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

  • $2.5B headed to tribes for long-standing water settlements

WASHINGTON (AP) — Native American tribes are awaiting a one-time windfall that could help deliver reliable, clean water to their residents. The federal infrastructure bill signed last month includes $2.5 billion for tribal water rights settlements. The Interior Department hasn't said how it will be doled out. But the agency says tribes included in more than 30 settlements are eligible. Among them is the White Mountain Apache Tribe in eastern Arizona. Congress approved the tribe's water settlement more than a decade ago. But the tribe says it hasn't received the money it needs for water storage, surface water treatment facilities and miles of water pipelines. 

  • Forecasters: New Mexico should brace for worsening drought

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The last three months have been very dry in New Mexico and it's going to get worse. That's the word from forecasters with the National Weather Service and other climate experts in the state. They said during a meeting this week that New Mexico reservoirs continue to be far below historical averages and that ranchers are bracing for a winter with little moisture out on the range. Some snow is expected in the higher elevations on Christmas Eve, but it will be less than the precipitation that has helped to ease drought conditions elsewhere in the West in recent weeks.

  • New Mexico governor signs legislation on medical malpractice

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed emergency legislation to tweak New Mexico's new law on medical malpractice to head off a possible loss of insurance coverage for some health care providers. Lujan Grisham's office said she signed the legislation Wednesday and appreciated that the Legislature acted on the issue during a recent special session on redistricting and pandemic relief. Officials said the new medical malpractice law, which takes effect Jan. 1, needed to be changed so that numerous physician-owned small businesses could keep their insurance coverage and stay open. A coalition of plaintiffs' lawyers, hospital officials, physicians and patient advocates supported the special session legislation. 

  • 2 sought in carjacking, fatal shooting of victim's brother

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque authorities are searching for two teenagers who are accused in a February carjacking that police said started with an online sting and that led to a fatal shooting. According to police, 24-year-old Elias Otero was killed in a confrontation with robbers who wanted a $1,000 ransom after his younger brother was lured into meeting a woman he'd met over Snapchat. The Albuquerque Journal reports that arrest warrants seek 18-year-old Anna Bella Dukes and a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of murder, kidnapping and other crimes, and police said they're trying to identify two other people. The Associated Press generally does not identity juveniles who are crime suspects.

  • US tribes see hope for clean water in infrastructure bill

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.