Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- COVID-19 TESTING FACILITY CLOSURES
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two New Mexico COVID-19 testing sites that were not on the list of facilities approved by state public health officials have closed indefinitely. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the New Mexico Attorney General's Office said in a statement it will investigate the Illinois-based operator, Center for COVID Control. The operator ran roughly 300 testing sites nationwide including one in Santa Fe and one in Albuquerque. According to its website, sites are closed so that all staff can undergo more training. Center for COVID Control has been plagued with allegations including listing insured patients as uninsured. The Rolling Meadows, Illinois company is facing state investigations elsewhere.
- UNSALARIED LEGISLATURE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The nation's only unsalaried legislature in New Mexico is considering whether to abandon its amateur status. A proposed constitutional amendment from Democratic Sens. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque and Bobby Gonzales of Taos would enable the state's 112 legislators to collect salaries. The proposal was scheduled for its first vetting Monday in front of a Senate panel. Approval by the New Mexico Legislature would send the measure to a statewide vote. New Mexico's "citizen legislature" of volunteer politicians has long been a source of civic pride in the state. Members receive a roughly $165 daily stipend during sessions and some money for gas.
- TAX LAW-CITY LOSSES
HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — A southeastern New Mexico city is pushing to amend a state law that municipal officials say is resulting in an unintended loss of gross receipts tax revenue for their community. The measure passed by the New Mexico Legislature and enthusiastically signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2019 included complex changes to state tax laws. Among other things, it was billed as a way to help communities by requiring companies to pay gross receipt tax where services are provided rather than where the companies are located. Hobbs City Commissioner Dwayne Penick says the city could possibly be looking at losing $20,000 to $25,000 a month because of the destination tax.
- NEW MEXICO-TEACHER SHORTAGE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Educators gathered outside the state Capitol on Sunday, hoping lawmakers hear their plea that something be done to address New Mexico's teacher shortage. The rally was part of what union officials have dubbed the "3 Rs" campaign — respect, recruit and retain. In an online petition, organizers say the historic level of vacancies across all positions within the state's education system could jeopardize learning for generations of New Mexico students. They say there are more than 1,000 vacant licensed positions in the state and that those vacancies represent over 20,000 students without a well-trained, permanent classroom teacher.
- BC-NM-ALBUQUERQUE HOMICIDES
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police in Albuquerque police say they're investigating two homicides that occurred within hours of each other. They say the first was reported around 8:30 a.m. Saturday in southeast Albuquerque where a woman was found dead in an apartment. Hours later, police say a man was found dead inside a home after reports of a shooting. Police have not said of the two cases are related and there's no word yet on any possible suspects. The names of the man and woman killed haven't been released yet.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials have distributed masks and hand sanitizers in the community of Shiprock, New Mexico to help keep local residents safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile Saturday, tribal health officials reported 330 new cases and four more deaths on the vast reservation that covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. On Friday, the tribe had reported 500 new cases and one death. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals since the pandemic began to 47,959 cases with 1,607 known deaths. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez recently issued an executive order mandating all employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination booster shot by Monday.
- POWER PLANT-APPEAL
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric provider is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a decision by regulators and let the utility proceed with a plan to transfer its shares in a coal-fired power plant to a Navajo energy company. A filing Friday by Public Service Co. of New Mexico suggested that the Public Regulation Commission acted "arbitrarily, capriciously and contrary to law" and misinterpreted a 2019 law that encourages PNM to replace coal-fired plants with renewable forms of energy. The commission in December rejected PNM's proposal, saying the company didn't explain how it would replace power now provided by the Four Corners Power Plant.
- REDISTRICTING-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Republican Party says it has filed a legal challenge to New Mexico's recently approved political map that reshapes the state's three congressional districts. The lawsuit was filed Friday in a Roswell-based state district court. In a news release, the state Republican Party said the state's new congressional map would dilute Republican voting strength. Consultants to the Legislature say the new congressional map gives Democrats an advantage in all three districts to varying degrees. Republicans need a net gain of five seats in 2022 to take control of the U.S. House and effectively freeze President Joe Biden's agenda.