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Local and State News

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


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill to shore up abortion rights in New Mexico by repealing a dormant ban on most abortion procedures has won Senate approval on a 25-17 vote. Female senators took the lead Thursday in presenting the Democratic-sponsored bill that would repeal a 1969 statute. The bill moves to the House of Representatives where it has broad support. Left in place, the abortion ban might 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.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico state House has passed unanimously a bill that would reduce liability for landowners who use controlled burns to reduce the risk of wildfires. The bill eliminates double damages and other liability provisions codified in territorial law in 1882. That was 20 years before New Mexico became a state and about 100 years before residents became aware of global warming. The state is on track to face severe fire risk in 2021. This time last year, no part of the state faced "exceptional drought," the highest level on the USDA drought intensity scale. Now over half the state does.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is headed to Washington to meet with President Joe Biden and other governors about COVID-19 relief efforts. It marks her first trip out of the state since the pandemic began and comes just days after the state ended its quarantine requirements for visitors and residents returning to New Mexico. The governor's office says Lujan Grisham will be advocating for more federal funds and for continued increases in vaccine shipments. Lujan Grisham said earlier that week that the state is pushing for federal approval for mobile clinics that would be capable of administering the vaccine in more remote and underserved parts of the state.


ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The Republican Party of New Mexico has called on a state representative who disaffiliated with the party to resign. State Rep. Phelps Anderson earlier this month left the Republican Party after voting in favor of a Democratic-backed abortion bill. Anderson, who represents portions of the Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt counties, sided with seven Democrats in repealing a 1969 abortion law that bans and criminalizes the procedure. He then changed his party voter registration to "decline to state." The executive board of the state GOP voted unanimously on Tuesday to request Anderson's resignation. Anderson declined to comment to the Roswell Daily Record on Wednesday.


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.