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Associated Press

LBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a helicopter crash in New Mexico that killed five people, including a Zimbabwean opposition leader (all times local): 1:30 p.m. Authorities in the U.S. state of New Mexico say a victim injured in a helicopter crash that killed five others, including a Zimbabwe opposition leader, called for help. State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo confirmed opposition leader Roy Bennett's death Thursday, a day after a helicopter carrying him and five others went down in a remote area.

RATON, N.M. (AP) — A helicopter crashed in a mountainous rural area of northern New Mexico, killing five people and seriously injuring the sixth person aboard, a New Mexico State Police spokeswoman said Thursday. Lt. Elizabeth Armijo confirmed the five deaths and one injury about 14 hours after the helicopter went down about 6 p.m. Wednesday about 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of the small city of Raton near the Colorado state line. Armijo said no additional information was immediately available about the victims or circumstances of the crash.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An advocacy group for environmental protection in New Mexico is highlighting the need to restore funding for the state's lead environmental agency. The Environmental Defense Fund said in a report released Thursday that state general fund spending was reduced and never restored to the Department of Environment at the outset of the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez.

New Mexico lawmakers are racing to approve a law that allows nurses licensed in New Mexico to work in participating states and vice versa. New Mexico has until the end of Thursday to join a new nurse licensure compact that is shared with at least 25 other states as an older agreement expires. Republican state Sen. Stuart Ingle of Portales is sponsoring the bill and says the compact is crucial for outlying areas that depend on nurses who cross state lines. The bill was scheduled for a House vote Thursday before it can be signed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops is highlighting its legislative priorities at a breakfast with state lawmakers. GOP New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday renewed calls to reinstate the death penalty as the Legislature convened for a 30-day session. The measure has been staunchly opposed by Roman Catholic leaders including Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester. Local Roman Catholic leaders have urged New Mexico lawmakers in recent years to do more to address childhood poverty. A breakfast meeting was scheduled Wednesday at a parish hall in Santa Fe.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller says he plans to issue an order for investigators to clear the backlog of untested rape kits in the city's crime lab. Keller is expected to detail his plans for the order at a press conference Wednesday. Keller took office as mayor of Albuquerque last month. A year earlier, he released a report as state auditor aimed at identifying the root causes of a statewide backlog of 5,000 untested evidence kits from sexual assaults. Based on that figure, New Mexico led the nation in untested kits per capita.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A major credit rating agency has given New Mexico's largest electric utility and its parent company a negative outlook as state regulators look to resolve questions over a proposed rate increase. PNM Resources says the outlook by Standard & Poor's moves the family of companies in the direction of a credit rating downgrade. The agency cited a challenging regulatory environment and pointed to the financial effects of a decision last week by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to order a lower rate increase for utility customers.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops is highlighting its legislative priorities at a breakfast with state lawmakers. GOP New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday renewed calls to reinstate the death penalty as the Legislature convened for a 30-day session. The measure has been staunchly opposed by Roman Catholic leaders including Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester. Local Roman Catholic leaders have urged New Mexico lawmakers in recent years to do more to address childhood poverty. A breakfast meeting was scheduled Wednesday at a parish hall in Santa Fe.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A post-election salary hike of 10 percent is being contemplated for New Mexico's governor, attorney general, secretary of state and several other statewide elected officials. The Legislature's lead budget writing committee this week endorsed the bill proposal to increase pay for seven statewide elected officials and members of the Public Regulation Commission come Jan. 1, 2019. Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming plans to introduce the bill and says compensation increases are overdue for the high-responsibility jobs.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the start of a new legislative session in New Mexico (all times local): 1:20 p.m. The New Mexico Legislature has convened for a 30-day legislative session to craft a new state budget and address concerns about crime and public safety. The Democrat-led Legislature gathered Tuesday in the state Capitol. GOP Gov. Susana Martinez and leading lawmakers are seizing on a recent increase in state tax income to try and boost spending on education, law enforcement, Medicaid and economic development incentives.

The top Democrat in the New Mexico House of Representatives is highlighting commitments to public education funding, health care services and environmental protection. House Speaker Brian Egolf released a video on YouTube on Tuesday that acknowledges recent tough economic times in New Mexico and says Democrats are committed to putting more money toward early childhood education and making sure residents have clean air and clean water. The video segment preceded the governor's midday State of the State address that marks the beginning of the 2018 legislative session.

Gov. Susana Martinez will be giving her last State of the State address as New Mexico lawmakers convene for a 30-day legislative session. The Legislature convenes at noon Tuesday in Santa Fe, and one of the first orders of business will be for lawmakers from both chambers to gather together for the annual address. In what marks the final year of the two-term Republican governor's tenure, she wants to focus on the familiar priorities of schools, job creation and public safety.

