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New Mexico bill allows testing to prevent fentanyl deaths
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is allowing broad access to test strips that can detect the presence of the potent opiate fentanyl and potentially help avoid deadly overdoses, under legislation signed Monday by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The bill from Democratic legislators in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos lifts restrictions on public access to devices that can test for drug impurities. Overdoses in New Mexico increasingly are linked to the ingestion of drugs laced with fentanyl. Separately, Lujan Grisham signed a legislation that provides new or expanded preferences on state contracts to bids by Native American-owned businesses based on tribal lands, resident-owned businesses and military veterans.
New Mexico Supreme Court to consider stream access case
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case over whether the public has a right to fish or float on streams and other waterways that flow through private property. While the debate over stream access has been ongoing across the West for years, the New Mexico court could provide more clarity once it rules on a pending petition filed by a coalition of anglers, rafters and conservationists. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for reelection, has been careful to walk the line on the stream access issue. Some critics say that's because of political campaign contributions by wealthy landowners.
Pressure mounts for language services at New Mexico agencies
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico welfare agencies are coming under new pressure from a federal judge and state lawmakers to expand translation and oral interpretation services to minority households that don't speak English or Spanish. Advocacy groups for immigrants and Indigenous populations on Monday announced that a federal judge based in Las Cruces has ordered the state Human Services Department that oversees food stamp and Medicaid benefits to change its automated phone system to offer access to benefits in additional languages. New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Legal Director Sovereign Hager says residents who speak Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Dari, Arabic and Swahili struggle to find adequate language services to apply for benefits.
Hobbs woman accused of throwing baby away faces more charges
HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — State prosecutors have filed charges of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse against an 18-year-old Hobbs woman accused of throwing her newborn baby into a trash container two months ago. The child survived the Jan. 7 incident. Alexis Avila, a Hobbs High School student, allegedly put her baby boy in multiple plastic bags filled with trash before throwing the bag into a dumpster in freezing conditions behind a city business. She pleaded not guilty to charges five days later and a Lea County judge ordered her to house arrest pending her trial. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Monday that Avila was being "bound-over on the crimes of attempted first degree murder and child abuse resulting in great bodily harm."
Supreme Court to review Native American child adoption law
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has agreed to review a case involving a federal law that gives Native Americans preference in adoptions of Native children. The high court said Monday it would take the case involving the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a law championed by Native American leaders as a means of preserving their families and culture. The law gives Native American families priority in foster care and adoption proceedings involving Native children. A federal appeals court in April upheld the law and Congress' authority to enact it. But the judges found some of the law's provisions unconstitutional. Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and seven individuals had sued over provisions in the law.
New Mexico horse racing dispute spurs ethics complaint
An advocacy group that represents thousands of racehorse owners has filed an ethics complaint against New Mexico racing and gambling regulators. The New Mexico Horsemen's Association claims multiple state laws have been violated. The association says the Racing Commission and Gaming Control Board are attempting to silence its members amid an ongoing battle over control of purse money. The association cited recent administrative changes that cleared the way for New Mexico's private racetrack-casino operations to collect, manage and disperse purse money with insufficient oversight. Officials with the Racing Commission dismissed the allegations and claimed that the panel is following state statutes.
Rape victim sues city of Albuquerque over rape kit backlog
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A rape survivor is suing the city of Albuquerque over its backlog of untested rape kits, alleging a nearly decade-long delay allowed her rapist to freely attack other women. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that the victim is asking for unspecified damages in the lawsuit. In the suit, the victim says Albuquerque police discriminated against women and girls by treating violent rapes as a low priority. When asked to comment, a police spokeswoman pointed to Mayor Tim Keller signing an executive order in 2018 to clear the backlog. The victim gave a rape kit in 2010. Her kit was not tested until 2018.
1 dead, 2 others hurt after a shootout near Albuquerque park
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say one person is dead and two others injured after a shootout near a southwest Albuquerque park. City police say officers police responded to reports of multiple people shot near Westgate Community Park on Saturday night. They say there was an exchange of gunfire between an unknown number of people. Police say one person was found dead at the scene. Two other people had to be taken to the hospital, with one of them listed in critical condition. Police say homicide detectives have started an investigation into the shooting.