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

  • FARM LABOR SHORTAGE-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales says the state is stepping in to ensure a timely chile harvest after growers and producers raised concerns about an inadequate supply of labor. Morales said Wednesday that the state will funnel up to $5 million in federal pandemic relief toward enhanced wages for farmers who harvest New Mexico's renowned green and red chile crop in the late summer and early fall. Some Republican state legislators this week urged Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to cut off a $300 weekly federal supplement to unemployment benefits that they say is keeping workers at home. Morales says the farm-labor shortage predates the pandemic.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 34 new COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fourth consecutive day. The latest numbers released by tribal health officials pushed the total number of coronavirus cases to 31,486 since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,377. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. 

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A rural New Mexico school board has been suspended by the state Public Education Department for not going along with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's mask mandate for children when classes resume for the fall semester. The department announced the suspension of the five-member Floyd school board Wednesday. The district's superintendent has been ordered to report directly to the state education secretary. The board voted last week to make masks and social distancing optional and reaffirmed the decision in another vote Monday. The district serves about 225 students. The dispute comes as New Mexico marks its highest daily COVID-19 case total since March.

  • OBIT-ED MORENO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Known as a journalist who asked tough questions, former Associated Press correspondent Ed Moreno has died. He was 67. His family said he had a brain tumor and died July 27 at his home in Santa Fe. Moreno began his journalism career in the 1970s. He worked for the Santa Fe New Mexican before being hired by the AP to cover New Mexico state government. He was then recruited to work in the State Land Office as an assistant commissioner. He also was a legislative analyst, a mediator with a national science and public policy company and a Santa Fe County commissioner.

  • DARK MONEY-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected efforts by a libertarian-leaning group in New Mexico to shield future financial contributions from public disclosure in defiance of a requirement enacted by the city of Santa Fe. The 10th District Court of Appeals in Denver on Tuesday dismissed a request by the Albuquerque-based Rio Grande Foundation to invalidate Santa Fe's campaign finance provisions as unconstitutional. The dispute stems from a failed city ballot initiative in 2017 to tax sugary beverages to shore up spending on early childhood education.

  • ALBUQUERQUE MAYOR-ETHICS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Critics of Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller have filed a new ethics complaint alleging that the Democrat violated the city's election laws by using a city employee for campaign purposes. The complaint filed by supporters of Sheriff Manuel Gonzales' bid for mayor also alleges Keller's reelection campaign illegally accepted seed money from six non-residents in violation of Albuquerque's Open and Ethical Elections Code. Much of the complaint centers on the actions of the president of the city firefighters' union. He's accused of visiting city-owned properties and asking firefighters to sign $5 donation cards on Keller's behalf. Keller's campaign denied responsibility for the actions.

  • FIRE-FILM SET-ALBUQUERQUE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque authorities say a fire Wednesday destroyed a small set at the Netflix film studios. Chief Tom Ruiz of Albuquerque Fire Rescue said crews responding to the pre-dawn blaze found the set "fully involved"  in flames and smoke. He said the fire was extinguished quickly but that the set was a "total loss." No injuries were reported and no information was immediately available on a possible cause.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 28 new COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the third consecutive day. The latest numbers released by tribal health officials pushed the total number of coronavirus cases to 31,449 since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,377. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.