Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- TAX CUTS-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators are introducing competing proposals to do away with New Mexico's tax on income from Social Security benefits as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham throws her political weight behind the concept in an election year. About a dozen states tax Social Security benefits in some fashion. In New Mexico, personal income taxes apply to Social Security benefits. Lujan Grisham on Thursday signaled her support for an immediate and full tax exemption for Social Security income, under a bill from Democratic Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque. That fiscal relief would be concentrated among higher earning individuals.
- COLORADO RIVER-TRIBAL WATER
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Native American tribe has agreed to lease more of its water to help address dwindling supplies in the Colorado River Basin. The agreement announced Thursday involves the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and The Nature Conservancy. Tribal water administrator Daryl Vigil highlighted the need for creative solutions as the drought-stricken basin faces more pressure. He described the agreement as a novel project that could serve as a model for other tribes. In Arizona, some tribes have played an outsized role in shoring up water supplies as that state deals with mandatory cuts in its Colorado River allocation.
- NAVAJO NATION-SOLAR
CAMERON, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona utility and the Navajo Nation are partnering on a new solar plant to be built on the reservation. The tribe had approved the lease for the Salt River Project last year. The utility and the tribe signed a power purchase agreement Thursday for the 200-megawatt plant in Cameron. About 400 people will be employed during construction, with a hiring preference for Navajos. The tribe has a handful of utility-scale solar plants on the reservation, including one in the works near Red Mesa. Two others in Kayenta produced a total of 55 megawatts, with the power going to Navajo homes and businesses.
- SCHOOLS-TEACHING RACE
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico's social studies standards has stirred debate over how race should be taught, with thousands of parents and teachers weighing in on changes that would dramatically increase instruction related to racial and social identity beginning in kindergarten. New Mexico officials say they hope their standards can be a model for social studies teaching that is culturally responsive as student populations grow increasingly diverse and states around the country look to update course offerings.
- TEACHER SHORTAGE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is asking National Guard troops and state bureaucrats to volunteer to serve as substitute teachers as preschools and K-12 public schools struggle to keep classrooms open amid surging COVID-19 infections. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced an unprecedented effort to reopen classrooms in the capital city of Santa Fe and shore up staffing across the state. Her administration says school districts and preschools are seeking at least 800 substitute teachers and day care workers for shifts ranging from one classroom period to the entire day. School districts will decide whether military personnel appear in uniform or casual dress.
- SMITHSONIAN-AMERICAN INDIAN MUSEUM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Indigenous New Mexico woman has been named to lead the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. Cynthia Chavez Lamar will be the first Native American woman to serve as the museum's director when she takes over Feb. 14. She's currently the acting associate director for collections and operations. Chavez Lamar is an enrolled member at San Felipe Pueblo and an accomplished curator, author and scholar whose research has focused on Southwest Native art. The museum's collection includes more than 1 million objects and photographs and more than 500,000 digitized images, films and other media documenting Native American communities, events and organizations.
- SLAIN SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Air Force airman convicted of kidnapping and killing a Mennonite woman was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison. Mark Gooch was convicted of kidnapping Sasha Krause from northwestern New Mexico, fatally shooting her and leaving her body in a forest clearing outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The 22-year-old was sentenced almost exactly two years from the day Krause went missing. The two didn't know each other but both grew up in Mennonite communities — Krause in Texas and Gooch in Wisconsin. Krause joined the church, but Gooch rejected the faith.
- THUNDERBIRDS-TRAINING SITES
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — The Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force's aerial demonstration squadron, have begun a monthlong training trip to New Mexico and Arizona in preparation for their 2022 show season. The unit based at Nellis Air Force Base in metro Las Vegas arrived last week at the New Mexico Spaceport near Truth or Consequences for two weeks of training and will then shift to Fort Huachuca, an Army base in Sierra Vista, Arizona, for the trip's second training leg. The training is not open to the public. The team will next train with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California.