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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MST

  • Plan to gun down feral cattle spurs concern among ranchers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One national forest near the New Mexico-Arizona border has had a problem with feral cattle for years. Federal wildlife agents plan to put more of a dent in the population next week by gunning down the animals via helicopter. But the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association is concerned about the agents' ability to delineate branded from unbranded livestock. There also are concerns that leaving cow carcasses on the landscape will only help attract wolves and put livestock at greater risk of predation. Federal officials say the unbranded and unauthorized cattle pose a threat to the environment and need to be removed from within the Gila Wilderness.

  • New Mexico voting bill stalls in Democratic-led Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state Senate panel has delayed action for a second time on a Democrat-backed bill to expand voting access in New Mexico with provisions to further automate voter registration, streamline mail-in voting, turning Election Day into a state holiday and more. The initiative stalled in a nine-hour legislative hearing marked by fiery public comments and a marathon debate. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham backs the changes. Republican legislators sought to derail major provisions. At least 19 states have enacted voting restrictions since the 2020 election. The national GOP campaign to tighten voting laws has been partly driven by former President Donald Trump's false claims that the election was stolen.

  • Reward offered for information on damage to petroglyphs site

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico nonprofit wilderness group is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever was responsible for spray-painted graffiti and other damage to petroglyphs dating back thousands of years at a site west of Santa Fe. The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance says anyone with information about the damage to La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs should call the Bureau of Land Management's dispatch center. The BLM said last month the damage likely occurred Jan. 18 and that it was under investigation. According to the BLM, those convicted of damaging cultural sites face penalties of up to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine per charge under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

  • New Mexico House endorses billion-dollar budget boost

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State House lawmakers in New Mexico have endorsed a $1 billion increase in general fund spending to reinforce health care for the poor, teacher salaries, environmental regulation, policing and more. Lead House budget negotiator and Democratic Rep. Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup says the spending plan uses a surge in state government income to improve education, bolster public safety and spur economic growth in a state with the highest rate of childhood poverty in the American West. House Republican emphasized their support for companion tax cuts. Legislators clashed on the Senate floor over a Democrat-sponsored bill to reduce climate-warming pollution from the transportation sector by establishing a low-carbon fuel standard. 

  • Tribes: Settlement in opioids case will foster healing

Money that will flow to Native American tribes as part of an opioid drug settlement with a major manufacturer and three distributors won't come quickly. But tribal leaders say it will play a part in healing their communities from an epidemic that has disproportionately killed Native Americans. Tribes have responded to the opioid crisis with healing and wellness centers, additional tools for law enforcement and an emphasis on culture and tradition. Many of the financial resources have been thin. Each of the 574 federally recognized tribes will be eligible for a share of $590 million from the settlement, even if they weren't part of lawsuits.

  • Storm leaving New Mexico but leaving bitter cold, icy roads

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A major storm was leaving New Mexico on Thursday but leaving bitterly cold temperatures and roads slick from ice and packed with snow, prompting closures of schools in several cities and nonessential government services in Albuquerque. The National Weather Service canceled winter storm warnings as conditions improved but urged drivers to be cautious as subfreezing temperatures made travel hazardous. State police said a pileup along Interstate 40 on Wednesday left one woman dead and five others injured. Public schools were closed Thursday in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho due to icy road conditions and Las Cruces switched to remote learning.  Albuquerque closed government offices, senior centers and libraries.

  • Court: Minutes-long assault didn't justify kidnapping charge

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal court on Thursday overturned a man's kidnapping conviction stemming from his assaulting his girlfriend for seven minutes, ruling that the time he restrained the victim while beating her was too brief to be charged separately. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Giordano Jackson of Teesto, Arizona, be resentenced on his assault conviction stemming from the July 2017 incident.. In a a separate but related decision, the court upheld Jackson's convictions for first-degree murder and other crimes in his fatal beating of the same woman, Alvina Nez, in September 2017. Jackson was sentenced to life in prison for killing Nez. 

  • Voter access, election bills inch forward in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two election initiatives are inching forward in the New Mexico Legislature with the support of state election regulators. One is aimed at expanding voter access and another is designed to shore up election administration and oversight. Democratic state Senate majority leader Peter Wirth urged colleagues on a Senate panel to expand voting access under a bill that makes Election Day a state holiday, streamlines procedures for voting by mail and further automates voter registration. Separately, the full Senate debated a bill to shore up election procedures and oversight as voting habits shift toward mail-in ballots.