THURS: Governor Calls For Special Session As Daily Virus Cases Top 3,600, + More

Nov 19, 2020

Governor Calls On Legislature To Approve Pandemic Relief - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press/Report For America

The governor is calling a special legislative session next week in the hope of providing new economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic and aggressive emergency restrictions.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made the announcement Thursday as daily coronavirus infections statewide surged to new highs.

Health officials reported a daily record of 3,675 new COVID-19 infections, and 12 related deaths. The number of hospitalizations also increased to 774 people, with 125 on ventilators.

With the coronavirus surging, more retail stores are shutting down in-person sales ahead of the critical holiday shopping season. Lujan Grisham offered few details on her relief package, noting that she has been in discussions with legislative leaders.

New Mexico this week implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the country, attempting a "reset" on the outbreak, with closures extending to all restaurants and many other businesses. The vast majority of schools also are closed.

Other stores have shut down for at least two weeks after staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

State Police: Suspect Injured In Shooting Involving OfficerAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Police says one of its officers was involved in a shooting Thursday that left a suspect injured.

The officer wasn't injured in the shooting that occurred in Los Lunas on the southern outskirts of metro Albuquerque, the State Police said in a brief statement.

The statement provided no details on the circumstances of the shooting, the identities of those involved or the condition of the injured suspect.

New Mexico Increases Enforcement Of Clean-Up At Oil SitesAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Land Office that oversees thousands of oil and natural gas development leases in a major U.S. petroleum-production basin is expanding environmental enforcement efforts to ensure that oilfield sites get cleaned up and restored as leases expire.

At an online news conference Thursday, the agency announced enhanced reviews at oil-lease sites that pose immediate environmental concerns.

Officials say the initiative already has resulted in completed environmental reclamation efforts at sites spanning roughly 11 square miles and the plugging of nine oil wells within the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico.

At the same time, the land office indicated it has filed nine lawsuits aimed at clean-up compliance against leaseholders for oil and gas development, a salt-water disposal well operator and others.

The efforts are aimed at holding oilfield businesses accountable for ground spills of oil, natural gas, polluted or brackish water used in the drilling process as well as abandoned well pads, tanks for liquids, pipelines and roads.

The State Land Office collects as much as $1 billion annually in revenue from a variety of business activities on state trust land to benefit public schools, hospitals and other institutions.

Oil and gas development accounts for the agency's largest revenue source. Wind energy project and livestock grazing also are part of the mix.

State Seeks Funding For 28 More Electric Vehicles Associated Press

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.

In New Mexico the oil and natural gas sector generates the most greenhouse gases, while at the national level transportation is the largest emitter.

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.

Ortiz described progress on an energy-efficiency project at 30 buildings in Santa Fe. Solar electricity generating equipment has been added at 16 buildings so far, with work soon to begin on three large solar carports.

The completed project is expected to reap savings of $1.1 million on electricity costs, the General Services Department said in a statement.

Convictions In 2 Killings Upheld; New Testimony Standard SetAssociated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a man's first-degree murder convictions in the 2014 killings of two Santa Fe teens as the justices set a new standard for courts to consider eyewitness testimony identifying a criminal suspect.

The justices upheld Ricardo Martinez's convictions in the 2014 shooting deaths of 18-year-old Venancio Cisneros and Cisneros' 13-year-old girlfriend, who the ruling identified only by initials.

The new standard precludes admission of eyewitness identifications produced by "unnecessarily suggestive" police procedures. The ruling said the eyewitness testimony was properly admitted at trial both under the newly adopted state standard and a federal rule it replaced.

Navajo Nation Reports 135 New COVID-19 Cases, 8 More Deaths Associated Press

Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 135 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths.

The latest figures bring the total number of known cases to 13,880 with 613 known deaths. Tribal health officials say 141,751 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 8,011 have recovered.

On Monday, the Navajo Nation reinstated a stay-at-home lockdown for the entire reservation. Under the order, tribal offices will be closed and new closures and safety measures will be required for businesses on the vast reservation that spans more than 27,000 square miles in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.