- BIDEN CABINET-INTERIOR SECRETARY
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A group of Native American tribes in a Minnesota congressman's district is rebuking him for his attempts to derail President-elect Joe Biden's pick for Interior secretary. If confirmed, Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico, would be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior. Republican Rep. Pete Stauber, a member of the House's subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples, has been asking fellow lawmakers to join him in urging Biden's transition team to withdraw Haaland's nomination. In a letter seeking support, Stauber cites Haaland's opposition to policies that he says would place a moratorium on mining in northern Minnesota.
- LEGISLATURE CONVENES-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Daunting challenges await the New Mexico Legislature as it convenes a 60-day session during the unrelenting pandemic. Lawmakers will meet at a Statehouse building guarded by troops and encircled by fencing, barricades and mobile security cameras. Proposals aimed at reviving the economy are at the top of political agendas for lawmakers in the Democratic-led House and Senate, as Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pushes for increased state spending on pandemic relief, education and health care. Lightning-rod initiatives also have been drafted that would allow recreational marijuana sales, shore up abortion rights and reform oversight of police forces. The session is scheduled to begin Tuesday at noon.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico said 628 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths were reported Monday. The latest numbers from the Department of Health bring the total known cases to 163,637 and deaths from COVID-19 to 2,958. Of the new cases, 161 are in Bernalillo County, the state's largest county that includes Albuquerque. San Juan County, which includes Farmington, had 62 new cases. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
- STATE OF STATE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has delayed indefinitely her annual State of the State address amid the dangers and logistical challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett says the speech will not take place at the opening of the Legislature on Tuesday as it traditionally would. Ordinarily, the governor of New Mexico delivers a speech about current events, recent government accomplishments and legislative priorities to a joint session of the House and Senate also attended by Cabinet secretaries and justices of the state Supreme Court. Governors including Wisconsin's Tony Evers have opted for remote, pre-recorded State of State speeches this year.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Officials on the Navajo Nation reported 65 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths. The latest figures released late Monday bring the total reported coronavirus cases on the reservation to 26,448, including 922 deaths. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that while people are getting vaccinated, it's crucial to keep in mind that another variant of the virus has been found in nearby regions. Nez says residents still need to remain vigilant and practice health safety measures like staying home. Residents of the vast reservation are still under a stay-at-home order Friday through Monday morning.
- DRAG RACING-ROAD CLOSURE
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Officials have closed a section of road on the Navajo Nation through the end of February due to concerns about persistent drag racing. The Farmington Daily Times reported Monday that the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Transportation closed 2.5 miles of Navajo Route 4178 near the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry farm and food product company. NAPI CEO Dave Zeller said drag racing has been an issue in the area for several years and is a safety concern for employees and travelers. Navajo Police Department spokeswoman Christina Tsosie says police resources and officers have been stationed in the area but officials need a long-term plan.
- BIDEN INAUGURATION-LUJAN GRISHAM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will not be attending President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration in Washington on Wednesday. Lujan Grisham's office told KOB-TV in Albuquerque that the Democratic governor does not plan to attend the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Washington, D.C., has been designated as a restricted place of travel for New Mexicans, requiring them to quarantine for 14 days upon returning from D.C. Lujan Grisham campaigned for Biden and was seen as a potential pick for several U.S. Cabinet posts. She has discouraged people from making any non-essential trips during the pandemic.
- ALBUQUERQUE SCHOOLS FINE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Public Schools officials say they are appealing more than $650,000 in fines from the IRS due to late tax form filings and payroll tax payments. The Albuquerque Journal reports that an audit found the district may face penalties of $666,379 for submitting late W-2 forms for 2018 and late payroll taxes payments for 2019. Director of accounting Ben Lubkeman says the late payroll taxes were caused by a human error and discovered four weeks later and then paid in full. He says the the W-2 forms were filed late after the due date was changed by law and officials missed the date change.