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Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Senate committee leader plans a hearing during the upcoming legislative session on the awarding by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration of a state fairgrounds lease for a horse racing track and casino.

Rules Committee chairwoman Sen. Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat who is running for governor against Martinez, said yesterday the panel wants to question current and former State Fair commissioners about the 2011 lease awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque allowing the construction of a larger casino at the fairgrounds.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Congress has again cut funding for inspections at horse slaughterhouses, the latest blow to efforts to resume horse slaughter in the U.S.

Congress yesterday passed a $1.1 trillion budget bill that prohibits the Department of Agriculture from spending money for inspectors at equine facilities.

The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress first cut funding for the inspections in an attempt to shutter the industry.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A plateful of problems, including a weak economy and struggling schools, await New Mexico's lawmakers when they to return to work for an election-year legislative session.

The Legislature's 30-day session convenes Tuesday against a potentially divisive political backdrop.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is seeking re-election, and two of her Democratic challengers serve in the state Senate. All 70 members of the state House are up for election.

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The family of a 12-year-old New Mexico boy who police say opened fire inside his middle school gym is heartbroken over the tragedy.

The boy's parents and grandparents issued a statement through their lawyer yesterday, saying their thoughts and prayers are with the two children who were shot Tuesday at Berrendo Middle School.

The family says its remorse cannot be expressed in words. They added that they love the boy and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as they piece together "how this awful tragedy occurred."

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new geothermal plant located in southwestern New Mexico is providing electricity to PNM Resources, the state's largest utility.

The Lightning Dock plant constructed in Hidalgo County by Cyrq (serk) Energy Inc. pumps naturally hot water from deep under the ground to heat a fluid that spins turbines to produce electricity.

The slightly cooled water is then re-injected back into the aquifer.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the plant began production in late December and is generating about 4 megawatts of electricity.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Family members and legal guardians of developmentally disabled New Mexicans have sued Gov. Susana Martinez's administration over cuts in services.

A lawsuit was filed in federal court yesterday to restore the services lost by individuals and stop the administration from continuing with changes to control costs in a Medicaid-funded program serving about 4,000 people.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque mother has been indicted on several charges after police say she repeatedly kicked her 9-year-old son, resulting in his death.

Prosecutors announced the indictment of 38-year-old Synthia Varela-Casaus yesterday. A formal arraignment has yet to be scheduled.

A grand jury handed up the charges Tuesday. They include one count of child abuse resulting in death, five counts of child abuse and one count of tampering with evidence.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe grand jury has found New Mexico State Police were justified in last year's fatal shooting of a woman after a car chase.

Jeanette Anaya was shot in the head and back after police say she aggressively backed her car toward an officer in November.

Medical examiners determined the 39-year-old Santa Fe woman had cocaine in her system at the time.

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says a boy shot by a classmate at their middle school underwent a second surgery and a girl who was wounded is now in stable condition.

Martinez said at a press conference late yesterday that the girl has been identified as 13-year-old Kendal Sanders. The wounded boy is in critical condition.

Authorities say the two were shot when a 12-year-old boy opened fire at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell yesterday morning.

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — A man convicted of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint before pointing a weapon at Clovis police has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Prosecutors say 25-year-old Paul Villanueva was sentenced yesterday and will serve at least 85 percent of his term.

Villanueva will be required to register as a lifetime sex offender and must serve up to 20 years of intensely supervised probation and lifetime parole.

He had faced up to a 70-year sentence after being convicted in the case.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man who rammed a vehicle into an Albuquerque police car and then barricaded himself in a home now is in custody.

Albuquerque police say 23-year-old Jonathan Zottnieck climbed out of a window and was arrested behind the home yesterday afternoon.

They say he's facing multiple charges including suspicion of aggravated assault on a peace officer and residential burglary.

Police originally responded to a call about a suspicious situation near Richmond and Indian School about 11:20 a.m.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say they don't know where a domestic violence suspect is following a fire that burned an Albuquerque mobile home.

Albuquerque police say they've issued an arrest warrant for 27-year-old Joel Castillo-Angel.

They say he's facing multiple charges in connection with yesterday morning's incident.

Police say two victims have been identified and say Castillo-Angel allegedly attacked them with a knife.

He was believed to be inside a mobile home that went up in flames for unknown reasons.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New government figures show that older New Mexicans account for the largest share of those who've enrolled in health coverage plans through a federally operated insurance exchange.

