Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A proposal to amend sentencing for people caught breaking the Navajo Nation coronavirus curfew is awaiting consideration by the Navajo Nation Council. Currently, judges have the option of sentencing offenders to 30 days in jail or with a fine worth up to $1,000. One judge in Chinle, Arizona issued a warning to a curfew offender. Under the new guidelines, first-time rule-breakers of the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will pay $500 fines. Second-time culprits will pay $1,000 fines. Third-time wrongdoers will be subject to $1,000 fines and prison sentences of up to 30 days.
- NEW MEXICO OUTDOORS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials say the key to boosting the economics of outdoor recreation will require educational initiatives for school children as well as improved access and a new workforce. State Forester Laura McCarthy, Outdoor Recreation Division Director Axie Navas and others touted the state's potential for growing its outdoor industry during a panel discussion Thursday. They said efforts are underway to develop what they called a cradle-to-career outdoor education plan that will begin with pre-kindergarten programs. Federal data shows the outdoor recreation industry supports more than 33,000 jobs in New Mexico and nearly $1.2 billion in income.
- AFRICANA STUDIES-LAWSUIT
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The former director of Africana Studies says the University of New Mexico retaliated against him for demanding that his program be elevated to a department. An attorney for Charles Becknell Jr. filed a whistleblower lawsuit in state district court last month alleging the school removed him from his position after he complained about the program's status. According to court documents, a dean told Becknell that the university was focused on elevating Chicano Studies to a department. But the lawsuit says after Africana Studies got state funding to become a department, Becknell was removed. The school did not immediately respond to an email.
- PORTA-POTTY-CRUSING ROUTE 66
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A portable toilet in Albuquerque fell victim to another kind of whiff after strong winds blew it along Route 66. A virtual video this week shows the porta-potty rolling down a busy intersection of the Mother Road as curious motorists looked on. Severe gusts appeared to have dislodged the mobile toilet and forced it down a journey through a road that once connected Chicago to Los Angeles. The traveling portable toilet was seen by a number of motorists and passengers. No injuries were reported and it was unclear if anyone was inside. Route 66 was decommissioned as a U.S. highway in 1985.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It's possible that restrictions on youth sports and training could be eased if New Mexico continues to make progress in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham indicated during an online briefing Thursday that there's an opportunity to review the current restrictions but also acknowledged that the first priority is education and the safe reopening of schools. The current public health order will expire next week. The governor and state health officials say New Mexico's seven-day average case count has reached one of its lowest levels in months. The state has reported more than 26,420 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 816.
- ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Deep political divisions over responses to the coronavirus pandemic are on display in New Mexico as the governor testifies to Congress in support further federal recovery aid. In remote testimony Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham described looming state budget troubles and highlighted the continued need for federal support to ensure economic recovery and fight the spread of COVID-19. Prominent state Republicans are joining mass rallies in defiance of emergency health orders and advocating for fewer restraints on business and schools that affect the economy. In Washington D.C., Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package. They say the proposal shortchanged too many pressing needs.
- ELECTION 2020-SENATE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A prominent lobbying group to the firearms industry has endorsed Republican candidate Mark Ronchetti for U.S. Senate in New Mexico. Ronchetti announced the National Rifle Association's endorsement on Thursday in a tweet. The former television meteorologist is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján to succeed Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring. Ronchetti campaign spokesman Jeff Glassburner said the first-time political candidate is a strong supporter of 2nd Amendment rights and also supports instant background checks. Luján says he favors comprehensive gun safety laws that get "weapons of war off the street" and voted in 2019 to broaden federal background checks to more private and online sales.
- AIR FORCE-CONTAMINATION
CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — State officials have reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Defense Department over groundwater violations at Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico. The agreement announced Thursday addresses a compliance order that was issued over Cannon's lack of a groundwater discharge permit. The base also was accused of not providing state environmental regulators with information about chemicals left behind by past military firefighting activities. The state remains in a legal battle with the U.S. government over the cleanup of contamination at Cannon and Holloman air bases that is linked to chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.