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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 P.m. MST


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are trying to fix the deficient broadband system that residents have struggled with during the pandemic as basic services migrated online. Schools and some health care services like vaccine sign-up are mostly online. Many New Mexicans are not, including one in five students at the start of the pandemic. A bill introduced to the house would create a broadband clearinghouse to manage federal grants, who supporters say is the main funder of internet expansion in the state. The bill would not fund internet access for all, which the Department of Information Technology estimates would cost over $1 billion.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials on Tuesday reported 54 new COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths. The latest figures raised the totals to 28,994 cases and 1,075 known deaths since the pandemic began. The Navajo Department of Health has identified 44 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4, down from 75 communities in recent weeks. The tribe has extended its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the virus' spread on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  The Navajo Nation also is lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more vaccination events.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Records show a red-flag gun law aimed at removing firearms from people who pose a danger to themselves or others has been applied just four times across New Mexico since it went into effect in May. The Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed Tuesday that petitions for extreme risk firearm protection orders have been filed in Eddy, Santa Fe, Taos and San Juan counties. Three resulted in one-year court orders for the surrender of firearms — with one order later rescinded. A similar law in Florida has been used thousands of times since it was enacted in response to a mass shooting at a high school in 2018.


Associated Press (AP) — A major effort is getting underway at several universities, tribal museums and libraries to digitize the oral histories of thousands of Native Americans. The recordings were collected a half century ago as part of a project initiated by the late philanthropist Doris Duke. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 million to help with the translation and transcription of the recordings so they can be accessible to Native communities, students and the wider public. Plans also call for expanding the collections with contemporary voices. The recordings come from a pivotal time in U.S. history when the civil rights movement spurred greater visibility of minority populations, including Native Americans.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A top-ranked state legislator is defending the move to online committee hearings and other pandemic safety rules that allow only three legislators at a time on the floor of the New Mexico House of Representatives. In legal filings made public on Monday, Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf urged the state Supreme Court to uphold emergency legislative procedures that rely heavily on videoconferencing. Egolf says more people are participating in online legislative hearings than could possibly fit physically into committee rooms under normal circumstances. Top House Republicans say that the health restrictions exclude people without internet service and are asking the Supreme court to intervene.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill is headed to the House floor for a vote that would open up state courts to a variety of civil rights claims against police agencies and local governments. A House committee on judicial affairs on Monday endorsed the bill that would allow damage awards of up to $2 million and court intervention in state and local government affairs where civil rights guarantees are violated under the New Mexico Constitution. Democratic legislators advanced the bill on an 8-4 vote without Republican support. The proposal builds on recommendations of a civil rights commission chartered by the lawmakers as protests over police brutality and racial injustice swept the nation.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A top human resources employee for New Mexico's governor has stepped down  to take a new role with President Joe Biden's administration after more than two years in the position. Pam Coleman, who was appointed to serve as director of the state personnel office in January 2019 under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, will now transition into a top-ranking job with the U.S. office of Management and Budget. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Coleman said in her Jan. 27 resignation letter that she would take a "mutual passion for public service" to the Biden administration. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at some of New Mexico's largest hospitals are holding out hope that vaccine supplies will catch up with demand. They said during a briefing that they understand the wait is stressful for people who have registered to receive shots. Some have been waiting for weeks, and state health officials have acknowledged that residents have been crossing state lines in search of vaccines in Texas. On Monday, the New Mexico Health Department confirmed Walgreens and other pharmacies in the state would begin receiving shipments this week. Over 89,000 New Mexico residents have been fully vaccinated — or about 4.2% of the population.