- Republicans, Democrats deeply divided over pandemic response
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican congressional candidate in New Mexico has endorsed a slimmed-down proposal for a federal COVID-19 rescue package and is urging the state's Democratic governor to provide residents with more discretion to reopen the economy. Michelle Garcia Holmes made the comments at a rally Wednesday in support of President Donald Trump's bid for re-election in Albuquerque. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was scheduled to testify Thursday remotely to a congressional committee about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on her state government's budget and critical needs for federal aid to states to ensure economic recovery.
- New Mexico frustrated with slow cleanup of radioactive waste
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — There's growing frustration among New Mexico lawmakers and environmental regulators about the U.S. government's slow pace in cleaning up contamination from decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The officials are concerned about taking a backseat to other states, saying legal action might be New Mexico's only leverage against the U.S. Energy Department. A federal official told lawmakers that since January, only five shipments of waste had been sent from Los Alamos to the government's underground repository. Meanwhile, the Idaho National Laboratory is sending two to three waste shipments a week as part of the nation's multibillion-dollar cleanup program for Cold War-era waste.
- Manufacturer Xxentria to relocate facility to New Mexico
SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — A Taiwanese manufacturer of metal composite materials has announced it is relocating a distribution facility to a booming New Mexico border town. New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said Thursday the Xxentria Technology Materials Company has purchased land for its facilities in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, with a production plant planned in Chihuahua, Mexico. Keyes says the move was made after she met with company officials in Taiwan last year. Xxentria is a major producer of galvanized steel and aluminum composite panels for both the transportation and architecture industries. Keyes says the company plans to bring around 35 new jobs to the state.
- New Mexico agency seeks opinion on spaceport policies, taxes
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's top economic development officials are asking the New Mexico attorney general to review policies and procedures that govern spending and contracts at Spaceport America. Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes made the request in an email sent Tuesday to Attorney General Hector Balderas. The request is a result of her agency's investigation into the conduct of spaceport chief executive officer Dan Hicks. He was placed on administrative leave earlier this summer after a whistleblower complaint accused him of circumventing internal financial controls and accounting procedures. Hicks has declined to comment on the allegations, citing the ongoing investigation.
- New Mexico teachers safe from legal liability amid virus
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are reassuring teachers that they can't be sued by students who get the coronavirus as some of them head back to the classroom. Like most public servants, teachers are protected by insurance that covers court costs. Officials with the state's school insurance authority say it's too soon to say how great the risk of lawsuits against schools will be. Many large districts have opted to stay online for now. But Tuesday marked the first day of in-person learning for some younger students in 20 districts and charter schools around the state.
- GOP hits Torres Small on Green New Deal she says she opposes
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Republicans have released another attack ad on Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico's southern district even as she earns support from a traditionally conservative-leaning group. The National Republican Congressional Committee this week unveiled a new commercial blasting the Las Cruces Democrat's pledge to "work with anyone" while taking campaign contributions from environmental organizations. The GOP group says those environmentalists support the Green New Deal _ something Torres Small says she opposes. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week endorsed Torres Small over Republican challenger Yvette Herrell in the closely watched race. The chamber gave Torres Small high ratings for bipartisanship.
- Free lunches continue for New Mexico students
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — School is still virtual for most students across New Mexico but school lunches are available in person. The U.S. Department of Agriculture decided this week that summer lunch programs will continue for all students, even those who haven't qualified for free lunch. Most of the state's 89 school districts have no in-person learning, though a few elementary schools started Tuesday. Instead of serving meals in cafeterias, schools are distributing meals using empty buses. The governor's office says 13 million meals have been distributed since March. Funds remaining from summer food programs can be used until they run out.
- 6 Western states blast Utah plan to tap Colorado River water
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Six states in the U.S. West that rely on the Colorado River have rebuked a plan to build an underground pipeline to transport billions of gallons of water to Utah. In a joint letter Tuesday, water officials from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming urged the federal government to halt the approval process for the pipeline until the states could resolve concerns about the potential effect on future water supplies. Utah has the right to use additional river water under agreements between the states. But critics argue that diverting more water will jeopardize the river as it faces threats from persistent drought and climate change.