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NM Lawmakers Will Tackle Rebates During Today’s Special Session

Santa Fe had second highest cannabis sales among cities during weekend launch

Lawmakers return to Roundhouse for rebates, spending bill

Legislators plan to swiftly pass a relief bill during the special session starting today geared at providing rebate checks to New Mexicans. According to a news release from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office yesterday, single filers would receive $500 payments, while joint filers would receive $1,000, most likely distributed in two installments in spring and fall. “Every New Mexican is feeling it: at the pump, at the grocery store and paying the power bill,” the governor said in a statement. “Coupled with the relief we provided during the regular session through rebates and tax cuts, these common-sense efforts will make a real difference in the lives of New Mexicans around our state.” After the last session, Lujan Grisham signed off on a tax bill that included rebates of $250 to $500 for individuals making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000, which will be distributed this summer. “Many New Mexicans will already be receiving rebates based on legislation we passed in February,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said in a joint statement, adding that both the governor and Legislature “recognize that we are now in a position do more, and this additional relief will have an immediate and positive impact on households across the state while keeping money moving through our economy.” The special session, which lawmakers anticipate may only last one day, will also take up the so-called junior bill the governor vetoed after the regular session. The bill includes $50 million in projects across the state. The governor’s office says the bill will now include “new requirements that ensure transparency for each project,” thus addressing her concerns about the last bill. The session begins at 9 am, with committee hearings and floor sessions livestreamed on the Legislature’s website.

Housing sales stall amid low inventory, high prices

Due to what the Santa Fe Association of Realtors describes as “record-breaking low inventory,” Santa Fe County home sales dropped by 23% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time period in 2021: from 186 units to 143 units. According to data SAR released yesterday, the median house price in the county rose by the same percentage during the same time period: by 23% from $650,000 in 2021 to $796,580 this quarter. As for the city, median home prices rose by nearly 13% from $425,000 in the first quarter of 2022 to $480,000 this quarter, while sales rose by less than 1% with 215 units sold this quarter compared to 217 in the first quarter of 2021. “The housing marking sits squarely in the hands of sellers as we enter the normally busiest home buying and selling season,” Andrea Dobyns, 2022 President of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “With record-breaking low inventory and few, if any, housing units coming online, the market is extremely competitive with sellers getting multiple offers, many over the asking price of the listing.” The first quarter results weren’t surprising, Dobyns tells SFR. I think we all saw this coming,” she said. “And it’s not just Santa Fe. Nationally, this is the trend where things are going.” Days on market until sale also dipped to 30 days for single family homes and 28 days for condos/townhomes this quarter. You can drill down to look at other quarterly indicators here. As for which area of Santa Fe had the largest increase in cost, the median sales price for single family homes rose by about 78%—from $800,000 to approximately $1.4 million comparing last year’s first quarter and this year’s, in what’s described as the northern portion of the city’s southeastern section: north of St. Michael’s Drive and East Zia Road, South of East Alameda and Upper Canyon Road, east of St. Francis, West of Atalaya Mountain, including Wilderness Gate (basically, the east side). The least expensive sector of town, the Southside, has a median house price of $400,000, a 13.5% increase from last year.

NM beats Colorado for first cannabis sales

The opening weekend sales figures are in for New Mexico’s first days of recreational cannabis sales, with more than $5.2 million in sales, 66% for adult recreational users. A news release from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office yesterday notes the figures make New Mexico’s launch one of the most successful—possibly the most successful—launch of any state. Moreover, Lujan Grisham says in a statement, “We beat Colorado’s numbers for first-day sales” (we sense a reprise of the New Mexico/Colorado chile fight in the offing). “New Mexicans demonstrated the strength of the demand for this exciting new industry,” the governor said, “and it is clear that adult-use cannabis is going to be a contributor to our diverse state economy.” Not only did New Mexico possibly sell more cannabis on its opening weekend than any other state and definitely more cannabis than Colorado when it launched, no one ran out, according to Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson. “In every state that launched adult-use sales before New Mexico, some retailers sold out on opening day,” she claimed. “In New Mexico, that was simply not the case. Customers and patients across the state were all able to get the products or medicine they wanted and needed.” Specifically, the state recorded 87,773 transactions, 57,890 from adult recreational sales and 29,883 from medical cannabis sales. The city of Santa Fe saw approximately $476,000 in total sales—about 66% from adult recreational sales—the second highest haul amongst New Mexico cities, slightly more than Las Cruces’ approximate $452,000 in sales and trailing Albuquerque, which had $2 million in sales.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported April 4:

