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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Democrat-led New Mexico state Senate has endorsed a new map for its own political boundaries that embraces recommendations from Native American communities for shoring up Indigenous voting blocs in the northwest of the state. The plan won Senate approval Thursday in a 25-13 vote. Republicans opposed the bill in unison, noting it would pit two incumbent Hispanic Republicans against each other for the same seat in the next election. The bill moves to the House for consideration. Democratic state Sen. Shannon Pinto, a Navajo Nation member from Tohatchi, described her vote for the bill as a gesture of appreciation for sovereign tribal nations.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have issued a search warrant for Alec Baldwin's cell phone, saying it could hold evidence that might be helpful as they investigate a deadly shooting on a New Mexico film set. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded in the Oct. 21 shooting on the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set near Santa Fe. Baldwin was holding the gun during rehearsal when it fired. He has maintained that he didn't pull the trigger, only that he had cocked the hammer. Authorities have been trying to determine where the live rounds found on the set came from. 


RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists are suing three federal agencies over an environmental review the government says satisfies requirements to resume killing coyotes, mountain lions and other wildlife in federally protected wilderness areas in Nevada. The move comes five years after the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services settled a similar lawsuit by suspending the operations intended to protect livestock from predators. The lead plaintiff, WildEarth Guardians, long has battled USDA over the predator management program that Congress approved in 1931 and costs U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually. It allows the department to eradicate a whole host of native species, including mountain lions, bears, wolves and coyotes "for the benefit of agribusiness."


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A spending bill is on it's way to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that would allocate $478 million in federal pandemic aid toward highways, internet infrastructure, tourism ads, hospital construction and more. The state House approved Thursday final changes from the Senate, sending the bill to the Democratic governor. The legislature is meeting in a special session to redraw congressional and legislative political districts to conform with population shifts in the 2020 national census. Lujan Grisham has urged quick deployment of federal relief aid. She has veto authority over any and all portions of the bill.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have denied a request by the state's largest electric provider to unload its shares in one of the Southwest's few remaining coal-fired power plants by transferring them to a Navajo energy company. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to reject the plan. Commissioners said Public Service Co. of New Mexico didn't specify how the lost power would be replaced. They also had concerns about investments that the utility sought to recover through bonds that would be paid back by customers over a 25-year period. The utility could appeal the decision.


NEW YORK (AP) — A former office worker for financier Jeffrey Epstein has testified at Ghislaine Maxwell's sex abuse trial that she didn't witness misconduct by Maxwell during the six years she worked with her. The testimony by the first defense witness on Thursday came after a New York City jury heard four women detail accusations that they were teens when they became victims of a sex-abuse scheme devised by Maxwell and Epstein. Maxwell's attorneys are expected to make their case that Maxwell isn't the one to blame. The British socialite's trial is moving along more quickly than originally expected. The judge now says the jury will likely get the case on Monday after closing arguments.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Most of New Mexico's congressional delegation has asked Capitol Hill for permission to invest more money into early childhood programs from its resource wealth endowment. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Melanie Stansbury are sponsoring legislation requesting permission that the change be allowed. The state needs permission from the federal government due to a colonial-era law. There's another hurdle, too. Voters have to approve the measure, which will be on the ballot next fall. If approved by voters and Congress, it would increase withdrawals from the $25 billion fund by 1.25% and beneficiaries including young children. Supporters say it would reduce child poverty.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico on Wednesday reported 1,357 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths as the numbers continue to rise. The latest figures pushed the state's totals to 334,332 cases since the pandemic began and 5,516 known deaths. On Tuesday, New Mexico had reported 788 new cases and seven deaths. Health officials said the state usually has around 50 coronavirus-related deaths per week, so the latest numbers are troubling. According to the state's latest weekly report, New Mexico added 7,953 new cases between Dec. 17-13. On top of that, New Mexico on Monday reported its first identified case of the COVID-19 omicron variant in a Bernalillo County woman.