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Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Several storm systems are expected to blow across New Mexico starting Thursday and continuing into the weekend, producing strong winds, colder temperatures, rain in lower elevations and significant snowfall in high country. The National Weather Service says the state will be under an unsettled weather pattern into at least early next week. Forecasters say high temperatures will fall Friday and Saturday, starting the weekend with temperatures 5 to 15 degrees below average.

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — A southeastern New Mexico sheriff has died in an apparent car crash. The Lea Country Sheriff's Office said Sheriff Steve Ackerman was killed Tuesday in a crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported. The office says New Mexico State Police is handling the investigation. It is believed that Ackerman may have been heading to Santa Fe for the start of the New Mexico Legislative session. Ackerman was elected in 2014. No other details were available.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The trial of a 22-year-old man accused of killing two teens over a drug debt is underway. Attorneys made opening statements Tuesday in the trial of Ricardo Martinez, who is accused of killing 18-year-old Venancio Cisneros and Cisneros' 13-year-old girlfriend Anamarie Ojeda in 2014. The victims' bodies were found Oct. 25, 2014 in a car parking on a residential road off State Route 14, south of Santa Fe. The girl had been shot once and Cisneros had been shot three times in the head.

PHOENIX (AP) — The federal government has reached another settlement for cleanup work at abandoned uranium mines across the Navajo Nation. The U.S. Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency and tribe announced a settlement agreement Tuesday with two affiliated subsidiaries of Freeport-McMoRan for the cleanup of 94 abandoned uranium mines on the vast reservation. The mining operations stretched from western New Mexico into Arizona and southern Utah. The last uranium mine shut down in 1986. Under a proposed consent decree filed in U.S.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — ExxonMobil could become one of southeast New Mexico's top oil producers after announcing plans to acquire 275,000 acres of oil leases in the Permian Basin, which also covers parts of western Texas. The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2jWWYuW ) Tuesday that ExxonMobil is paying $5.6 billion to the Bass family of Fort Worth, Texas, to acquire the family's lease acreage and operating entities. Daniel Fine with the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy at New Mexico Tech says ExxonMobil is likely to begin drilling in the area by the end of the year.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are diving into efforts to close a lingering budget gap for the current budget year on the second day of their legislative session. Lawmakers begin deliberations Wednesday on a package of solvency bills designed to close a $69 million budget deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30. The plan would replenish state operating reserves to more than 2 percent of annual general fund spending. That would mark a significant step toward safeguarding the state's credit rating and low borrowing costs.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Senate will webcast all of its committee meetings and will archive the proceedings. Democratic Senator Majority Leader Peter Wirth announced Tuesday that the legislative body will store recordings of the committee meetings online so citizens can watch them later. The New Mexico Legislature has streamed committee meetings online but did not archive them. State lawmakers are expected to hold a number of committee meetings on the state's budget amid possible cuts.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police have released the identities of the officers who fatally shot a man suspected of armed robbery in Albuquerque. Albuquerque police released a statement Tuesday saying the three officers fired on 38-year-old Gilbert Zambronio Lovato after he pointed a BB gun at them earlier this month. Lovato was taken to a hospital, where he later died. Police say the officers involved in the Jan. 7 shooting have been identified as Sgt. Eric Brown, a 17-year police veteran; Detective Russ Carter, a 19-year veteran; and Detective Nava Marquez, a seven-year veteran.

