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Nov 18, 2020
  • LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new leader has emerged atop the Republican minority contingent in the New Mexico state Senate. Sen. Gregory Baca of Belen was chosen as Republican minority leader during a caucus meeting on Tuesday. The leadership slot previously was held by Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales. Democrats successfully defended Senate and House majorities in the general election. Political jockeying is underway for the Senate president leadership position that wields influence over committee assignments. Baca is an attorney and war veteran who represents a district spanning most of Valencia County, the Native American community of Isleta Pueblo and portions of Bernalillo County.

  • ELECTRIC VEHICLES-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would add 28 electric vehicles to its fleet for state agencies under a budget request to legislators from the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Adding the electric vehicles would cost about $1 million under a request from the General Services Department. Agency Secretary Ken Ortiz on Tuesday urged a panel of legislators to include the spending in draft legislation. He says the transportation sector is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after electricity. General Services is nearing completion of 30 charging stations at state campuses in Santa Fe as it modernizes the state motor pool and reduces carbon emissions.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has hit a new high in virus deaths and infections. State officials reported 28 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday and over 2,000 new confirmed cases. Meanwhile, education officials are working to locate 12,000 students who have disappeared from public school rolls and haven't said why they left. Schools in New Mexico are funded based on the number of students they have on the 40th day of the school year, so the emerging exodus could result in a drop in school funding. The Public Education Department is trying to track down those 12,000 students and enroll them if possible.

  • STATE FINANCES-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators are keeping a wary eye on trends in oil prices and production as the number of active drilling rigs and new wells has plummeted from pre-pandemic levels, threatening a crucial source of state income amid the coronavirus pandemic. A report from the budget and accountability office of the Legislature found that drilling for new petroleum wells in New Mexico's share of the Permian Basin declined precipitously. Spending cuts are proposed next year at a variety of state agencies to help conserve financial resources. New Mexico's governor says she wants to call a special legislative session to provide new economic relief to the unemployed and hard-hit businesses.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-SKI RESORTS

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Multiple ski resorts in New Mexico have delayed opening in response to state-mandated COVID-19 lockdown orders that went into effect on Monday. The regulations by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are expected to continue through Nov. 30. Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley were originally scheduled to open on Thanksgiving Day. Ski Santa Fe General Manager Ben Abruzzo says the resort now plans to open as soon as it can. Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort would have become the first ski resort in the state to open its doors on Friday. Marketing Manager Christiana Hudson says staff are now preparing to increase safety measures.

  • ALBUQUERQUE POLICE CHIEF

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest city is looking for its next police chief and seeking community input as the process moves forward. Albuquerque staff and a specialist hired to help with the search have been meeting with community members and organizations. They've also posted a survey online to collect comments. Mayor Tim Keller says the city wants to know what residents would like to see in their next police chief. The city has been dealing with high crime rates and its police force has been working on reforms for years under the guidance of the U.S. Justice Department and a federal monitor.

  • NAVAJO-HEMP FARMS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. attorney's office says it destroyed a quarter-million plants during marijuana eradication efforts at 21 farms in the Shiprock area of the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. A Monday news release from federal prosecutors says the raids by U.S., state and tribal law enforcement took three days to carry out and involved more than 1,100 makeshift greenhouses. In one instance, 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana was discovered under a tarp. The news release makes no mention of arrests or charges. In October, more than a dozen people were arrested on drug charges at a motel in the area.

  • CATHOLIC BISHOPS

Last week the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops congratulated Joe Biden on his presidential election victory. Now Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez is sounding a different tone, saying some of Biden's policy positions including support for abortion rights pose a "difficult and complex situation" for the church. At the same time, Gomez welcomes many of the president-elect's stances, such as on immigration and racial justice. During an online national meeting of bishops Tuesday, Gomez said he is appointing a working group to examine the dilemma. Some conservative bishops were upset last week by Gomez's congratulations to Biden, who will be the second Catholic president.