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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MST


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democrat-backed bill to expand voting access in New Mexico has won a crucial endorsement from a Senate panel. The committee voted 7-4 along party lines Monday with Republicans in opposition to a bill that would make Election Day a holiday to encourage voting, streamline mail-in voting and further automate voter registration procedures at state government offices. The bill also would provide convicted felons with the opportunity to register to vote as they exit prison. Republicans Party leaders have raised concerns that the bill would increase opportunities for deceitful voting. Legislators have until Feb. 17 to send the bill a governor who supports the initiative.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An environmental group is supporting a U.S. Forest Service plan to put a dent in the feral cattle population on national forest land near the New Mexico-Arizona border. The Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement Monday that it "commends" the federal agency for trying to remove unowned, feral cows that can threaten sensitive habitat along streams and wetlands in the Gila Wilderness. The plan calls for wildlife agents to shoot down unbranded livestock from helicopters. The Center says unowned feral cows are "dangerous and destructive." Ranchers are concerned about the ability of the wildlife agents to distinguish branded from unbranded livestock.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe officials are asking the public to weigh in on the search for the city's next police chief. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the search has been narrowed down to 10 candidates. Kyra Ochoa, director of community health and safety, told the newspaper the city received 13 applications. No women applied. The current crop of candidates include interim Santa Fe Police Department chief Paul Joye and applicants from as far away as New Jersey and North Carolina. The city for the next two months will seek the public's opinion through panels, forums and surveys in English and Spanish. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a driver suspected in a December hit-and-run that left a 7-year-old boy dead in Albuquerque has been indicted. Prosecutors say 27-year-old Sergio Almanza of Belen is facing six charges in the case including homicide by vehicle, driving while under the influence, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and tampering with evidence. Almanza surrendered to authorities in southwest New Mexico seven weeks after the fatal crash. He remains jailed without bond and is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 14. Authorities say Pronoy Bhattacharya was with his family on Dec. 12 as they walked across a street. Police say Almanza was driving an illegal off-road vehicle and allegedly ran a red light before hitting the boy and then fleeing the scene.


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.


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.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Teddy Allen had 33 points and 11 rebounds as New Mexico State beat Seattle 79-64 on Saturday to seize control atop the Western Athletic Conference. Darrion Trammell scored 26 points for Seattle.