Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT
- DISASTER AID-OVERSIGHT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's congressional delegation says some farmers and ranchers have been shortchanged on federal disaster aid. They also say Hispanic farmers who rely on traditional acequias to irrigate their crops have been told they're ineligible for assistance. The delegation is asking the U.S. Agriculture Department to monitor management of the disaster aid program in New Mexico given the concerns. They say the Farm Service Agency in New Mexico has been telling farmers and ranchers that drought is not an eligible cause of loss on irrigated lands despite most of the state experiencing either severe or extreme drought.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has shattered its previous record for confirmed COVID-19 cases amid fears the state is experiencing a second wave of the deadly virus. Health officials reported Wednesday that the state recorded 577 new coronavirus cases. That breaks last week's record for the U.S. Southwestern state when it recorded 488 new cases in a single day. The new cases come as Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday she would renew public health restrictions and warned that more stringent rules could be imposed because of a rise in cases. New rules limit gatherings to five people or less and reduced hotel capacities.
- INDIAN EDUCATION-LEADER CHOSEN
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.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
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.
- MEDICAL MARIJUANA-NEW MEXICO
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.
- ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO REGULATORS
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.
- OPERATION LEGEND-BARR
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.