New cases: 535 (includes the weekend); 518,470 total cases

Deaths: 14; Santa Fe County has had 264 deaths thus far; there have been 7,293 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 77; Patients on ventilators: eight

Breakthrough cases: According to the weekly vaccination report released, over the four week period of Feb. 28-March 28, 40.1% of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico were among people who had not completed a primary vaccination series; 24.8% were among those who had completed the series but had not received a booster; and 35.1% were among those who were fully vaccinated and boosted. For hospitalizations, those figures change to 65.1%, 16.7% and 18.2%. The percentages shift to 57.7%, 21.1% and 21.1% for fatalities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—31 of New Mexico’s counties—including Santa Fe County currently have “green”—aka low—levels, whereas McKinley and Harding counties have yellow, or medium, levels. The CDC updates its map every Thursday.

Vaccinations: The state’s vaccination dashboard is not currently loading correctly. A DOH spokeswoman tells SFR via email “they were experiencing some technical difficulties last week...maybe there are remaining glitches,” and said she would check on the status of the situation.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

An international team of scientists, including ones from Los Alamos National Laboratory, recently published a study on the sounds on Mars in the journal Nature, using audio recorded on a microphone on the Perseverance rover’s SuperCam. In a nutshell, scientists have found “the speed of sound is slower on the Red Planet than on Earth and that, mostly, a deep silence prevails.” However, you can also listen to how Earth noises would sound on Mars through this Sounds of Mars site.

Perseverance in the north

The Washington Post heads to Tierra Amarilla to spotlight the Mesa Vista High school girls basketball team, the Lady Trojans, as they navigate a season just two months after losing both of their coaches to COVID-19. Father and son Leonard Torrez Sr., 58 and Leonard Torrez Jr., 37 died within hours of one another in January, “an unimaginable double tragedy for the community,” as the Rio Grande Sun wrote at the time. The Post checks in on the Lady Trojans in early February as they face their rivals, the Escalante Lobos, and lose by 40 points. Their new coach Jesse Boies, had been best friends with Torrez Jr., had stepped in when the Torrezes became ill and now has the job permanently, along with their goal of taking the underdog team to the state championship. “In Texas, they have football and Friday night lights,” Boies tells the Post. “Here in northern New Mexico, people live for high school basketball, especially in the smaller communities. From October till March, it’s nothing but basketball every night, every weekend.” We won’t ruin the outcome of the Lady Trojans’ season for those who don’t follow high school sports, but the story goes well beyond athletics to pay tribute to a tight-knit community and the losses they’ve weathered with strength and dignity.

SF Farmers Market wins national props

The Santa Fe Farmers Market is a regular winner in SFR’s annual Best of Santa Fe (as, for example, its first place win last year for best business in the Railyard/Guadalupe district). The market also received national props recently when it placed sixth in USA Today’s 2022 Best Farmers Market readers’ choice awards. According to USA Today, “a panel of experts” partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. As the short write-up notes, the market began in the 1960s (the market celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018), with a handful of vendors, and today hosts more than 150 offering both fresh produce and an array of locally made products. “If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when they’re roasting fresh chiles, filling the market with an intoxicating aroma,” 10Best contributor Eric Grossman writes. West Palm Beach GreenMarket in West Palm Beach, Florida came in first, btw.

The answer, my friends...

Today looks like the kind of day that gives spring a bad name, although if the answers to a bunch of existential questions are actually blowing in the wind, today should be enlightening. According to the National Weather Service, Santa Fe will have “areas of blowing dust” after noon, with a west wind 15 to 25 mph increasing to 25 to 35 mph and possibly gusting as high as 45 mph. It will also be sunny with a high temperature near 70 degrees.

Thanks for reading! The Word is digging this rare footage of Prince, age 11, at a teachers strike in Minneapolis (here’s the back story).

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