The “groundbreaking research” Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry commissioned on crime — the city’s No. 1 issue — may sit on a shelf unused when his successor takes office Dec. 1. Why? The two candidates headed for a mayoral runoff election next month, two-term Republican city councilor Dan Lewis and Democratic state Auditor Tim Keller, said the information about crime concentration likely won’t guide their crime-fighting plans if elected.
The oil and gas industry has been a bright spot in the New Mexico economy over the past few years. But with the price of oil staying low and showing no signs of improving, that may be changing. Albuquerque Business First reported that job cuts from the international conglomerate ConocoPhillips will include cuts in New Mexico. ConocoPhillips is the top gas producer in the state and one of the top oil producers in the state. From Business First: “I can confirm that our company has decided to reduce our workforce by 10 percent.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico will not be offering individual plans on the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange in 2016 after the Superintendent of Insurance rejected a large requested pay hike. Albuquerque Business First reported the news and it comes just weeks after the company requested approval for a premium rate increase. The insurance company had requested a 51.6 percent premium rate hike, but the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance rejected the proposal earlier this month. The move will impact 35,000 individuals who bought insurance from the company both directly and through the exchange. Those who have BCBSNM insurance plans from other plans will not be impacted.
In a meeting on Wednesday, the state Public Regulation Commission voted to regulate ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber. The PRC voted that the services can be regulated under the state Motor Carrier Act like taxi companies, towing companies and other commercial entitties. The regulations refer to the services as Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs. However, the PRC did not say that ride-sharing services are the same as taxi companies and instead, created a new set of rules for the ride-sharing companies. The companies have spread throughout the country and currently operate in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.
Gov. Susana Martinez said that she is speaking with legislators from both parties about a possible special session. The special session would be to pass capital outlay legislation, which pays for public infrastructure projects throughout the state. Martinez said this at the budget signing of the $6.2 billion state budget on Thursday. From Albuquerque Business First:”We have certainly been in conversations with representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle,” Martinez said. “We want to be able to come to a consensus and some agreement before we even decide whether or not we want to have a special session because it costs $50,000 a day to have the special session and we don’t want to go in there and not have these conversations and then end up with nothing, or something worse, so we are talking with leadership.”Martinez said her office had contacted Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, but had not spoke to him.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke to the New Mexico legislature on Tuesday about a number of issues. She called on legislators to declare a war on poverty and reiterated her call for independent investigators into police shootings. [View the story “Lujan Grisham calls for NM war on poverty” on Storify]
Thursday saw the announcement of changes at the Associated Press in New Mexico and the closing of an Albuquerque alt-weekly. Local IQ, an alt-weekly that focused on art and culture, told advertisers on Thursday that no more new issues would be printed. The last issue of the paper was a December 26 issue. Albuquerque Business First first reported on the paper’s closure.”In the end we realized that we weren’t reaching the goals we originally set for ourselves and the company at this point in the company’s lifespan,” she said. “There are many readers and advertisers who have been loyal to us and we want to thank them.”Albuquerque Business First publisher Ian Anderson tweeted the email from Local IQ founder and publisher Francine Maher Hopper to advertisers.