, and the high tomorrow hitting 81.