Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT
Vegas water intake now visible at drought-stricken Lake Mead
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The water supply for Las Vegas has marked a milestone, with a water intake breaking the surface of drought-depleted Lake Mead and the activation of a new pumping facility to draw water from deeper in the crucial Colorado River reservoir. The Southern Nevada Water Authority released photos this week of the uppermost intake visible at the lake behind Hoover Dam. The agency says a deeper intake completed in 2020 that's called the third straw continues to let Las Vegas pump water from its primary supply while the lake level continues to decline. The moves come as several states relying on the Colorado River take new steps to conserve water amid ongoing drought and climate change.
Calmer weather conditions in northern New Mexico are helping over 1,000 firefighters battling the nation's largest active wildfire. They are trying Saturday to prevent it from getting closer to the state's small city of Las Vegas, where ashes fell. Strong winds pushed the fire Friday across some containment lines and toward the city of 13,000. A fire operations official said the fire's rapid growth to 152 square miles forced crews Friday to repeatedly change positions because of dangerous conditions. No injuries were reported. The official says improved weather Saturday would allow air support for ground crews as bulldozers clear containment lines. The fire has burned at least 166 homes.
New Mexico's Gathering of Nations powwow back after pandemic
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — What is billed by organizers as the world's largest powwow is being held in person in Albuquerque for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The Gathering of Nations is returning following all-virtual powwows in 2020 and 2021. Friday's festivities included a grand entrance, with hundreds of dancers forming a procession that filled the arena at the state fairgrounds. The event wraps up late Saturday with the crowning of Miss Indian World. In 2019, the Gathering of Nations drew more than 80,000 people from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Organizers say it also led to an economic impact of $24 million.
New Mexico legislator to pay $250 fine in ethics settlement
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico state representative has agreed to pay a $250 fine under a settlement with the State Ethics Commission stemming from a drunken driving arrest. The commission said Albuquerque Democrat Georgene Louis violated the state Governmental Conduct Act by seeking favorable treatment from police during her Feb. 13 arrest in Santa Fe by mentioning that she is a legislator. Under the settlement, the commission agreed not to seek a civil enforcement action against Louis, accusing her of violating the act. Louis has apologized for her "lapse in judgment" and announced she won't run for reelection this year. She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated DWI,.
Increase in child care subsidies
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is increasing child care subsidies that are already the most generous and broadly available in the U.S. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the state will start waiving child care copays to middle-income families starting May 1. Child care is basically free in the state for low-income families. The expansion of the program is funded with about $40 million in one-time federal funds. Since last June, New Mexico had offered the most generous subsidies to the broadest set of families in the country. The new announcement means that child care will not only be cheaper but basically free for families of four earning around $100,000.
New Mexico resolves 1987 lawsuit by developmentally disabled
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A legal battle aimed at providing adequate services to people with developmental disabilities in New Mexico has come to a close after more than three decades. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday that a final court order recognizes the state's establishment of a community-based system that protects the health and safety of intellectually and developmentally disabled New Mexico residents. The case stems from a class-action lawsuit that alleged civil rights violations on behalf of developmentally disabled residents at two state-supported institutions. Those facilities closed years ago, but the state's obligations continued under federal government oversight.
Democrats weigh additional tax cuts amid financial windfall
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The lead state budget negotiator in the New Mexico House of Representative wants lawmakers to consider reducing or eliminating taxes on personal income. Democratic state Rep. Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup made the proposal in a newsletter this week distributed by the Legislature's budget and accountability office. The proposal was met Thursday with concern among Democrats that New Mexico's overall tax burden might shift toward lower-income residents. Personal income taxes are a fast growing source of revenue for the state, propelled by a newly increased top rate of 5.9% on higher incomes.
Big US energy transmission projects inch closer to approval
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. government has finished another environmental review of a proposed multibillion-dollar transmission line that would send wind-generated electricity from rural New Mexico to big cities in the West. The U.S. Interior Department also announced Thursday plans to review two other projects designed to funnel renewable energy across parts of Utah and Nevada. The regulatory steps come a day after the Biden administration announced a $2.5 billion initiative to make the nation's power grid better able to withstand catastrophic disasters caused by climate change. The project in New Mexico has been more than a decade in the making. A final decision is expected this summer.