- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico schools make plans for virtual, hybrid learningALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Albuquerque school board has rejected a proposal aimed at partially returning students to the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic as part of a hybrid learning model. The board voted 4-3 against hybrid learning, keeping the district virtual through the end of the year with limited in-person groups. The board also approved a measure to allow some groups in-person instruction, including students at risk of failing or seniors who need additional help. In Las Cruces, school officials rolled out their plan this week. It allows high school students who opted to return to attend class in person two days a week as early as Monday.
- NEW MEXICO WEATHER
Wintry weather hinders drivers in parts of New MexicoALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Snowfall early Thursday caused slick driving conditions in parts of New Mexico, including Albuquerque where police shut down some freeway ramps during the morning commute. The National Weather Service said the heaviest accumulations were expected in the Raton Pass area on the New Mexico-Colorado border and along and just east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Glorieta Mesa and Glorieta Pass. The Albuquerque Police Department said officers shut down eastbound I-40 off-ramps from San Mateo Boulevard to Eubank Boulevard due to extremely icy conditions and multiple vehicles sliding off the road. Service on some Albuquerque bus routes was delayed or restricted.
- PANDEMIC RELIEF-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico Senate considers $200 million in business reliefSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill is headed toward a state Senate vote that would provide $200 million from the state general fund to thousands of businesses that experienced income declines in 2020. Scheduled for a crucial vote Thursday, the bill would provide individual grants of up to $100,000 without repayment to businesses for the reimbursement of rent, lease or mortgage obligations. The proposal from Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf and allied state Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos stands among a long list of bills aimed at reviving the local economy as New Mexico emerges from the pandemic. New Mexico's current emergency health order places restrictions on most businesses and limits public gatherings.
- SPACEPORT AMERICA CUP
2021 Spaceport America Cup to be virtual event in New MexicoSIERRA COUNTY, N.M. (AP) — Spaceport America and partner Experimental Sounding Rocket Association say this year's Spaceport America Cup will be held as a virtual event on June 18-20. It was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say this year's event will be an online competition and technical conference with student teams from across the globe completing to win awards. One team will be selected as the overall 2021 Virtual Spaceport America Cup winner. In addition, teams will participate in interactive poster session reviews, hear from special guest speakers, and participate in forums on a variety of topics. The Spaceport America Cup is one of the largest intercollegiate rocketry engineering contests and has been held in New Mexico since 2017.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
Navajo Nation reports 27 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deathsWINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials reported 27 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday with two additional deaths. The latest numbers bring the total number of cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,336 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,114 reported deaths that were related to COVID-19. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that even those who have been fully vaccinated need to continue taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus. The tribe has a nightly curfew in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to limit the spread of the virus.
- STATE BUDGET-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico foresees more state income from oil in short runSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A rebound in oil and natural gas prices is changing the outlook for state government finances in New Mexico as the Legislature drafts a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. A team of economists from three state agencies and the Legislature said Wednesday that state government income is likely to increase by $339 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1 to a total of $7.55 billion. State government income would exceed current annual spending obligations by 2.3% if the new estimate holds true. Senate Finance Committee Chairman George Muñoz of Gallup said the state could be in a precarious financial situation when federal relief ends.
- NUCLEAR WEAPONS-PRODUCTION
Groups ask Biden for wider environmental review of nuke workALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Watchdog groups want the Biden administration to reconsider a decision by a U.S. agency not to conduct a more extensive environmental review related to production of the plutonium cores used in the nation's nuclear arsenal. The renewed request comes as federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina face a deadline of making 80 cores per year by 2030. Jobs and billions of dollars in government spending are at stake. The National Nuclear Security Administration said it has no plans to revisit the environmental review. But the agency has confirmed that its approach to plutonium core production is among the programs under review as the new administration takes over.
- LEGISLATURE-THREATEN OFFICIALS
Political violence inspires New Mexico billSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — High-profile cases of political violence are inspiring a group of lawmakers to protect public officials from threats. New Mexico State Senators are advancing a bill that would further prohibit threatening public officials or directly interfering with their work. In discussing the bill, Sen. Joseph Cervantes referenced the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. capitol, in which rioters said they wanted to hang the vice president. The proposed law may overlap with existing criminal statutes. A man who threatened violence against New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been sentenced to jail. Obstruction of public officials is already a misdemeanor.