3:45 p.m. New Mexico Democrats say they will resist efforts by Gov. Susana Martinez to balance the state's budget by cutting teachers' salaries. Sen. Joseph Cervantes said Tuesday the Republican governor's proposal to force teachers to pay more into the pension system was "against New Mexican" values and vowed Democrats would fight it. The Las Cruces Democrat also faulted Martinez for failing to mention child and rural poverty in her State of the State speech. New Mexico ranks at the bottom nationally on both.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The leaders of several Navajo communities are asking federal officials to cancel an upcoming oil and natural gas lease sale over concerns about the protection of cultural resources in northwestern New Mexico. Nine Navajo chapter presidents met with the Bureau of Land Management in Santa Fe on Tuesday as dozens of supporters turned in petitions and letters in opposition to the Jan. 25 lease sale. The four parcels up for bid include more than 842 acres that opponents say are part of the "greater Chaco area" that surrounds Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two former U.S. Postal Service employees in New Mexico have been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to destruction of mail. Prosecutors say 30-year-old Christopher Vigil, of Albuquerque, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $200 fine. They say 33-year-old Alonzo Gallegos, of Pena Blanca, was sentenced to six months' probation and ordered to pay a $250 fine. Prosecutors say Vigil admitted to intentionally opening mail not directed to him last Aug.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on Gov. Susana Martinez's State of the State address (all times local): 2:10 p.m. Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico is weathering declines in the oil and natural gas sector much better than other states but she acknowledges there are major challenges that lawmakers face during the 60-day session. In her State of the State address Tuesday, she called for a bipartisan approach to fill a budget gap and asked the Legislature not to take the easy way out.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are unable to identify a driver who died after crashing a stolen sports utility vehicle into a pecan tree outside of Las Cruces. The Las Cruces Police Department says the man in his late teens or early 20s died at a hospital from injuries suffered in Sunday's crash. The SUV was stolen after its owner momentarily left it unattended while its engine was warming up. The crash occurred when the driver was speeding, left the roadway and crashed into the tree. The driver was the only person in the vehicle. No driver's license was found for the driver.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the start of the New Mexico legislative session (all times local): 12:50 p.m. New Mexico's incoming speaker of the House of Representatives is urging his Democratic allies and Republicans to work in cooperation to help provide greater economic security for local families and businesses. House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe told lawmakers Tuesday that businesses are struggling to find qualified employees even as people leave the state in search of jobs. He says schools must be fixed to resolve that equation.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The weekend storm delivered healthy rainfall totals across much of New Mexico and dumped snow on high-altitude areas. The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2k0Kuqg) that Albuquerque International Sunport received 0.66 inch of rain Sunday, while Roswell recorded 0.33 inch of rain. The heaviest snowfall was recorded at the 10,000-foot Magdalena Ridge Observatory west of Socorro, which racked up at least 18 inches. Several ski areas picked up a foot or more of snow.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole that lets members of the New Mexico Legislature accept campaign money while they're in session. Current law prohibits members and candidates for the Legislature from soliciting contributions from Jan. 1 until they adjourn, but still lets them accept donations. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/2iJjauA) that Democratic Rep. Matthew McQueen of Galisteo filed a bill to close the loophole.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Filling a budget hole and finding enough money to maintain state government services next year are top priorities as New Mexico lawmakers convene for a 60-day legislative session. Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is scheduled to outline budget and policy priorities in a State of the State address on Tuesday. She says state government should be able to resolve a budget deficit and restore depleted reserves without raising taxes. Plunging state revenues and economic difficulties are linked to a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials say its high school graduation rate climbed to an all-time high of 71 percent last year. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced the increase in the graduation rate Monday as she pushes for legislative reforms to crack down on truancy and retain more students in third grade if they can't meet literacy requirements. The rate is up from 68.6 percent in 2015, and about 63 percent in 2011 just after Martinez took office.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University has eliminated 727 faculty and staff positions at its Las Cruces campus since 2011 due in part to a steady decline in enrollment and state appropriations. Chancellor Garrey Carruthers told the Las Cruces Sun-News (http://bit.ly/2jBZszt) that the need to examine the staffing levels and "right-size" the university was apparent before enrollment and appropriations became an issue. The university in 2015 contracted with a consulting firm to examine staffing levels and organization structures on the campus.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers may scrap and rewrite regulations that currently mandate the euthanizing of bears and other wild animals that attack a human so that animals can be tested for rabies. A bill has been pre-filed as the Legislature convenes Tuesday that would give health and wildlife officials the ability to consider the current risk of rabies and also whether the animal acted in self-defense.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are confronting budget shortfalls, frustration over a weak economy, and concerns about violent crime and school performance as they convene for a 60-day session. The session begins Tuesday with a fresh slate of Democratic majority leaders in the House of Representatives, where Republicans lost majority control in November elections, and the Senate. Policymakers are preparing to extend recent agency budget cuts into the coming year to address a deficit and plunging tax revenues linked to a downturn in the oil and natural gas industry. GOP Gov.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say an 18-year-old man has been charged with setting his girlfriend's Albuquerque home ablaze. KOB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2jn4HG5 ) that Miko Romero was charged with arson in connection with the Jan. 9 fire. No injuries were reported in the blaze. According to a criminal complaint, investigators determined the fire was intentionally set after finding a melted gas can. Romero was interviewed by authorities Friday and has since been released on bond. The complaint says Romero admitted to starting the house fire.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Police have released the name of a pedestrian who was killed north of Santa Fe. They say officers were called to the scene around 3 a.m. Saturday to the area of U.S. 84/285. Police say their initial investigation indicates a vehicle struck a pedestrian walking in the middle of the roadway. They say 29-year-old Eldon Enjady, of Mescalero, sustained fatal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken for treatment to a hospital.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police are conducting a homicide investigation after a body was found at a northeast Albuquerque motel after a reported shooting. Albuquerque police say officers discovered the body when they arrived at the Motel 6 around 8 a.m. Sunday. The name and age of the victim weren't immediately released and police won't say yet if the person died of a gunshot wound. Police say homicide officers are canvassing the area for more information and no one is in custody at this time.

RATON, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say an Oklahoma man is dead after a crash involving a commercial vehicle in northeastern New Mexico. New Mexico State Police say the accident occurred around 3:00 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 25 near Raton. They say the vehicle exited the roadway and hit a guard rail on the right shoulder of the roadway, causing the vehicle to roll into its side. Police say 38-year-old Michael Brad Arrington of Duncan, Oklahoma was driving the commercial vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. They say the crash remains under investigation.

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