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Local and State News

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


  • CAPITOL BREACH-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A Farmington man arrested for his acknowledged presence inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot says he is surprised that he now faces criminal charges. Shawn Witzemann told KOB-TV that he looks forward to being exonerated and called the charges against him false. He said he has a defense for his presence in the Capitol, though he declined to explain. Authorities say Witzemann provided investigators with three videos he took while in the building. His attorney has said Witzemann is a plumber who also is also a freelance journalist and that his client didn't participate in any violence during the riot.

  • GOVERNOR-HARASSMENT SETTLEMENT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New campaign finance filings show that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's political committee has paid $62,500 to settle allegations by a former campaign employee that he was sexually harassed by the governor. Lujan Grisham's re-election campaign spokesman Jared Leopold on Tuesday confirmed the settlement involving payments to a law firm representing James Hallinan. Hallinan worked as a spokesman for Lujan Grisham's 2018 campaign for governor and accused Lujan Grisham of dropping water on his crotch and then grabbing his crotch during a meeting of campaign staff. Leopold says the settlement resolves "dubious and disputed" potential claims by Hallinan to avoid the distraction and cost of litigation. 

  • NEW MEXICO FOREST PLAN

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Restoring forests, using fire as a management tool and getting more buy-in from private land owners are among the strategies outlined in New Mexico's latest forest action plan. The state Forestry Division released the plan Monday. The federal government requires each state to update the plans every decade. Officials say the latest version includes steps for how New Mexico can work with the federal government and other groups as part of a shared stewardship initiative. The document also identifies areas that are priorities based on wildfire risks and their importance as sources for water.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

SANTE FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Department of Health is pausing administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in response to a federal recommendation stemming from reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said Tuesday the state and the federal government are "acting out of an abundance of caution." Collins said state officials will share more information as they learn it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said the federal government was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. 

  • OFFICER DEATH-WIDOW LAWSUIT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The wife of a New Mexico State Police officer fatally shot in the line of duty in February has filed a tort claim notice to the state seeking damages. That's one of the first steps in filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Gabriella Jarrott alleges that her husband Darian Jarrott was told to conduct a dangerous traffic stop without backup and was not informed about details of the investigation. She said that led to his death. New Mexico State Police last Friday made public video of the Feb. 4 shooting that showed Jarrott pulling over the suspect. State Police spokesman Mark Soriano said an investigation is ongoing.

  • 2020 CENSUS

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Sixteen states are backing Alabama's challenge to a new method the Census Bureau is using in an effort to protect the privacy of people who participated in the head count. A judge on Monday allowed the 16 states to file briefs in a support of a lawsuit brought by Alabama last month. Alabama's lawsuit seeks to stop the Census Bureau from adding intentional errors to the data. Bureau officials say the change is needed to prevent data miners from matching individuals to confidential details. The states are Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

  • INFRASTRUCTURE-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has the highest percentage of residents in the U.S. Southwest without adequate broadband internet infrastructure. The Biden administration on Monday released details about each state's infrastructure needs for everything from internet access to highways, affordable housing and drinking water projects. In New Mexico, the federal government estimates that 22% of residents live in areas where there's no broadband infrastructure that provides acceptable internet speeds. Nearly 70% live in areas where there's only one such internet provider. The coronavirus pandemic highlighted broadband problems as schools turned to remote learning and other services were forced to go online only.

  • NEW MEXICO TOURISM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The idea of adventure steeped in culture has fueled New Mexico's award-winning tourism campaign for more than a decade. That won't change, but state Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer says it's time to refresh the brand ahead of what she said will be a "complete rebirth of New Mexico's tourism economy" as more people are vaccinated and more public health orders are relaxed. Schroer unveiled the new "New Mexico True" logo and tagline during a virtual announcement Tuesday. The goal is to reignite demand following a year in which New Mexico lost out on more than $3 billion in visitor spending.