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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • First confirmed case of COVID-19 variant on Navajo Nation
  • WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported three more confirmed COVID-19 cases and one additional death. The latest figures bring the pandemic totals on the tribe's reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, increased to 30,182 cases and 1,259 known deaths. On Tuesday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 B.1.429 variant on the Navajo Nation, which came from a test sample obtained in the Chinle Service Unit area.  The variant was first identified in the state of California and has since been detected across the southwest U.S. Nez says tribal members should continue to take all precautions to reduce the spread.
  • New Mexico signs family tax credit and 99 other bills

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed over 100 bills this week, inking changes in taxation, healthcare, education and voting. One tax bill being signed Tuesday expands rebates and tax credits for working families by increasing benefits and broadening eligibility. A healthcare bill prevents hospitals from suing broke patients. A round of education bill signings will reduce paperwork for home school and community college students pursuing a four-year degree. And when it comes to elections, voters can expect major changes in 2022. Like other states, New Mexico will draw new lines for voting districts. Lujan Grisham is signing a bill that sends redistricting to a non-partisan commission.

  • Tribes talk priorities with 'formidable guardian' Haaland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Native American leaders in New Mexico say they see U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as a "formidable guardian" and steward of their interests. The Laguna Pueblo woman is the first-ever Native American cabinet secretary. On Tuesday, she made her first official trip to her home state, where she met with tribal officials, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and members of New Mexico's congressional delegation. The round-table discussion highlighted federal coronavirus relief while underscoring the significance of Haaland's confirmation. Tribal leaders told the group their prayers were answered when Haaland was chosen to head the Interior Department, which has broad authority over Native Americans. 

  • Decision strikes key parts of Native American adoptions law

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A divided federal appeals court's has effectively struck down key parts of a law governing adoptions of Native American children. Tuesday's ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court finding that the Indian Child Welfare Act's preferences for Native American families in adoption cases are unconstitutional. It also said some of the provisions of the law "unconstitutionally commandeer" state officials' duties in adoption matters. The 1978 law has long been championed by Native American leaders as a means of preserving Native American families and culture. Opponents of the law include non-Native families who have tried to adopt American Indian children in emotional legal cases. 

  • Study: Drought-breaking rains more rare, erratic in US West

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet. That's the conclusion of a sweeping government study released Tuesday that finds the situation for the region is worsening. The most dramatic changes have been seen in the desert Southwest, where the average dry period between storms increased from 30 days to 45 days since the 1970s. The consequences of intense dry periods pummeling areas of the West in recent years have been severe: more intense and dangerous wildfires, parched croplands and not enough vegetation on the landscape to support livestock and wildlife.

  • Mesa Verde National Park designated as dark sky park

CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) — Park officials in Colorado say the Mesa Verde National Park has been designated the 100th International Dark Sky Park. The Cortez Journal reported the park said the certification would help foster astronomy-based recreation and tourism while improving energy efficiency and reducing operational costs in the park related to outdoor lighting. The designation also serves to highlight the spiritual and practical connections the Ancestral Puebloans had with night skies and stars. Mesa Verde National Park joins 169 International Dark Sky Places in 21 countries around the world.

  • New child support law brings New Mexico into compliance

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A measure signed into law Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham modernizes New Mexico's child support law, bringing the state into compliance with federal regulations and national best practices. State officials say the changes will keep New Mexico from losing out on more than $147 million in federal money. The law updates the child support guideline statute to align with federal rules that are based on the combined parents' actual income and the non-custodial parents' ability to pay. It also allows the state to focus on providing employment opportunities and job security to help non-custodial parents meet their obligations.

  • Police: Shootings at Santa Fe station 'isolated incident'

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A police official says two Santa Fe-area men shot, one fatally, at a commuter rail station were apparently known to the shooter or shooters and investigators were trying to locate a car seen in the area. Police Capt. Anthony Tapia said 24-year-old David Hernandez was the man killed Monday while the victim who remained hospitalized in critical condition was a 38-year-old man whose name was not released. Tapia said the vehicle of interest — a gray or silver small sedan, possibly a Nissan or Hyundai — was seen in the area with two occupants at about the time of the shootings.