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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Native American leaders in New Mexico are raising concerns about a proposal by non-tribal racetracks and casinos to open the state to Las Vegas-style gambling. They told state lawmakers during a meeting Monday that allowing unlimited slot machines, table games, online gambling and sports wagering at the tracks and casinos would be a "reckless attempt to expand private wealth." The tribal leaders also said they were not approached about the plan until just days before tracks executives testified before another legislative panel earlier this month. Track executives predict that expanded gambling would boost tourism and ensure the survival of the horse racing industry in New Mexico. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — More than 80,000 people cast ballots across New Mexico over the weekend as Democrats continue to dominate early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The secretary of state's office said Monday that more than 265,000 ballots have been cast. Voting convenience centers opened Saturday across the state. Registered Republicans currently account for one-third of ballots, while about 54% were cast by Democrats. On Sunday, candidates in an open U.S. Senate race presented clashing visions for the future of the U.S. health care system, responses to climate change and potential policing reforms during a televised debate. Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Republican former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti hope to replace Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Tech has temporarily closed out of caution against COVID-19 after officials learned of several off-campus weekend parties. University President Stephen Wells announced on the school's website that the campus would be shut down Monday. According to Wells, between 50-100 students gathered over the weekend at multiple parties in the area surrounding the Socorro campus. Wells says extreme measures are needed due to "the irresponsibility of a few." State health officials on Monday reported an additional 518 cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 37,300 since the pandemic began.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are confirming 42 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths. The figures released Sunday night bring the total number of cases to 10,955. The known death toll remained at 573. Tribal health officials said 116,368 people on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,381 have recovered. A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the Navajo Nation. Most people experience mild or moderate symptoms with the coronavirus, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.  


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two men are in critical condition after an explosion at a cannabis manufacturing facility in New Mexico. The explosion Thursday at the New MexiCann Natural Medicine facility in Santa Fe was the second explosion that has injured workers at the plant in the last five years. The two men were transported by air ambulance to a hospital. Their identities were not made public. A state official says the incident is under investigation. Fire officials obtained two search warrants Friday for camera footage of dispensary. 


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The CEO of New Mexico's commercial spacecraft launch facility facing accusation he pressured a former chief financial officer to circumvent internal financial controls has been ousted. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Dan Hicks was terminated as Spaceport America's executive director and CEO with little public discussion on Friday. The governing board of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority met in a special session via video conference. The firing comes as Hicks has been on administrative leave since June while allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority have been under investigation by the New Mexico State Auditor and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Hicks did not immediately return phone messages.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. House Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has kept a fundraising edge in a crucial House race in southern New Mexico that Republicans hope to flip. Federal election reports show the Las Cruces Democrat pulled in $2,247,575 during that third quarter, which ended September 30. She now has $1,869,189 cash-on-hand going into the final weeks before the election. Republican challenger Yvette Herrell saw a surge in fundraising during the same period and raised $1,013,687 _ one of the biggest fundraising quarters for a Republican congressional candidate in state history. The Alamogordo Republican reported having $514,096 cash-on-hand.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a 22-year-old man who fatally shot another man while staying at his girlfriend's house has pleaded guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico announced that Joshua Gutierrez entered the plea Friday in Albuquerque federal court. A news release from the U.S. attorney says Gutierrez was staying at a home on the Navajo Nation where his girlfriend and her father lived when the shooting occured on March 29 when he went to investigate an argument. The shooting happened on the Navajo Nation and Gutierrez faces 12 years in prison.