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- LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — High-stakes decisions on spending, voting access, public education and criminal justice await New Mexico legislators during their upcoming 30-day legislative session. Legislators will convene Tuesday. New Mexico state government has a multibillion dollar general fund surplus thanks to federal pandemic relief and a surge in oil production and natural gas prices. The state is simultaneously contending with shortages of teachers, police and nurses, a spike in urban violence and concerns about the fragile status of American democracy and the environment. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Democrat-led legislature are promising to increase spending, cut tax rates and improve public health and safety.
PHOENIX (AP) — A man who escaped from a Colorado jail in late December and who was sought in the subsequent non-fatal shooting of a New Mexico police officer a week ago was arrested Friday in Arizona. Farmington police said Phoenix police got a tip and arrested 22-year-old Elias Buck early Friday morning at a convenience store. Buck was sought in Farmington in the Jan. 7 wounding of Officer Joseph Barreto during a possible DWI investigation. The Durango Herald reports that Buck previously scaled a fence and escaped Dec. 27 from jail in Durango after being arrested Dec. 7 on suspicion of motor vehicle theft.
- INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — With billions of federal dollars heading to New Mexico for infrastructure projects, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says rural areas can't be left behind. The governor made the comment Friday during a virtual summit attended by more than 200 municipal officials from around the state. She said the goal is to ensure that administrative requirements and other bureaucratic hoops don't keep small communities from accessing the money. Local officials talked about needs that ranged from water system upgrades, road work, improved broadband connectivity and health care services. In all, officials have said New Mexico will receive $3.7 billion in federal funding. That includes more than $350 million over five years for water infrastructure projects.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — City and state officials have decided to postpone Saturday's planned Martin Luther King Jr. march in Albuquerque because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Officials said the in-person event was being postponed out of an abundance of caution. They also said a Federal Emergency Management Agency bus will still be at Civic Plaza to administer vaccines and on-site testing. In another development, the University of New Mexico starting Tuesday will require face coverings worn by students and employees to be of more protective medical or health grade. The stiffened mandate will require three-ply or better medical and health procedure masks.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Around 75,000 New Mexico schoolchildren are missing school Friday for the second day after a cyber attack hit the state's largest school district on Wednesday. At least five other school districts have suffered costly cyber attacks in the past two years, according insurance officials who cover school losses. Schools in Las Cruces were digitally crippled for months after an attack in 2019. One target of the attack was the school's student information database, the same target of the attack against Albuquerque Public Schools, which was discovered on Wednesday as teachers prepared for class. But Las Cruces didn't cancel class, it moved duties like attendance to paper records.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO-NATIONAL GUARD
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor said Thursday she's considering seeking help from the National Guard to address COVID-19 staffing shortages at public schools, a move that could mark a first in the nation. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday the state has been in discussions with the Santa Fe school district, which was forced to plan for remote learning next week. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that starting next week, 1,000 military medical personnel will begin deploying across the country to help overwhelmed medical facilities ease staff shortages due to the highly transmissible omicron variant. Lujan Grisham confirmed that one of the teams will be stationed at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
- NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE-CRIME
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she's aiming to put a wedge in the revolving door that many have blamed for persistent violent crime and record homicides in the state's largest city. The Democratic governor joined other elected leaders in Albuquerque on Thursday to highlight a few of the public safety proposals that will be pushed during the legislative session that begins Tuesday. The measures include enhanced penalties for some crimes and a shift in New Mexico's pretrial detention system that supporters claim would ensure the most dangerous defendants charged with violent crimes remain behind bars pending trial.
- ALBUQUERQUE HOMICIDES
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Amid growing concern about violent crime in New Mexico's most populous city, Albuquerque police say detectives responded to three different homicide scenes in a 10-hour span overnight. Police said the first homicide victim was a man whose daughter called 911 to report he'd been shot at a home early Wednesday evening . According to police, the shooter left the scene before officers arrived. Police said the second homicide involved a man found dead at a motel after officers responded to a report of gunfire shortly before midnight. The third killing involved a person found dead in an alley behind a business early Thursday morning.