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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An effort to shore up abortion rights in New Mexico is poised for a decisive vote in the state Senate. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth scheduled deliberations for Wednesday on a bill that would repeal a 1969 ban on most abortion procedures. The ban could go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. New Mexico's move to ensure future abortion access provides a counterpoint to 10 states where outright abortion bans have been proposed this year, as Republicans vow to test where the Supreme Court stands after the appointment of three conservative justices by former President Donald Trump.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police in Albuquerque say a woman has been arrested for allegedly trying to abduct her two sons. They say the boys _ ages 3 and 6 _ were found safe at a motel Wednesday. Police issued an Amber Alert on Tuesday after Clorisa Renee Covington took the two boys without permission after their dental appointment despite the children being in a state protective care program. Police say Covington doesn't have custody of the two boys and will be facing criminal charges.  AIt was unclear Wednesday if she has a lawyer yet.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 38 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. The latest figures raised the totals to 29,041 cases and 1,086 known deaths since the pandemic began. Tribal officials said additional federal personnel are beginning to arrive to support vaccination efforts on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. 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 reservation. The Navajo Nation also is lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more vaccination events.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is lifting mandatory self-quarantine requirements for visitors arriving in the state. Officials on Wednesday cited what they described as a brighter pandemic outlook, despite January having marked the deadliest month yet of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. New Mexico has fared better in recent weeks as the rolling seven-day average of new confirmed cases has been dropping. Deaths and hospitalizations also are down in the state. More than half of the state's 33 counties have emerged from strict lockdown by earning favorable yellow and green ratings on a color-coded map. Health officials reported 31 new daily virus deaths.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Senate pressed forward with proposals for pandemic-related financial relief measures. The Democrat-led chamber overwhelmingly approved a trio of bills Wednesday that would offer minimal-interest loans to small businesses, tax breaks for restaurants and a temporary waiver on liquor license fees. A centerpiece bill from state Sen. Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque would authorize loans of up to $150,000 to small businesses at sub-prime interest rates. The bills now move to the state House for consideration. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signaled her willingness to approve broad relief measures.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An audit says one of the nation's premier nuclear laboratories isn't taking the necessary precautions to guard against wildfires. The finding by the U.S. Energy Department's inspector general comes as wildfire risks intensify across the drought-stricken U.S. West. Los Alamos National Laboratory is the birthplace of the atomic bomb and has experienced hundreds of millions of dollars in losses and damage from previous wildfires. That includes one that threatened a stash of radioactive waste stored on lab property in 2000. Watchdog groups say the federal government needs to take note of the audit's findings and do a comprehensive review before the lab ramps up production of key plutonium parts used in the nation's nuclear arsenal.


HOUSTON (AP) — Larger numbers of immigrant families have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the first weeks of President Joe Biden's administration. Warning signs are emerging of the border crises that marked former President Donald Trump's term: Hundreds of newly released immigrants are getting dropped off with nonprofit groups and there are growing accounts of prolonged detention in short-term facilities. Measures to control the virus have sharply cut space in holding facilities that got overwhelmed during a surge of arrivals in 2018 and 2019. To deal with the new influx, the Border Patrol on Tuesday reopened a large tent facility in South Texas to house migrant families and children. Meanwhile, long-term facilities for kids who cross alone are 80% full.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Members of the New Mexico House Education Committee are advancing a bill that would increase funding to school districts in Native American communities. The measure calls for ending a controversial credit. The current funding formula deducts 75% of federal dollars against what a school district would normally get from the state. Those federal dollars are sent to Indigenous and military communities to offset the lack of taxable land that normally pays for schools. Under the legislation, that money — around $60 million last year alone — would go back to schools. The committee advanced the bill in a 14-0 vote for further consideration.