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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST

  • New Mexico may tax tickets to space on Virgin Galactic

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Pity the poor space flight passenger: Flying up up and away from Earth could get even more expensive as New Mexico lawmakers consider taxing the tickets on Virgin Galactic. A bipartisan bill in the state Legislature would close a loophole excluding spaceflight passenger tickets from gross receipts taxes. The move aims to harvest revenue as Virgin Galactic prepares for regular commercial service. The company told investors it had about 700 reservations already. With the ticket price of $450,000, the tax would be at least $31,000. Virgin Galactic said it will continue working with the state to grow aerospace in New Mexico.

  • New Mexico considers clampdown on violent criminal cases

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Mothers who lost their sons to violence are telling New Mexico lawmakers that something has to be done. Prosecutors from around the state say judges need more information to determine if defendants are too dangerous to be released while waiting for their trials. The mothers testified Monday as the debate over the state's pretrial detention system began in the Legislature. They argued that proposed legislation would ensure the most dangerous suspects accused of murder, rape or other violent crimes remain behind bars. Civil rights advocates, public defenders and others have concerns about the constitutionality of the proposal and say it would generate more legal challenges.

  • 2 unapproved New Mexico COVID-19 testing sites shut down

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

Some legislators in New Mexico tire of amateur statusSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The nation's only unsalaried legislature is considering whether to abandon its amateur status. A New Mexico Senate panel on Monday endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that would enable the state's 112 legislators to collect salaries. 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. Proponents of legislative salaries say steady pay would attract more young candidates from working households to serve as lawmakers and alleviate some conflicts of interest.

  • New Mexico tax law unintentionally cuts into city revenues

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 educators rally amid growing 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.

  • 2 homicides occur within hours of each other in Albuquerque

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.

  • Navajo officials distribute masks and sanitizers in Shiprock

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.