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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) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has approved rule changes that court officials say will enhance public safety by helping prosecutors assess whether certain felony defendants are dangerous and should be kept in jail while awaiting trial. The Administrative Office of the Courts said the justices approved the changes last week. A committee of representatives from all three branches of state government had recommended the state revise the justice system's rules for implementing a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016. The changes include permitting judges to delay certain defendants' initial pretrial release to give prosecutors more time to determine whether pretrial detention is warranted.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The window opens later this week for the final round of testing of Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered spacecraft as the company inches toward commercial flights. Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses updated New Mexico lawmakers on the progress during a meeting Monday. The space tourism company already has done nine flights from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, including two glide flights by the spaceship. Moses says the upcoming test will mark the third space flight for Virgin Galactic and the first from New Mexico. Two pilots will crew the flight and cargo including several research projects will be carried in the cabin.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Workers at a popular immersive arts entertainment project have approved the formation of a labor union under the Communications Workers of America umbrella. Meow Wolf employee Michael Wolf said Tuesday that the move to unionize was approved by a majority of 130 eligible, rank-and-file employees by electronic balloting. Meow Wolf coined a new brand of family entertainment with its "House of Eternal Return" exhibition in Santa Fe that is currently idled by a statewide pandemic health order. Meow Wolf laid off just over 200 workers in April but has plans to expand into Las Vegas and Denver next year. Employees there are not covered by the union.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is scheduled Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 cases after a string of record-breaking daily case counts prompted more restrictions last week. The Democratic governor has warned that more stringent rules could be imposed to curb the surge. Officials also are cracking down on employers who they say aren't following the rules. The state's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has opened an investigation of Sandia National Laboratories after receiving a complaint. Lab officials say from the start of the pandemic through Oct. 15, the majority of cases at Sandia were acquired offsite and outside of work hours.


DEMING, N.M. (AP) — A Republican mayor of a southern New Mexico city is throwing his support behind Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for re-election. An ad released Tuesday by the Torres Small's campaign highlights Republican Deming Mayor Benny Jasso endorsing the Las Cruces Democrat over her GOP challenger, Yvette Herrell. Jasso says in the ad that Torres Small has fought for the city 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) north of the U.S. Mexican border. Torres Small is locked in a tight race with Herrell in the traditionally conservative-leaning district. Herrell recently was endorsed by the last Democrat to hold the seat.VIRUS OUTBREAK-NETFLIX-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Netflix has halted production of its Western film "The Harder They Fall" on Thursday after at least two people among the cast and crew tested positive for the coronavirus while working in New Mexico. The production did not identify the infected people. The production has been required to adhere to state safety guidelines, including facial masks and social distancing. The cast and crew also has been subjected to multiple coronavirus tests a week. Productions usually wait two weeks with no positive tests before resuming. This film resumed shooting in late September after being shut down in March because of the pandemic. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials say they will continue to waive job search requirements until further notice for those receiving unemployment benefits. The Workforce Solutions Department made the announcement Monday, citing the increasing number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state. Department Secretary Bill McCamley says with the recent spike, the decision was made to give New Mexicans more time before work searches are required. The announcement reverses an earlier decision that had required people to report at least two work searches during their weekly certification process beginning Oct. 25. The agency also is delaying the opening of its offices for in-person visits to limit spread. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico is the latest to join other forests in New Mexico and neighboring Arizona that are all at a high, very high or extreme fire danger rating. Lincoln officials announced the move to the higher rating Monday, as weather forecasters said more hot, dry weather were on tap for the region this week. Forest officials say despite it being late October, multiple fires larger than 1,000 acres have cropped up in the past week, including the Luna Fire in northern New Mexico and the Horse Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.