- Use of plastic bags still allowed in Bernalillo County
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Bernalillo County will continue to allow for the use of single-use plastic bags amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. County manager Julie Morgas Baca first suspended the ban on plastic bags during a March 10 emergency meeting. She said the use of single-use bags should cut down on the possible spread of the coronavirus. The ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam containers took effect in unincorporated areas of the county on Jan 1. The city of Albuquerque, which has its own ban on plastic bags, is also temporarily allowing for their use. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised concerns Thursday about a recent uptick in COVID-19 infections.
- New Mexico Supreme Court chief justice postpones retirement
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The top judge on the New Mexico Supreme Court is postponing her scheduled retirement from the state high court until later in the year because of a late-emerging snag. Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said in early June she would retire July 31, but on Friday she said in a statement she had received unspecified "new information" from Public Employees Retirement Association that requires her to postpone her retirement. Nakamura's statement said she now plans to remain a Supreme Court justice "until later this year" and that the justices will elect a new chief justice on July 15.
- Virus concerns force cancellation of New Mexico State Fair
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials say they're heartbroken that the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to cancel this year's state fair. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised concerns Thursday about a recent uptick in COVID-19 infections in the state, indicating that it might be no-go for funnel cakes, turkey legs and the rest of the pageantry that makes up the annual September spectacle. The fair's general manager says it was a difficult decision. Other large events including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the Gathering of Nations Powwow and Santa Fe's art markets have been canceled. The state on Friday reported another 225 cases, bringing the total to more than 11,400.
- Judge: Alaska corporations can get tribal virus relief money
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share of coronavirus relief funding set aside for tribes. Congress included $8 million for tribes in a relief package approved earlier this year. Tribal nations sued to keep it out of the hands of Alaska Native corporations, arguing they didn't qualify. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., disagreed in a ruling late Friday. He said the corporations can be treated as tribal governments for limited purposes. Various tribes said they are reviewing the decision and deciding on the next steps. The Treasury Department didn't respond to a request for comment.
- New Mexico official says no to working with US border agency
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the New Mexico State Land Office has declined to renew a cooperative agreement with U.S. border authorities. Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said Friday that she instead is siding with community members who urged her not to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection over concerns about discrimination against people of color along the U.S.-Mexico border. Garcia Richard and fellow Democrats in New Mexico have been critical of the Trump administration's border policies. The agreement, first executed in 2015 under the Obama administration, also covers Arizona, California and Texas and involves other federal land management agencies, along with state and tribal governments.
- New Mexico governor signs 3 bills from special session
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The creation of a state commission on civil rights and changes aimed at ensuring access to Election Day polls on Native American lands are among the measures signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The governor on Friday also signed a bill authorizing the issuance of short-term bonds to help stabilize state finances amid the economic upheaval prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The three bills were among eight that lawmakers passed during the recent special session. Lujan Grisham still has to act on the budget solvency bill and one that would mandate police body cameras for nearly all state and local law enforcement officers.
- 3 die in New Mexico from drinking hand sanitizer
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say three people have died, three others are in critical condition and one person is permanently blind after apparently drinking hand sanitizer that contained methanol. The Department of Health said Friday that the cases were reported to the state poison control center. The first case came in early May. The others have occurred since May 29. The health department confirmed that the cases were related to alcoholism. Authorities have noted that people with substance abuse issues, particularly within the homeless community, have been known to use sanitizer and other products as a substitute for alcohol.
- Appeals court: Trump wrongly diverted $2.5B for border wall
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled against the Trump administration in its transfer of military money to build sections of the U.S. border wall with Mexico. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in two opinions Friday that diverting $2.5 from military construction projects to build the wall illegally sidesteps Congress, which gets to decide how to use the funds. The rulings are the latest twist in a legal battle that has largely gone Trump's way. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed the $2.5 billion to be spent while the litigation continued, blunting the impact of the latest appeals court action.