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Local and State News

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

  • Pandemic leaves tribes without US recognition at higher risk

As COVID-19 disproportionately affects Native American communities, many tribal leaders say the pandemic poses particular risks to tribes without federal recognition. Lacking a political relationship with the United States means those tribes are denied federal coronavirus relief funding for state, local and tribal governments. Without federal funding, tribal leaders say they are less-equipped to prevent infections and curb the significant economic toll the pandemic has had on their communities. Tribes seeking federal recognition also face a long, expensive process that makes the designation often feel out of reach.

  • New Mexico seeks pot legalization amid discord on oversight

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Several proposals to legalize marijuana are competing for support in the New Mexico state Senate with three weeks left to send a bill to the governor. There's widespread support among lawmakers for creating a taxed and regulated market for recreational sales. Efforts to legalize marijuana took center stage Saturday as a Senate panel grappled with how the state might effectively stamp out illicit marijuana, prevent child access and foster a competitive marketplace and job growth. The debate marked a tantalizing moment for proponents of marijuana legalization after voters last year ousted hardline opponents in the Legislature. A Republican legalization proposal is shifting discussions toward an emphasis workplace safety and low-taxes that stamp out the black market.

  • New Mexico House speaker seeks dismissal of ethics complaint

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys for New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf have asked the State Ethics Commission to dismiss a complaint that a retired judge filed against the Santa Fe Democrat over his sponsoring legislation potentially helping his law practice. The complaint filed by Aztec resident Sandra Price accuses of Egolf of sponsoring legislation that would financially benefit his legal practice without disclosing the conflict of interest. Egolf is a co-sponsor of pending legislation to open the way for civil rights lawsuits to be filed in state district court against state and local public officials. The dismissal motion filed Friday by Egolf's attorneys called the complaint frivolous and unsubstantiated.

  • Outside investigators approved to help Albuquerque police

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge has approved an order proposing the creation of an outside team to assist the Albuquerque Police Department with investigations into officer-related use of force cases. The Albuquerque Journal reported that U.S. District Judge James Browning signed off on the order after a federal court hearing on Friday. The U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Albuquerque proposed hiring an administrator and an undetermined number of investigators to assist the police department's internal affairs force division in cases where police officers use force causing injury, hospitalization or death. The city hopes to have an administrator in place in May to start hiring the team. 

  • Navajo Nation reports 23 new coronavirus cases, four deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has continued on a downward trend in the number of daily coronavirus cases. Tribal health officials on Friday reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. The latest numbers bring the total to 29,710 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll is 1,165. A curfew remains in effect for residents on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to prevent the spread of the virus. Health facilities on the reservation and in border towns are conducting drive-thru vaccine events or administering doses by appointment.

  • New Mexico coach Paul Weir stepping down at end of season

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Paul Weir is stepping down as New Mexico's basketball coach at the end of the season. In a statement posted Friday on the program's website, athletic director Eddie Nunez said the school and Weir mutually agreed to part ways after the season. The Lobos — 6-14 overall and 2-14 in the Mountain West — will play their regular-season finale at Colorado on Wednesday and take part in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, starting March 10. Weir is in his fourth season as coach of New Mexico. He has a 58-61 overall record with the Lobos, including a pair of 19-win seasons.

  • Southern New Mexico man gets prison term in kidnapping case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 28-year-old southern New Mexico man has been sentenced to over 12 years in prison for a kidnapping conviction stemming from a 2019 armed abduction involving an attempted robbery. The U.S. Attorney's office said Joshua Neil Bowen of Alto was among five people who pleaded guilty to kidnapping in the case. The office said the kidnapping victim was abducted from a travel center in Mescalero and first taken to Chaparral, New Mexico, near the U.S.-Mexico border and then to El Paso, Texas and finally to Las Cruces. According to police, that's where the victim was rescued by police after being held at a motel before managing to call his son for help. 

  • No artwork damaged in flooding at Hispanic cultural center

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at the National Hispanic Cultural Center say no artwork was damaged after two waterlines froze and broke in mid-February. The building sustained some minor flooding during a cold snap that hit Albuquerque. Crews were able to clean up water near the center's front entrance and inside the Visual Arts building within hours. The director of the Art Museum and Visual Arts program says staff moved artwork to other areas within the center. None of it was damaged. The artwork now is being returned to its original location.