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — The nation's only underground nuclear waste repository is undergoing its first maintenance outage since it resumed operations a year ago. Before then, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant had been shut down for three years because radiation contaminated part of the facility. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that maintenance crews will be updating power supplies, relocating fiber-optic cables and replacing other parts in the underground mine. The work is expecting to last until Jan. 26. Waste shipments will be on hold until the following week.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Criminal justice initiatives and state spending increases for public education, law enforcement, Medicaid and economic development are at the top of the agenda as the New Mexico Legislature convenes for a 30-day session. The session begins at noon on Tuesday with the State of the State address by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. State tax income is on the rise as lawmakers begin crafting a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque has been chosen as Democratic Senate majority whip. Stewart was named to the post Monday. Democratic state Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque was ousted last month as majority whip and ended his campaign for lieutenant governor amid allegations that he harassed women at a previous job a decade ago. He has repeatedly denied the allegations. Stewart joined the Senate in 2015 after serving for 20 years in the state House of Representatives.

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Students at Navajo Preparatory School researching the lasting impacts of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill have won $10,000 for their work. The Farmington Daily Times reports seven sophomores and juniors in a gifted-and-talented program at the school entered the Lexus Eco Challenge with a project that involved testing green onion roots for iron and zine after they had been submerged into the Animas River. The work won them $8,000 in scholarships, and $2,000 for school equipment. They now are competing in a second phase of the competition.

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — Western New Mexico University has a new athletic director. The school announced Monday that it has hired Scott Noble to run the Mustangs athletic program. His job at the school's Silver City campus begins Feb. 2. For the last several years, Noble has been the athletic director at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he re-introduced the women's basketball program after a 30-year hiatus. He has a master's degree in physical education and sport administration from Eastern Illinois University.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Analysts for the Legislative Finance Committee say they are undertaking a review of the Bernalillo County criminal justice system. The jurisdiction includes Albuquerque, where crime has been on the rise since 2010. Analysts told lawmakers Monday that they expect to complete a report this spring on factors contributing to Albuquerque's rising crime rate. They are reviewing what — if any — affect a lagging economy, drug abuse and gang activity have had, as well as whether reforms in the last several years have played a part in driving up crime rates.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state lawmakers are taking anti-harassment training for the first time since 2004. Human resources consultant and attorney Edward Mitnick of Massachusetts on Monday led lawmakers through lessons about harassment policies and how to create a culture of mutual respect in the statehouse. He says harassment often is about people abusing their power and authority over others. The training is part of an effort to make the Capitol work environment safer amid a nationwide debate over sexual misconduct.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The murder of a Hispanic jailer in New Mexico in 1968 — a year of unrest in the United States — has long divided residents, scholars and civil rights advocates. Assailants abducted Eulogio (ee-loh-HEE-oh) Salazar in front of his home in the rural community of Tierra Amarilla (tee-AYR'-uh ah-mah-REE'-yah), and left his body in a ravine. The murder came as Salazar was preparing to testify against Hispanic-rights activist Reies Lopez Tijerina and his followers. The group was accused of leading an armed raid of the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse six months earlier.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit over an Albuquerque panhandling ordinance that went into effect last month. The ordinance passed by the Albuquerque City Council prohibits panhandlers from soliciting motorists at medians and sidewalks. It also makes it illegal for motorists to physically interact with them. City Councilor Trudy Jones sponsored the measure. She says the intent of it is to make streets safer.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe district-chartered school has had its state grade for 2016-17 raised from a "B'' to an "A'' after a data error led to a miscalculation. The New Mexico Public Education Department made the change for the Academy for Technology and the Classics. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the college-preparatory school that serves nearly 400 students in grades 7-12 now has logged its fifth straight "A'' since the state implemented the school grading system in 2012-13.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislation has been proposed that would require greater public disclosure about New Mexico state government payouts to settle legal disputes over workplace harassment and personnel issues. Republican Sen. Sander Rue of Albuquerque announced Friday a bill that would require the state to publish a summary of facts leading to settlement agreements, the agency or office involved, and financial terms including damage payments and attorney fees.

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park say the park's secondary elevators will be out of service for required maintenance from Jan. 22-24. The work involves shortening the cables installed on both secondary elevator cars last February. Park officials say stretches in new hoist cables is common, especially in long hoistways like the 750-foot shaft at Carlsbad Caverns. There are two separate elevator systems in two separate elevator shafts at the park.

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico newspaper says former state legislator Sandra Jeff has changed parties, from Democrat to Libertarian. The Gallup Independent reports Jeff changed her voter registration last Thursday at the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office and intends to run for secretary of state. She listed an Albuquerque address on the voter registration card. Jeff was appointed to the Gallup-McKinley County Schools Board of Education last year, but was defeated in her election bid as persistent questions about her residency dogged her campaign.

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