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New Mexico officer dies in chase of suspected kidnapper

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Police in Santa Fe have released the name of the officer who was killed in a car chase Wednesday. They say Officer Robert Duran had been with the Santa Fe Police Department since 2015. Police say the 43-year-old Duran leaves behind a wife and two teenage sons. Authorities still are looking for a suspected kidnapper they say led their officers on a chase ending in a fatal car crash on a major highway. Duran and an uninvolved motorist were killed when the kidnapping suspect drove into oncoming traffic. A woman allegedly kidnapped is now in the hospital, while the man police say was armed with a knife escaped from the carnage on the road.

Election official warns residents about door-to-door canvas

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top election regulator and prosecutor are warning residents of Otero County in southern New Mexico to be wary of intrusive questions and potential intimidation by door-to-door canvassers linked to a review of the 2020 election that was authorized by the Republican-led county commission through a private company. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Wednesday that many Otero County residents have been caught off guard as they are approached by canvassers. She and Attorney General Hector Balderas encouraged voters to report any possible harassment. The U.S. continues to grapple with false claims surrounding President Joe Biden's win.

Official: New Mexico to remain vigilant amid virus respite

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top health official says the state is transitioning into a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, but that it will remain vigilant in case of another surge. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase told reporters Wednesday that there has been a precipitous drop in cases and hospitalizations over recent weeks and that hospitals are seeing relief. He says part of the state's planning includes ensuring that residents have all the tools they need — from treatments to testing options — to weather future outbreaks. He says the idea is to empower people so mandates won't be necessary.

New Mexico increases focus on race in K-12 despite backlash

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — As conservative-run states across the U.S. move to restrict discussion of race, gender, and identity in the classroom, progressive-run states are trying to prioritize those discussions. In New Mexico, education officials are moving forward with a social studies curriculum that increases focus on identity, race and "privilege or systemic inequity." That's despite pushback from conservative groups and many white and Hispanic parents who find the new focus divisive. Authors of the new standards, mostly social studies teachers themselves, say students need to explore the roles of different cultures to see themselves in the classroom and to thrive in a multicultural society.

Bill would prohibit US funds for spent nuclear fuel storage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. senators from New Mexico and Texas are making a legislative push to hobble efforts by private companies that plan to build temporary storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants. Democrat Martin Heinrich and Republican Ted Cruz are proposing legislation that would prohibit federal funds from being used to carry out any activities at private interim storage sites. Federal regulators already granted a license for one facility in West Texas, and developers are seeking approval for a separate operation in New Mexico. Billions of dollars are at stake as the federal government's liability for spent fuel storage at reactor sites has been estimated at more than $30 billion.

New Mexico lowers cap in interest rates for storefront loans

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation aimed at underwriting loans to local start-up companies with taxpayer dollars and lowering the maximum interest rate on private-sector installment loans of $10,000 or less. The governor on Tuesday signed legislation that allows the state to dedicate $50 million to future investments in New Mexico-based venture capital projects that can be risky for investors but have the potential for above-average returns. The bill responds to concerns about the New Mexico's ability to retain and attract businesses in the early stages of development. The governor also signed consumer protection legislation that lowers the maximum interest rate on storefront loans to 36%, down from 175%.

DA warns Dona Ana sheriff on compliance with camera mandate

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A Dona Ana County sheriff's deputy didn't wear a required body camera during a shooting incident, prompting District Attorney Gerald Byers to warn Sheriff Kim Stewart that deputies must comply with the requirement set by state law. Byers included the warning in a letter telling Stewart that a September non-fatal shooting of a suspect was justified. However, Byers noted that the deputy removed his body camera ahead of the encounter in order to put on body armor and left it behind. Byers also said that lack of video could jeopardize prosecutions. Stewart said it was an oversight by the deputy.

GOP wants to end Russian oil imports to US, boost production

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican elected officials across the U.S. are criticizing President Joe Biden over his energy policies and want to ramp up domestic production as a way to help wean the nation and its allies off oil from Russia. Governors, senators and state attorneys general from oil- and gas-producing states such as Oklahoma and Louisiana urged his administration to do more to boost production, which actually increased during Biden's first year in office. The sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies on Russia for its war with Ukraine so far do not include oil and gas exports from the country.