President Barack Obama's administration reported Monday that 7,688 New Mexicans had selected an insurance plan using the government-run marketplace through last month.

New Mexicans ages 35 to 64 represented about 74 percent of enrollment. However, that age group accounts for not quite 40 percent of the state's population.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police say 10 young women swarmed into a clothing store to steal goods and then ran outside and threw rocks at windows of the store after one was caught.

The thieves were shoving clothes and shoes into their purses while two of them tried to distract store personnel.

Police say a store employee suspected something was wrong and called police while the theft was in progress.

The young women started to run out but one was detained by store personnel and later arrested by police.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It could be 30 years before a huge plume of contamination at Kirtland Air Force Base reaches the nearest drinking water wells in New Mexico's largest city.

That finding is part of a draft report released yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to a public records request filed by the watchdog group Citizen Action.

The report's author, Scott Ellinger, modeled several scenarios in an effort to determine movement of the plume, which consists of jet fuel and a chemical called EDB.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico judge will decide Friday whether a Roswell company can move ahead with plans for slaughtering horses.

State District Judge Matthew Wilson made the announcement after a hearing yesterday on a request from Attorney General Gary King's office for a preliminary injunction against Valley Meat Co.

King has filed a lawsuit alleging the company's operations would violate state environmental and food safety laws.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A city and county in southern New Mexico have settled a lawsuit filed by a man taken to two hospitals and subjected to anal probes over suspicion of hiding drugs.

Attorneys for David Eckert said yesterday that Hidalgo County and the city of Deming recently settled their portion of a lawsuit for a total of $1.6 million.

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — The city of Farmington now has a new and bigger shelter to house dogs and cats in need of homes.

The Daily Times reports Mayor Tommy Roberts officially opened the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter in a ribbon ceremony.

Roberts told a crowd of about 40 people on Friday that the building would help transition Farmington from being an animal control community to an animal welfare community.

Shelter workers say the 14,542-square-foot space will be able to hold 358 animals.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A southern New Mexico county clerk who faced a lawsuit for issuing same-sex marriage licenses is donating the rest of his defense fund to a pro-gay marriage campaign.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins plans to give the money to New Mexico Unites for Marriage Equality.

Ellins, who announced his decision Friday, says a few thousand dollars are left.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A coalition of border sheriffs is opposing a plan to designate scenic mountainous areas in Dona Ana County as a federal monument.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that in a letter to New Mexico's two Democratic senators, Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison says the group believes plan will leave the land vulnerable to illegal activity.

U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall have introduced legislation that calls for designating about 780 square miles near Las Cruces as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials say the state is facing its worst shortage of primary care providers at a time when thousands are expected to enroll in state and federal health insurance exchanges.

The Associated Press reports that the federal government has designated every county statewide, except one, as having a shortage.

The latest figures show the state has 1,429 active primary physicians but another 219 are needed, based on the population.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new report says Albuquerque water use dropped seven percent last year amid an ongoing drought.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says the percentage was the biggest one-year drop since 1997.

Officials say the community's total water use for the year, 32 billion gallons, was the lowest for the metro area since 1983. That comes despite the fact that the population in the utility's service area has grown 70 percent in the two decades since.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A homeless man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for robbing an Albuquerque bank last March.

Prosecutors say 56-year-old Sheldon David Weisman received a 51-month prison term yesterday.

Weisman was arrested March 15 on a criminal complaint alleging he robbed a Wells Fargo Bank branch earlier that day.

Authorities say Weisman entered the bank and handed a note to a teller demanding money.

Weisman left with a bag of cash and a bank employee saw him drive away in a vehicle with a Texas license plate.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Rio Rancho couple has been sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay nearly $75,000 in restitution for embezzling money from a New Mexico casino.

Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old John Hoffman and his wife, Michelle Fischer, were sentenced yesterday.

Hoffman pleaded guilty in March to a charge of embezzling money from the Santa Ana Star Casino.

At the time, Hoffman worked in the casino's marketing department.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A hearing officer is recommending that the New Mexico Environment Department deny a wastewater permit for a Roswell company that wants to slaughter horses.

The hearing officer cited what she called the company's record of "willful disregard" of the state's environmental laws.

Valley Meat Co. and the groups trying to block its opening now have 15 days to respond to the report before the environment secretary decides whether to renew the company's permit. The permit doesn't impact whether Valley can slaughter horses, but rather how it disposes of waste.

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