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Local and State News

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

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is thanking President Donald Trump for telling Americans that they should wear masks when they're unable to keep distance between themselves and other people. The Democrat tweeted her appreciation Tuesday, saying: "Thanks for joining us, Mr. President." Masks are mandated in New Mexico as the state has been dealing with an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Health officials are now reporting an additional 307 cases. That brings the statewide total to 17,517 since the pandemic began. Officials also reported an additional 10 deaths, bringing that tally to nearly 590. 

  • METHANE FIGHT-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators say they have taken best practices from around the U.S. and come up with new ideas as the state moves forward with mandating reductions in methane and other pollutants from the oil and gas industry. State environment and energy officials on Tuesday provided more details about the proposed regulations. The public has 30 days to comment before regulators hammer out the final rules. The proposal includes requirements for reporting emissions data and a path forward for collecting revenues on vented and flared gas, which could bring in millions of dollars annually to benefit public schools.

  • AP-US-BORDER WALL-LAND TRANSFER

PHOENIX (AP) — The federal Bureau of Land Management says it has transferred over 65 acres of public land in Arizona and New Mexico to the Army for border wall infrastructure. The agency says it handed over 53 acres in Yuma County, Arizona, that is needed to install power and other utilities around the border wall there. Another 12.7 acres in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, were transferred so that the Army could install power and other utilities along with engineering for roads that provide access to the border wall project there. Critics say construction of the border wall and infrastructure around imperils wildlife and protected land. 

  • HEALTH OVERHAUL-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Consultants have outlined for New Mexico's Democrat-led Legislature the financial consequences of adopting a state-administered universal health insurance program for all residents. They say in a final report released Monday that such a system would improve affordability for low-income households. However, premiums for other families, employer contributions and payroll taxes likely would go up to pay for what could be a multibillion-dollar shortfall over the first five years. The analysis also says the state's uninsured rate would likely fall below 1% and that the use of health care services would likely increase as the vast majority of residents turn to public insurance. 

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court will weigh a challenge to New Mexico's prohibition on indoor service at restaurants and breweries, as the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham defends its public health orders from a restive restaurant industry. Lujan Grisham on Monday urged restaurants to abide by emergency health restrictions based on concerns that gathering without face masks to eat can pose an increased risk of transmitting COVID-19. The Supreme Court stepped into the fray hours after a state district court judge in southern New Mexico suspended the indoor dining ban. Restaurants assert that the industry hasn't had a significant role in the spread of the coronavirus.

  • FOUR CORNERS-AIR SERVICE

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has shifted plans to bring air service to the Four Corners region. Farmington had been negotiating to bring regional service to and from Denver. But the city announced Monday that the effort will be delayed until at least next spring because of travel concerns. The Four Corners Regional Airport hasn't had commercial service since November 2017. Crews began upgrading the runway last year to meet federal guidelines for commercial service. The work was completed in May. The city says it's eager to resume the service when the time is right.

  • NAVAJO NATION COUNCIL

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation lawmakers are meeting remotely this week for their summer session. The lawmakers are considering overturning a presidential veto of a bill that canceled the tribe's primary election. Navajo voters narrow the list of candidates for local chapter officials in early August, in line with the statewide primary election in Arizona. Tribal lawmakers approved a bill in April to cancel the primary election and decide the winner by plurality vote in November. The tribal president vetoed the bill. Overriding it requires a two-thirds vote of the Navajo Nation Council.

  • TEEN VAPING

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A state analysis says many New Mexico teenagers have stopped cigarette smoking but are vaping. That has erased progress anti-tobacco advocates said they achieved in getting high school students to avoid traditional tobacco use. The Albuquerque Journal reported the findings were in the New Mexico Department of Health 2019 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey. The survey found that overall use of tobacco products including e-cigarettes among young people increased by 23% since 2009, with 37.8% of high school students saying they use tobacco. Youth e-cigarette use rose nearly 42% from 2015 to 2019.