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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MST

  • Heinrich, Lujan vote to convict Trump in impeachment trial

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial ended Saturday with an acquittal as both of New Mexico's two Democratic senators voted in a majority that fell short of the two-thirds needed for conviction. Sen. Martin Heinrich said Jan. 6 was a "violent and bloody attack on our democracy (that) was cultivated by months of Donald Trump repeating a completely baseless lie of election fraud..." Sen. Ben Ray Lujan said he "took no pleasure" in voting to convict Trump but said there was "no doubt that the former president did everything in his power to overturn the results of the 2020 election."

  • Storm system to pummel New Mexico with snow, winds, chill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Forecasters on Saturday warned that a strong storm system will blanket much of New Mexico with snow while pummeling the state with wind chills from strong winds and plummeting temperatures. The National Weather Service said several inches of snow were expected Saturday night through Sunday and that wind blowing through gaps in the central mountain chain will have gusts up to 60 mph in canyons. According to forecasters, record-breaking cold temperatures are likely, especially across eastern New Mexico. They said "dangerously cold wind chills" are expected Sunday and Sunday night and that road conditions are expected to quickly deteriorate as snow accumulates through Sunday.

  • Settlement reveals New Mexico utility funded political group

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The parent firm of the largest utility in New Mexico has funded a group that spent more than $130,000 on political advertisements in highly contested Democratic legislative primary election races last year. PNM Resources, the parent firm of Public Service Company of New Mexico, had financed the Council for a Competitive New Mexico. The disclosure was made public on Friday as part of a settlement agreement that involved the New Mexico Ethics Commission agreeing to drop a lawsuit it had filed in December. The commission also agreed to waive any civil penalties against the group and will not require it to register as a political committee.

  • Roswell to temporarily close convention center

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — City officials have announced the Roswell Civic & Convention Center will temporarily close in April due to a lack of funding from low hotel occupancy caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Roswell Daily Record reported that City Manager Joe Neeb said the city will not budget for operations at the center in its next fiscal year, which begins in July. Neeb said the company that manages the center was informed on Jan. 20 about terminating the agreement as of April 20. The closure is based mainly on hotel occupancy figures, currently about 35% capacity. The state on Saturday reported 571 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths. 

  • New Mexico weighs new investments in early education

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic legislators in the state House have voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that could funnel more than a billion dollars toward early childhood education over the next six years in New Mexico. The Democratic-dominated House on Friday endorsed the initiative that would tap an additional 1% share each year from the state's $20 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund and expand beneficiaries to include prekindergarten. A competing Senate proposal would increase trust distributions to K-12 education. Approval of the House plan would set the stage for compromise negotiations.

  • Supreme Court upholds pandemic procedures at Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected a Republican challenge to emergency procedures in the state House of Representatives that have moved hearings and deliberations almost entirely online as a precaution against COVID-19. The high court declined to hear the lawsuit from leading Republican House legislators on Friday in a shortly worded order. Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says that emergency legislative procedures that rely heavily on videoconferencing are necessary in light of the pandemic. He says more people are participating in online legislative hearings than could possibly fit physically into committee rooms under normal circumstances.

  • Navajo Nation reports 66 new virus cases Friday, 6 deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials on Friday reported 66 new COVID-19 cases and six more deaths. The most recent numbers on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah bring the total number of cases to 29,167 an deaths to 1,103 since the pandemic began. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez issued a statement reminding people that a mask mandate is in place on the reservation and he encouraged the wearing of two masks after a U.S. government study this week found that wearing two masks can be better than one in protecting against coronavirus spread. 

  • Permission to Waive Standardized Testing 

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials are asking for permission to waive standardized testing for the second year, citing the difficulties of the pandemic. The New Mexico Public Education Department says it will encourage school districts to voluntarily administer tests that cover reading, math and science comprehension. The department acknowledges that a volunteer-based assessment might not allow for a scientific sample of students. Legislative researchers have called on the department to assess students as soon as possible, saying policymakers need to know how students are doing. In a report last fall, they estimated students had lost three to 12 months of learning over the summer.