Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MST
- BC-NM-NEW MEXICO-INFRASTRUCTURE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced the appointment of Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim as the director of infrastructure and implementation. Ortiz-Wertheim comes into the role from the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management where she served as the cabinet secretary since May 2020. While at DHS, Ortiz-Wertheim managed the distribution of more than $100 million in federal grants to New Mexico's communities, funding investments in irrigation systems, electrical grids, and other critical infrastructure. In her new role, Ortiz-Wertheim will work directly with broadband and water advisors to organize and oversee major investments in New Mexico's infrastructure following the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last year.
- NEW MEXICO NURSING SHORTAGE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico had a nursing shortage even before the pandemic and advocates are now trying to convince lawmakers to boost funding to increase capacity at the state's nursing schools. Legislative analysts have estimated that New Mexico needs more than 6,200 nurses. Supporters say $15 million in state funding to support nursing schools and students could boost the number of students by about 1,500. Linda Siegle of the New Mexico Nurses Association told lawmakers Thursday that the state will have to dedicate the money annually if it's serious about addressing what many called a crisis. Panelists say the pandemic made the state's nursing shortage worse.
- NMSU PROVOST REMOVED
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Carol Parker is out as New Mexico State University provost two months after being placed on paid administrative leave. NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu disclosed in an email to university employees this week that Parker was no longer a university employee as of Jan. 21. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Arvizu thanked Parker for her service to NMSU and wished Parker "the very best in her future endeavors." Parker was placed on leave Nov. 9 after faculty and student organizations passed no-confidence resolutions calling for the removals of Parker and President John Floros. Floros earlier this month announced down he would step down, making Arvizu the sole top leader.
- EDUCATION GOVERNOR SUBSTITUTE TEACHER
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she spent several hours on Wednesday filling in for an elementary school teacher. The lessons at Salazar Elementry School were part of a program allowing state workers to fill in as substitute teachers, part of Lujan Grisham's stopgap efforts to deal with teacher shortages that have become a crisis because of COVID0-19. A spokesperson for Santa Fe Public Schools says she is the first volunteer in the district under the new program. Seven more are waiting to clear paperwork. National Guard soldiers started serving as substitutes in Hobbs and other cities this week.
- VOTING RIGHTS-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposed statewide holiday on Election Day. Automated restoration of voting rights for ex-convicts. More time to distribute and count absentee ballots. Democratic lawmakers have a lengthy wish list in New Mexico as they seek to expand access to voting after record-setting participation in the 2020 election. New Mexico's first Black state senator is Harold Pope of Albuquerque and he is cosponsoring the legislation with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe. Their bill was published Tuesday. Republicans warn the changes would lead to election fraud and confusion. The fast-paced 30-day legislative session ends on Feb. 17.
- 11TH AND 12TH DWI CONVICTIONS
A 44-year-old Gallup man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to DWI and other charges in two cases that resulting in his 11th and 12th DWI convictions. Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Maynard Miller on Monday pleaded guilty to DWI in each of the two latest cases and to nne count each of DWI-related driving while revoked and possession of a firearm by a felon. District Judge Robert Aragon said he felt both sympathy for Miller and relief that Miller would be off the street. The judge told Miller he was lucky to be alive.
- IMMIGRATION COURTS
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal labor authority has sought for a second time to strip the collective bargaining powers of a national union for U.S. immigration judges. In a ruling late last week, the Federal Labor Relations Authority determined that the country's more than 500 immigration judges can't belong to an employee union because they are akin to management. The move sparked outcry from the immigration judges since their employer, the Justice Department, under President Joe Biden isn't seeking to end the union in a marked contrast from the Trump administration. The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
- JAIL-STAFFING SHORTAGE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's most populous county is looking for help with staffing shortages at the Metropolitan Detention Center. Bernalillo County commissioners on Tuesday approved an emergency resolution outlining several potential ways to boost ranks at jail, from improving recruitment to requesting outside manpower. That might include seeking assistance from the New Mexico National Guard and exploring the use of medical school interns. Hiring enough correctional officers to fully staff the jail has been a long-term problem for the county that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. County officials said the staffing shortage has "impacted some operations" at the jail but they did not provide details.