- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico schools make plans for virtual, hybrid learningSANTA FE, 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 ENERGY FUTURE
Utility financing bill clears New Mexico Senate panelSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A measure aimed at saving customers money when utilities opt to close power plants and recover lost investments has narrowly cleared its first legislative hurdle. A New Mexico Senate panel voted 5-4 Thursday to advance the bill. Supporters of the legislation say it would clear the way for other utilities to use the same financing mechanisms that were afforded Public Service Co. of New Mexico under the state's landmark Energy Transition Act. In the case of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, PNM was allowed to recover its lost investments with $361 million in low-cost bonds that will be paid for by ratepayers.
- COAL PLANT CLOSURE-TAXES
Navajo plant closure to cost Arizona county $40M in taxesFLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Officials in Coconino County say the closure of a coal-fired power plant in far northern Arizona has led to a loss of $40 million in property tax revenue. The Navajo Generating Station in Page shut down in 2019, and three towering concrete stacks were demolished in December. Coconino County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairwoman Lena Fowler says organizations that are funded through property taxes also will be impacted by the plant's closure. The generating station once provided electricity to Arizona, Nevada and California. The plant's owners decided to close it as natural gas became a cheaper source of energy.
- 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 endorses $200 million for business grantsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Senate has endorsed a bill that would provide $200 million from the state general fund to thousands of businesses that experienced income declines in 2020 on a 41-1 vote. Endorsed Friday, the bill would provide individual grants of up to $100,000 without repayment to businesses for the reimbursement of rent, lease or mortgage obligations on property located in New Mexico. The bill returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments. 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.
US reverts to targeted immigration enforcement under BidenWASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is giving new marching orders to U.S. immigration authorities. Guidelines released Thursday direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take a more targeted approach than under President Donald Trump. The guidelines are similar to what was done under previous administrations and prioritize for removal people in the country illegally who pose a threat to national security, have committed a specified list of serious crimes or recently crossed the border. Trump directed ICE to target anyone in the country illegally. It's part of President Joe Biden's broader effort to move away from the immigration policies of his predecessor.
- 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.