- ELECTORAL COLLEGE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce says democracy has been tarnished by unanswered questions about the 2020 vote count, which state officials called a false narrative. His statement Thursday stops just short of repeating President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud. Pearce says the state Republican Party recognizes Congress' certification of the the victory by President-elect Joe Biden. But he says he has unanswered questions about the vote count, voting machines and drop boxes for absentee ballots. A spokesman for the secretary of state's office says New Mexico's election was independently audited and that Pearce and the Republican Party "should be ashamed of themselves for continuing false narratives."
- NEW MEXICO ENERGY FUTURE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A solar project meant to provide 10% of Gallup's electricity for the next two decades is falling short of expectations. The issues with the solar farm come as utilities attempted to meet a statewide requirement in 2020 for having 20% of retail electricity sales come from renewable energy sources. Not all of them met the goal. Utilities will be under more pressure going forward as the Energy Transition Act sets a higher bar in 2025 and subsequent years. Executives with Public Service Co. of New Mexico are confident about meeting the mandates and said reliability and affordability will be among the considerations.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO BUSINESS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging the state Supreme Court to reject demands that businesses be compensated for losses linked to pandemic-related public health orders. Final written arguments were published Thursday as the high court weighs whether financial compensation is due to businesses in response to the state's public health orders that ban mass gatherings and prohibit business activities such as indoor dining. Businesses have scaled back or closed their doors as state health officials struggle to contain the coronavirus amid widespread testing for infection and the rollout in December and January of the first vaccine doses.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has launched a new hotline to answer questions related to vaccine registration. as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state neared 152,000. State officials said Thursday that callers can ask questions about the registration process or get help signing up. The state in recent weeks created a website where people can register to get the vaccine once it becomes more widely available. So far, nearly 300,000 people have signed up. The state has reserved the initial vaccine batches for health care workers, staff and residents at long-term care facilities and some other at-risk people.
- DRY NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Forecasters with the National Weather Service say a potent storm headed toward New Mexico could bring some much needed moisture to the drought-stricken state. They issued an advisory Thursday, saying the storm is expected to move across the state beginning Saturday and will reach the eastern plains Sunday. Significant snow accumulations are expected to effect travel and could cause delays through the northern mountains late Saturday. That region could see a few inches to a foot of snow. The plains could see several inches of snow. More than 80% of the state is dealing with the two worst categories of drought.
- LEGISLATURE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's upcoming legislative session will feature many virtual committee hearings and floor debates due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Leading state lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss safety precautions as the Legislature prepares to convene for its first lengthy session since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Roundhouse will be off limits to the public and lobbyists for the entirety of the 60-day session. The House and Senate will have to adopt specific rules once the session gets underway. Top-ranking Democrats say face masks will be required for those present in the state Capitol.
- RURAL FIBER LINE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Rural telecommunications company Sacred Wind Communications has announced it has completed the first-ever redundant fiber line connecting Albuquerque and Gallup in New Mexico. Sacred Wind CEO John Badal said in the announcement Wednesday that the new line will connect hospitals, point of sale devices and emergency services. Badal added that the project will allow rural and tribal communities between the two cities to have faster and more reliable internet access. The Albuquerque Journal reports that funding for the fiber line came from a nearly $14 million low-interest loan from the federal Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service.
- VIRGIN GALACTIC
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virgin Galactic says it has completed analysis of why its spacecraft's rocket did not ignite during a test flight over New Mexico and work to fix the problem has begun. The company says in a statement Thursday that once the work is verified a timeline for the next test flight will be announced. The spacecraft had two pilots aboard when it was released from its mothership on Dec. 12 on what was supposed to be its first flight into space from Spaceport America. The spacecraft instead glided to a landing. At the time, Virgin Galactic said the onboard computer monitoring the rocket lost connection.