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Local and State News

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

  • NMSU joins handful of colleges with new signature wine

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University is now one of just a handful of schools in the U.S. that have their own signature wines. The school announced its new licensing venture with Lescombes family vineyards on Thursday. It comes as universities across the country search for creative ways to bring in more revenue and boost their brands as the pandemic has forced classes online and upended athletic programs. New Mexico State's offering — Crimson Legacy — follows the successful launch in 2017 of the school's beer — Pistol Pete's 1888 Ale. The new cabernet also pays homage to the state's 400-year history of wine making.

  • Swing-district debate hinges on oil sector, border security

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — GOP congressional challenger Yvette Herrell embraced President Donald Trump's border-wall strategy for immigration enforcement and burnished an anti-abortion, pro-petroleum philosophy in a bid to unseat Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small at a network-televised debate. At Wednesday's encounter from an Albuquerque studio on live TV, Torres Small cast herself as a pragmatist who has focused on high-tech drug interdiction at border ports of entry and her opposition to efforts in Congress to ban fracking. Absentee and limited early voting have begun across New Mexico. The 2nd Congressional District race is a rematch from 2018, when Herrell declined to debate and lost by fewer than 4,000 votes.

  • Daily coronavirus infections steeply rise in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped to 426 statewide in the second-highest single-day tally of the pandemic. State health officials on Wednesday also confirmed two fatalities as virus-related deaths approach the 900 mark. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is showing no signs of infection as she self-quarantines in response to one positive test result by a custodian at the governor's mansion in Santa Fe. The rolling average of daily infections has nearly doubled over the course of the past two weeks. Education officials reported 15 infections at schools, including four children.

  • Democrats dominate 1st day of voting in Albuquerque area

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say Democrats cast nearly half of the ballots across New Mexico during the first day of early and absentee voting, while registered Republicans accounted for about 38% of participation. The secretary of state's office said Wednesday that 10,157 ballots were cast statewide on the opening day of voting. County clerks on Tuesday began distributing absentee ballots and opened their central offices to early voting. Voting convenience centers will open on Oct. 17 at hundreds of locations. Democratic turnout was especially pronounced in Bernalillo County, the most populous metro area that encompasses Albuquerque. Democrats there accounted for 67% of early and absentee ballots.

  • New Mexico weighs court fees reform

SANTA FE, N.M (AP) — New Mexico legislators are considering proposals to reduce court fees and declutter courts in an effort to bring socioeconomic equity to the state's justice system. Criminal justice reform advocates say court fees and fines can be unpayable, leading to a cycle of missed payments, arrests and additional fines. The New Mexico Sentencing Commission is calling for legislation that would let judges offer payment plans to defendants and cap payments for both fines and fees at 2% of net income or a minimum of $10 per month. They also want to streamline financial assessments by courts and reduce the money spent trying to collect payments from the poor. The proposals were made Wednesday to the state legislature's Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee.

  • Ex-Catholic priest in New Mexico dies before abuse trial

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico say a former Roman Catholic priest has died just weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial after he was accused of raping a young girl at an Albuquerque parochial school decades ago. The New Mexico attorney general's office said 82-year-old Sabine Griego died last week. The trial was scheduled to begin Nov. 16. A judge had released Griego on his own recognizance, so he was not in custody while awaiting trial. Albuquerque-based attorney Levi Monagle, who is representing the survivors in the criminal lawsuit, says his death is "deeply disheartening" to survivors.

  • Strict rules keep business out of New Mexico loan program

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — According to a state agency, only about $20 million of a $400 million loan program for New Mexico small businesses hit by the pandemic has been approved to send out since the program began in August. In a presentation to the state legislature Tuesday, the agency tasked with distributing the low-interest loans said legislators might want to make it easier to qualify. Around 85% of those businesses that didn't qualify for the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund failed to meet the requirement of showing a loss of at least 30% of revenue in April and May compared with the same time in 2019. As written, the statute does not allow flexibility in the program for businesses that are less than a year old and therefore can't compare revenues.

  • New Mexico candidate addresses his work in 1980s porn films

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democratic candidate in an open New Mexico House race is acknowledging his participation in two pornographic films in the 1980s as a college student. The revelation about Roger Montoya of Velarde emerged as the nationally heralded arts educator runs for office in a sprawling rural legislative district. Montoya says he was young and naive when he participated in the films and is not proud of it. The state Republican Party on Monday called on Montoya to withdraw from the political race based on "unacceptable" risky and dangerous behavior. Leading Democrats have rallied in support of Montoya.