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

  • Infrastructure bill to aid US tribes with water, plumbing

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (AP) — The massive infrastructure bill signed earlier this year promises to bring change to Native American tribes that lack clean water or indoor plumbing through the largest single infusion of money into Indian Country. It includes $3.5 billion for the federal Indian Health Service, which provides health care to more than 2 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives. It also delivers money for water projects through other federal agencies. Tribal leaders say the funding is welcome but won't make up for decades of neglect from the U.S. government. A list of sanitation deficiencies includes more than 1,500 tribal projects, from septic systems to pipelines. 

  • New Mexico urges caution for holidays amid virus threat

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say COVID-19 transmission rates remain high across the state and they're urging people to be cautious over the holiday weekend. They also acknowledged during a virtual briefing Wednesday that the public will need to learn to live with the virus and take action to reduce risks for older people. The warning comes as workplace safety regulators are investigating the death of a third employee of Santa Fe's local bus system who was infected with COVID-19. State officials said that New Mexico's death toll since the pandemic began has topped 5,700 and that every county is experiencing high spread rates.

  • Lawmakers want to study costs, benefits of public power

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — More than a dozen New Mexico lawmakers are petitioning state regulators to study the potential costs and benefits of publicly owned electrical power for the state. The petition was made public Tuesday. The lawmakers want to make their case before the Public Regulation Commission during a meeting next month. The request comes after the commission recently issued two major rejections involving the state's largest electric provider. One involved the proposed exit of Public Service Co. of New Mexico from a coal-fired power plant and the other was a proposed multibillion-dollar acquisition of the utility by global energy giant Iberdrola.

  • New Mexico utility appeals decision on coal power plant

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric provider is appealing a recent decision by state regulators to reject a proposal to transfer its shares in a coal-fired power plant to a Navajo energy company. The Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously against the proposal earlier this month, saying Public Service Co. of New Mexico didn't specify how the lost power would be replaced. Commissioners also had concerns about investments that the utility sought to recover through bonds that would be paid back by customers. PNM filed its notice of appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday. The utility argues the plan would protect customers.

  • Online DNA profile leads to suspect in 1997 New Mexico rape

Prosecutors in Albuquerque say they tracked down a suspect in a decades-old rape case by using open-source genealogy data. Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez announced an arrest Tuesday in the case from 1997. The Albuquerque Journal reports that it's the second time the office has fileed charges using online genetic profiles. Torrez says his office hired a contractor in the latest case who matched DNA collected from a fork the suspect discarded to online data. Torrez says the suspect's DNA has been linked to several other rapes. 

  • Navajo Nation reports 10 more COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is reporting 10 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the vast reservation but no additional deaths. The figures released Tuesday pushed the total number of cases to 40,856 since the pandemic began. The death toll remained at 1,576. Tribal President Jonathan Nez urged residents to get vaccinated and a booster shot to build a defense against variants, including omicron. Vaccines do not prevent people from getting coronavirus, but health officials say the shots are effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death. 

  • New Mexico governor signs spending of federal pandemic aid

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor has signed a nearly $500 milling spending bill that draws on federal pandemic relief funds. The funds will help the state expand high-speed internet access, bolster roads, upgrade state parks, expand nurse training programs and help teachers pay off their student debts amid a shortage of educators. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday approved all proposed spending measures in the bill and vetoed a requirement that local governments contribute to related affordable housing projects. A bill-signing ceremony in Belen marks a truce in a lengthy standoff between the governor and a handful of state senators over which branch of government can allocate $1.7 billion in federal pandemic aid.

  • Albuquerque police launch crackdown on off-road vehicles

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police are launching a crackdown on off-road vehicles being driven on streets and highways. Police officials announced Monday that officers are being instructed to cite and tow all off-road vehicles being driven illegally, with no exceptions. Police noted that a 7-year-old boy was killed when struck by an off-road vehicle on a city street earlier this month as his family used a crosswalk. An arrest warrant has been issued for a 27-year-old man in that case. Deputy Chief Mike Smathers said police have noticed an increase in off-highway vehicles being driven on city streets over the past year.