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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are reassuring teachers that they can't be sued by students who get the coronavirus as some of them head back to the classroom. Like most public servants, teachers are protected by insurance that covers court costs. Officials with the state's school insurance authority say it's too soon to say how great the risk of lawsuits against schools will be. Many large districts have opted to stay online for now. But Tuesday marked the first day of in-person learning for some younger students in 20 districts and charter schools around the state. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Six-term U.S. Congressman and Senate candidate Ben Ray Luján is endorsing a fellow Democrat to fill his northern New Mexico House district in the November election. Luján endorsed Santa Fe-based attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez in her campaign for the 3rd Congressional District seat against Republican Alexis Johnson. In a statement Tuesday, Luján praised Leger Fernandez for her work in developing rural health centers, protecting rural irrigation systems and promoting other critical infrastructure. Leger Fernandez has run as an supporter of "Medicare for all" that signifies the creation of a government-run, single-payer system for health insurance.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Republicans have released another attack ad on Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico's southern district even as she earns support from a traditionally conservative-leaning group. The National Republican Congressional Committee this week unveiled a new commercial blasting the Las Cruces Democrat's pledge to "work with anyone" while taking campaign contributions from environmental organizations. The GOP group says those environmentalists support the New Green Deal _ something Torres Small says she opposes. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week endorsed Torres Small over Republican challenger Yvette Herrell in the closely watched race. The chamber gave Torres Small high ratings for bipartisanship.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An antiquities dealer and author who gained fame after hiding a a treasure chest that drove hundreds of thousands of people to search the American West has died at age 90. Police confirmed Forrest Fenn died Monday of natural causes at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Only recently, Fenn announced the bronze chest filled with gold, jewels and other valuables had been found in Wyoming by someone he didn't name. He hid it a decade ago and dropped clues in a poem published in his 2010 autobiography. The treasure spurred an almost a cult-like following, and some people died searching for it. 


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Republicans say they have unveiled a "moderate agenda" around economic development in a bid to capture the state House and Senate. GOP House Minority Leader James Townsend and Republican Senate Minority Whip Craig Brandt on Tuesday released a plan they say will bring moderate Democrats and Republicans together following one of the nation's worst recessions amid the pandemic. Townsend says Republicans are running one of its most diverse set of candidates for legislative races. Brandt says the "Fair Deal" comes after several liberal Democrats defeated moderate Democrats in the state Senate. The blueprint calls for improving the state's bond rating and for criminal justice reforms.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in Albuquerque are investigating after two people were found dead in a burning car. Albuquerque police said Monday that they have linked the two deaths to a home invasion. Officers were investigating a home invasion and another case of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon at two different locations Sunday. According to investigators, a car was reported stolen from the scene of the home invasion. Other officers assisting with a nearby car fire say the two victims were found dead inside after the fire was put out. Detectives have since found evidence linking the car fire to the other two incidents. 


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A major oil and gas producer in the Permian Basin has withdrawn its application for a permit to construct and operate a natural gas facility in southeastern New Mexico. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. announced last week it is withdrawing its permit application in Eddy County, citing future infrastructure plans in the area. The application was for two facilities known as the Husky Gas Plant and Central Delivery Point planned to operate in Eddy County about 14 miles northeast of Loving. The facilities would have had the capacity to process about 200,000 barrels per day of oil stabilization.


LODGE GRASS, Mont. (AP) — Millions of federal dollars for impoverished Native American communities are on the line in the U.S. census, and tribes are racing to avoid being undercounted again. Almost all of the nation's more than 300 reservations trail significantly behind the rest of the country in the count. There have long been challenges counting people on far-flung Native lands amid language barriers and distrust of the federal government. But the pandemic has dealt a devastating new setback, with lockdowns keeping census takers away as Indian Country has struggled with disproportionate numbers of infections. Reaching a full count on most reservations now looks nearly impossible.