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Local and State News

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


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former Navajo Nation legislative staffer LaShawna Tso has been selected to lead New Mexico's Indian Education division. Wednesday's announcement by the state Public Education Department marks the end of a months-long search. She will fill a key role in a state where 11% of the population is Native American. As assistant secretary of Indian Education, Tso will oversee New Mexico's compliance with a court order that stems from a sweeping lawsuit that accused the state of failing to provide a sound education to vulnerable children from minority communities, non-English speaking households, impoverished families and students with disabilities.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she will renew public health restrictions and is warning that more stringent rules could be imposed because of a rise in COVID-19 cases. The regulations she announced Tuesday will take effect later this week. They will include limiting gatherings to five people, a mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors from high-risk states, reduced hotel capacities and a 10 p.m. closure for any food or drink establishments that serve alcohol. Without a vaccine, the governor said there are only a few tools to fight the virus, such as wearing masks, staying home as much as possible and avoiding groups of people.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A state district judge has cleared the way for hundreds of patients to be re-authorized to participate in New Mexico's medical marijuana program. The ruling issued Tuesday stemmed from a challenge of a mandate and subsequent rule adopted by the state health department that placed additional requirements on some patients who have medical marijuana cards from other states. The health department says it will comply with the ruling and that all 323 people affected by the decision will once again be able to buy from licensed cannabis providers in the state. Marijuana is only legal for medical use in New Mexico.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — It will be up to New Mexico voters to decide the future of a powerful commission in charge of regulating utilities and other businesses. If approved during the general election, a constitutional amendment on the ballot would change the Public Regulation Commission from an elected panel to one comprised of members appointed by the governor. Supporters say the change would insulate the staff from political considerations. Opponents call it a power grab by the governor that would take away the right of voters to elect commissioners. It was an amendment approved by voters in 1996 that created the regulatory commission.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General William Barr says the federal government's efforts to crack down on violent crime in Albuquerque and other U.S. cities is paying dividends. He visited New Mexico on Wednesday to provide an update on Operation Legend, which was launched earlier this year by the Trump administration in honor of a Kansas City boy who was killed in June. Officials said Kansas City has seen a 30% reduction in violent crime. Barr noted that Albuquerque has a crime rate between three and four times the national average. He said violent crime is solvable and the priority has to be getting chronic offenders off the streets.


SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) — Thomas Atcitty, a former interim Navajo Nation president and longtime New Mexico state representative, has died. The tribe says Atcitty died Sunday of natural causes. He was 86. Funeral services are scheduled Wednesday in Shiprock, New Mexico, where Atcitty lived most of his life. He is being remembered for his leadership and compassion for Navajos. Atcitty served as the tribe's vice president from 1995 to 1998. He was elevated to the top post after then-Navajo President Albert Hale resigned rather than face allegations he abused a tribal credit card. Atcitty served only months in the role before the Navajo Nation Council removed him from office. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A U.S. bankruptcy judge has ruled clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred millions to avoid bigger payouts to victims. The Albuquerque Journal reports the recent decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims. An estimated $52 million has been paid in out-of-court settlements to victims in prior years.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new film examines the history of African Americans driving on the road from the Great Depression to the height of the Civil Rights movement. "Driving While Black," airing this week on most PBS stations in the U.S., show how the automobile liberated African Americans to move around the country while still navigating segregation and violence. Directed by Ric Burns, the documentary was inspired by Gretchen Sorin's 2020 book, "Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights." She argued the car allowed African Americans to avoid segregated trains and buses throughout the American South.