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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor has signed legislation to require that police officers wear body cameras as a deterrent against excessive use of force. Signed Wednesday, the policing reforms apply to local and state law enforcement officers with the exception of tribal agencies. The state's Democrat-led legislature approved bill in June during a four-day special session. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham first called for the body camera requirements amid demonstrations set off by George Floyd's killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. A bill sponsor has invoked the death of Antonio Valenzuela at the hands of Las Cruces police officers in a video-recorded encounter in February that has led to charge of involuntary manslaughter against one officer.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration has proposed empowering border authorities to deny asylum to people from countries with widespread, deadly communicable disease. Wednesday's announcement is the latest in a string of regulations before the November elections to dramatically raise the bar on who qualifies for humanitarian protections. The Homeland Security and Justice departments say denying asylum to people from high-risk countries would combat disease in the United States, in some cases stopping it before it reaches American soil. The rule would take effect sometime after a 30-day period for public comments.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It will be up to the New Mexico Supreme Court to decide a case over the state's authority to enforce certain provisions of public health orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Arguments will be presented during an Aug. 4 remote hearing. About a dozen business owners and companies are challenging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's authority to levy hefty fines for violating public health orders. The Democratic governor has declined to reopen any more of the economy because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases. State officials said Wednesday marked New Mexico's second-highest daily new case count yet, with the statewide total of confirmed cases topping 14,000 since the pandemic began.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham used her veto power to preserve executive control over hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding in the budget solvency bill she recently signed. The move could mean less financial assistance for some Native American communities. State lawmakers during the special session had prioritized the communities by setting aside $23 million for tribal governments and another $15 million specifically for northwest counties with large Indigenous populations. That was in addition to allocating the federal funds statewide based on population numbers. The governor's team says it's working on a formula to ensure distribution is equitable.


TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. (AP) — Activists and towns are left wondering what to do with empty spaces that once honored historic figures tied to racism as statues and monuments fall. They also are debating how to remember civil rights figures in areas where they have been forgotten. Some advocates say figures like Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman or Mexican American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta should replace the fallen statues. Others say Isleta Pueblo and World War II Marine Sgt. Miguel Trujillo Sr., who sued to get Native Americans the right to vote in New Mexico, or former slave-turned-abolitionist Olaudah Equiano should have monuments erected in their honor. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority has approved more than $74 million for eight housing developments in six communities around the state. The funding comes through the federal low-income housing tax credit program. Officials said the projects will result in more than 260 new apartments in Sunland Park, Mescalero, Acoma Pueblo and Albuquerque. Another 202 apartments will be renovated in Los Lunas and Albuquerque. In addition to providing much-needed housing in the communities, officials said construction activity from the developments is expected to generate $33 million in income for the communities and support hundreds of jobs.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The largest electric provider in New Mexico has unveiled its latest solar array. A virtual ribbon cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for the Encino Solar Field, located in Sandoval County west of Rio Rancho. Public Service Co. of New Mexico and New Mexico Renewable Development LLC entered an agreement last year to build the 50-megawatt solar array to provide electricity for Facebook's data center near Los Lunas. PNM says it's committed to providing emissions-free electricity to customers over the next two decades. Facebook has committed to support its operations with 100% renewable energy beginning this year.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department has fined an oil and gas company more than $5.3 million for repeated violations of state air pollution standards. DCP Midstream was issued a compliance order Tuesday. The Denver-based company allegedly had numerous emissions violations between December 2017 and June 2019 for eight Permian Basin facilities in New Mexico's Eddy and Lea counties. State officials said DCP submitted 367 excess emission reports for the eight facilities, totaling over 2.1 million pounds of pollutants. DCP also has been ordered to immediately comply with all air permit limits and state and federal air quality laws. A DCP Midstream spokeswoman says the company received the order and plans to respond soon.