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

  • Revamped New Mexico 3-seat congressional map advances

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic legislators have advanced a plan to overhaul New Mexico's three-seat congressional map and reshape a southern district traditionally dominated by Republicans. The map proposal from Democratic Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces would bolster a Hispanic majority in New Mexico's southern 2nd Congressional District by extending its boundaries into Albuquerque, which is the state's largest metropolitan area. The new map would break into multiple districts a conservative stronghold in the state's southeastern oil production zone that now forms the 2nd Congressional District. That change is condemned by Republicans. The redistricting plan has implications for New Mexico's slate of three first-term congresswomen, including Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell.

  • Navajo Nation reports 70 new COVID-19 cases, 1 more death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 70 more COVID-19 cases and one additional death. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's total cases since the pandemic began to 40,254 and the known death toll to 1,557 including five delayed reported fatalities. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has again called for everyone on the vast reservation to get a booster shot and wear masks. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • New Mexico regulators reject proposed utility merger

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Global energy giant Iberdrola's proposed multibillion-dollar acquisition of New Mexico's largest electric provider has been unanimously rejected by state regulators. The Public Regulation Commission voted Wednesday to deny the merger. All five elected commissioners agreed the deal would not be in the public's interest. They cited concerns about customer service and reliability issues in other states where Iberdrola subsidiary Avangrid operates. They also pointed to the company initially withholding information during the proceeding, a move that resulted in a $10,000 penalty. Supporters had argued that bringing Iberdrola and Avangrid on board would boost the ability of PNM Resources to develop more renewable energy.

  • Fiebelkorn, Grout win Albuquerque council runoff elections

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn and Republican Renee Grout were winners in Tuesday's runoff election that settled the last two positions on the Albuquerque City Council's nine-member legislative body. Grout and Fiebelkorn will join four previously elected Democrats and three Republicans. According to unofficial results, Fiebelkorn defeated Lori Robertson by a wide margin to represent District 7 and will succeed fellow Democrat Diane Gibson. Gibson decided not to seek reelection after serving two terms. Grout earned a narrow victory over Democrat Rob Grilley in District 9. She will take over from Don Harris, a Republican who is stepping aside after four terms in office. The Democrats' current 6-3 advantage will slip to 5-4 when the new council is seated in January. 

  • New Mexico lawmakers want $100M for 'alternative broadband'

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposed bill in the New Mexico state House would set aside $100 million for "alternative broadband," high-speed internet that isn't transmitted by cables. Buried in the ground, traditional broadband is expensive and time consuming. New Mexico is already experimenting with new ways to deliver internet ranging from blimps to TV broadcast signals. The new funding would accelerate similar pilot projects. Other priorities in the spending bill include road construction, state parks renovations, and money for food banks. It's funded by $1 billion in pandemic aid. A state court recently ruled that the Legislature, not the governor, must allocate it.

  • COVID cases spike even as US hits 200M vaccine milestone

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The U.S. has reached a COVID-19 milestone of 200 million fully vaccinated people, but cases and hospitalizations are still spiking, even in highly immunized pockets of the country like New England. The situation is not as dire as last year's post-holiday surge before the public had any access to vaccines, but experts say the roughly currently 60% vaccinated U.S. population is not enough to prevent hotspots. And the winter weather, Thanksgiving holiday and pandemic fatigue are all playing a role. At the same time questions remain about the role of the new omicron variant. 

  • Cash payments to teen girls described at Maxwell trial

NEW YORK (AP) — A former boyfriend of a woman who says she was paid to give sexual favors to Jeffrey Epstein starting at age 14 corroborated parts of her account at the sex trafficking trial of the millionaire's longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell. The man said Wednesday on multiple occasions in the early 2000s he drove three girls he knew to Epstein's estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The teenagers would emerge an hour later with $100 bills. The girls included a woman who testified Tuesday that she made hundreds of dollars giving sexualized massages to Epstein. Maxwell's lawyers say she wasn't aware of any sexual misconduct.

  • New Mexico preps for future shortages on Pecos River

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top water official has outlined a plan for dealing with future shortages on the Pecos River in southeastern New Mexico. State Engineer John D'Antonio in a recent order called the situation urgent. Water managers have been augmenting supplies in the region by pumping groundwater. That has allowed farmers to irrigate crops and New Mexico to make good on its water-sharing agreement with Texas. But officials are warning that pumping might not be enough in the years to come given the persistent drought. The latest outlook shows much of the Southwestern U.S. can expect drought to stick around at least through February.