Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-PRIVATE SCHOOLS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge is weighing whether pandemic-related occupancy limits for private schools in New Mexico violate constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of assembly. A federal judge heard preliminary arguments Wednesday without ruling in a case being closely watched by educators and the Trump administration. The lawsuit by the father of a 7th-grader at a prep school in Albuquerque says the state is violating the U.S. Constitution by setting more stringent limits at private schools regarding in-person instruction. President Donald Trump has threatened to divert federal funding away from public schools that decline to reopen.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Travelers arriving in or returning to New Mexico from Colorado, Oregon and Rhode Island will be required to quarantine for 14 days in a bid to manage the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham added those three states to New Mexico's list of "high risk" states on Wednesday based on coronavirus positivity rates and per capita infections. In all, there are 39 states on New Mexico's list of high risk states. People who can show documentation of a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours before or after entry into New Mexico from another state are exempt from the quarantine requirement.
- RACIAL INJUSTICE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says that states may push for a special census enrollment period next year if President Donald Trump leaves the White House. The comments came at a recent meeting of the governor's advisory council on racial injustice. A new council meeting was scheduled Wednesday. A federal judge is weighing whether the 2020 Census count will end early on Sept. 30 or continue through the original Oct. 31 deadline. A coalition of cities and civil rights groups argues that ending the census early will lead to an inaccurate count that overlooks minority communities.
- SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico is strongly objecting to a recommendation by federal nuclear regulators that a license be granted to build a multibillion-dollar storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S. State officials in a letter submitted Tuesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the site is geologically unsuitable and regulators have failed to consider environmental justice concerns. A group of state lawmakers also has raised concerns. New Jersey-based Holtec International wants to build what it has described as a state-of-the-art complex that could one day hold as many as 10,000 canisters of spent nuclear fuel.
- BALLOON FIESTA
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Fall in Albuquerque just isn't fall without the annual international hot air balloon fiesta. It draws tens of thousands of spectators and pilots from around the globe each October. Organizers had to cancel this year's event due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Mayor Tim Keller said Wednesday he wants to keep the tradition alive for residents. So local pilots are being invited to launch from city parks, golf courses and other open spaces from Oct. 3-11. City officials stressed that spectators won't be allowed at the launch sites but that the balloons will be visible from around the city after they lift off.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-SCHOOL ENROLLMENT
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Education advocates are urging New Mexico lawmakers to pass legislation that would preserve school budgets amid a drop in enrollment during the pandemic. Officials say New Mexico schools are seeing as much as a 5% decrease in enrollment this year. That could lead to a drop in funding for public schools next year because state funding is allocated based on student enrollment 40 days into the semester. Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart calls the latest enrollment numbers an "outlier" and is asking legislative leaders not to punish schools for numbers recorded this year.
- CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — In its latest attempt to bolster access to child care, New Mexico is allowing subsidies for parents who work or study remotely. Families at or below 200% of the poverty line can apply for assistance. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department said Tuesday that the changes allowing remote workers and students to use the subsidies are permanent. Parents have been struggling to balance work and child care with most schools closed because of the pandemic. Child care providers also have struggled to stay afloat with higher costs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and lower profits because fewer children are allowed in their buildings at once.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is implementing a stricter weekend lockdown as it looks into new clusters of coronavirus cases. Residents of the vast reservation that extends into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will be required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning. A previous lockdown was a day shorter. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says the tribe is investigating new cases that resulted from family gatherings around Ganado, Arizona, and on the eastern side of the reservation in New Mexico. A new public health order with the extended lockdown is expected Tuesday.