- Demand surges for absentee ballots across New Mexcio
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voters across New Mexico have submitted nearly 250,000 absentee ballot requests with especially strong demand among Democrats for alternatives to in-person voting amid the pandemic. State election regulators on Thursday also said initial vote tallies could extend beyond Election Day if voters wait until late in the cycle to mail or hand deliver ballots. Fewer than 8,000 absentee ballots were cast statewide in the 2016 presidential election. In other pandemic developments, the governor cited a slight increase in the rate of spread for COVID-19 statewide and more substantially signs of spread in areas including Albuquerque and Sandoval County.
- New Mexico subsidies keep child care afloat despite virus
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Child care providers say a government agency formed in July has helped them stay afloat despite the coronavirus pandemic. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department recently expanded child care subsidies to groups left behind under previous rules, such as remote workers and students. This week, eligibility for child care assistance was extended to graduate students. Co-payments also have been waived for months now. Providers and parents say elevating the new agency to a cabinet-level department has led to better communication and more efficiency, resulting in improved services for children.
- Arizona man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter charge
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say an Arizona man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with a car crash in New Mexico and is facing a federal prison sentence. They say 28-year-old Maroquez Clah of Red Valley entered his plea Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. Clah remains on release pending a sentencing hearing that hasn't been scheduled yet. Prosecutors say Clah is facing a prison term of up to eight years followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Clah was arrested on Feb. 14 on an indictment charging him with involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors say Clah was driving under the influence of alcohol and was involved in a crash that killed another man.
- Silver City expo for mine employees out of work by pandemic
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Western New Mexico University and Chino Mine's parent company are co-hosting an expo next week to help mine employees put out of work by the coronavirus pandemic. The Silver City community's first drive-through training expo is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Officials with Freeport-McMoRan and the university say advisers will provide services and give personal consultations to mine employees and contractors. The university is waiving application fees for all expo attendees and expediting the admission application process during the two-hour event. Western New Mexico's mining industry has been hit hard by the economic downturn.
- Push to reopen private schools arrives in federal court
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge is weighing whether pandemic-related occupancy limits for private schools in New Mexico violate constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of assembly. A federal judge heard preliminary arguments Wednesday without ruling in a case being closely watched by educators and the Trump administration. The lawsuit by the father of a 7th-grader at a prep school in Albuquerque says the state is violating the U.S. Constitution by setting more stringent limits at private schools regarding in-person instruction. President Donald Trump has threatened to divert federal funding away from public schools that decline to reopen.
- 3 states added to New Mexico's high risk list
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Travelers arriving in or returning to New Mexico from Colorado, Oregon and Rhode Island will be required to quarantine for 14 days in a bid to manage the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham added those three states to New Mexico's list of "high risk" states on Wednesday based on coronavirus positivity rates and per capita infections. In all, there are 39 states on New Mexico's list of high risk states. People who can show documentation of a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours before or after entry into New Mexico from another state are exempt from the quarantine requirement.
- New Mexico governor wants longer Census count if Biden wins
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says that states may push for a special census enrollment period next year if President Donald Trump leaves the White House. The comments came at a recent meeting of the governor's advisory council on racial injustice. A new council meeting was scheduled Wednesday. A federal judge is weighing whether the 2020 Census count will end early on Sept. 30 or continue through the original Oct. 31 deadline. A coalition of cities and civil rights groups argues that ending the census early will lead to an inaccurate count that overlooks minority communities.
- New Mexico objects to license for nuclear fuel storage plan
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico is strongly objecting to a recommendation by federal nuclear regulators that a license be granted to build a multibillion-dollar storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S. State officials in a letter submitted Tuesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the site is geologically unsuitable and regulators have failed to consider environmental justice concerns. A group of state lawmakers also has raised concerns. New Jersey-based Holtec International wants to build what it has described as a state-of-the-art complex that could one day hold as many as 10,000 canisters of spent nuclear fuel.