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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT

  • ELECTION 2020-HOUSE-NEW MEXICO

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is maintaining a money edge in a critical U.S. House race in southern New Mexico that Republicans hope to recapture. Federal campaign records show the Las Cruces Democrats raised nearly $796,000 from mid-May to June 30 and had $3.9 million cash-on-hand. Her campaign coffer has more than 10 times the amount of Yvette Herrell, her GOP challenger. Records show Herrell raised more than $395,000 during the same period following a grueling GOP primary. The former state lawmaker reported having $379,000 cash-on-hand. Torres Small defeated Herrell by less than 4,000 votes in 2018 to flip a traditionally Republican-leaning district along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — People who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Arizona are being transferred to New Mexico hospitals because of staffing shortages and a lack of bed space, under a federal law that requires hospitals to accept patients from neighboring states if beds are available. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the transfer of out-of-state patients poses challenges as some New Mexico facilities are at or nearing capacity levels. The University of New Mexico Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare Services have accepted Arizona patients for treatment, including 96 patients from the Navajo Nation. It is unclear how many Arizona patients have been transferred to New Mexico.

  • RIO GRANDE DIVERSION

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Water managers in Santa Fe say expected low flows along the Rio Grande will likely force the temporary shutdown of diversions as early as this weekend. Officials with the Buckman diversion project say the river's flow is expected to drop rapidly once the last of the water stored for irrigation in the Middle Rio Grande Valley has been used. They say river conditions at the Buckman diversion location north of Santa Fe will be monitored closely. If flows reach or go below 300 cubic feet per second, diversions will be temporarily halted.

  • RACIAL INJUSTICE-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A much-criticized New Mexico sheriff who has led an office facing racial profiling lawsuits and has refused to force deputies to wear body cameras says his office will instead use smartphones. Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales told reporters Wednesday he is looking to partner with a company so deputies can put smartphones in their vests and record video. Last week, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill requiring all law enforcement to wear body cameras. But Gonzales calls the current technology archaic and says it's too costly. Gonzales has faced criticism for refusing to force deputies to wear body cams amid a string of deputy shootings.

  • CHIEF JUSTICE-VIGIL

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Justice Michael Vigil has taken over as New Mexico's top judge.Vigil was sworn in for a two-year-term as chief justice on Wednesday after he was selected by his colleagues on the five-member New Mexico Supreme Court. The chief justice presides over Supreme Court hearings and is the top administrative officer for the New Mexico judiciary, including personnel and and budgets. He says in a statement that his first priority is to work on keeping courts open during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping courthouse staff and visitors healthy. Vigil takes over as chief justice from Judith Nakamura, who remains on the court but plans to retire later this year. 

  • TRIBES-CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUNDING

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribal nations are challenging a court decision that allows Alaska Native corporations to receive a share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding. The tribal nations filed a notice of appeal Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. A lower court judge had said the U.S. Treasury Department could release funding to the corporations if the tribes didn't move forward with an appeal then. The Treasury Department has set aside at least $162 million for the corporations, but it hasn't disclosed the exact amount. Tribal nations have argued that only federally recognized tribes should get the money.

  • RACIAL INJUSTICE-ALBUQUERQUE POLICE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's state auditor is seeking an investigation into what he calls potential criminal activity around overtime abuse within Albuquerque police. State Auditor Brian Colón said Wednesday he is asking New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to join him with a probe of the state's largest police department. Colón also says he has designated the city of Albuquerque for a special audit to examine the allegations of overtime abuse and policy violations. A spokesman for Albuquerque police did not immediately return an email.

  • RACIAL INJUSTICE-SPANISH LEGACY

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico high school named after a Spanish conquistador will be renamed following nationwide protests against racial injustice.. The Las Cruces School Board voted Tuesday to drop the name of Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar from a high school. Indigenous leaders convinced another New Mexico county to remove its statue of Oñate. New Mexico Pueblo members have long seen Oñate has a brutal leader who forced Native Americans into slavery. Numerous Confederate statues and monuments to American slave owners, as well as statues honoring Christopher Columbus, have been taken down by officials or torn down by protester in the weeks following the death of George Floyd.