New Mexico Legislature

KRWG Public Media coverage of the New Mexico legislature.  Major partners include the Associated Press and the Southern New Mexico Journalism Collaborative.

New Senate Democrats claim mandate for change

Dec 4, 2020
Carrie Hamblen

LAS CRUCES - The freshman Democrats elected to the Senate this year have been given a mandate by the voters, said Sen. Elect Carrie Hamblen of Las Cruces, and they have already started coordinating their efforts. Hamblen defeated Senate president pro-tem Mary Kay Papen in the Democratic primary for District 38.

“Within a week after the election we got together,” she said.

Southern New Mexico loses power in NM Legislature

Dec 4, 2020

LAS CRUCES - When the New Mexico Senate convenes for a 60-day session next month, none of its majority leaders will be from southern New Mexico.

Mimi Stewart, a veteran legislator from Albuquerque, was nominated to be Senate president pro-tem. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe will return as majority leader. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque will be the new majority whip, and Brenda Grace McKenna of Corrales will be caucus chairwoman.

Legislative civil rights commission dissents on draft bill

Dec 4, 2020
Gerald Byers

LAS CRUCES - Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart and District Attorney-elect Gerald Byers both argue the state should look to the Law Enforcement Academy for police reform, not the courts.

“If lawsuits worked to mend bad behavior, we wouldn’t have any bad behavior, because we’ve seen significant lawsuits for hundreds of years,” Stewart said.

Stewart and Byers were among the nine members selected for a temporary civil rights commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Richard Bosson and charged with proposing legislation for the upcoming session.

Las Cruces Legislator Proposes Paid Sick Leave Bill

Dec 3, 2020


Las Cruces, NM – On this edition of PUENTES a la comunidad, bridges to the community, host Emily Guerra spoke with New Mexico State Representative for District 35, Angelica Rubio, about the proposed paid sick leave bill which will be decided upon at the next legislative session in 2021.

Tuesday, 11/24, 8a: The push for the legalization of recreational cannabis has really picked up in recent years in the New Mexico legislature. In this week's episode, we look back at those efforts to date, and the strategy behind the legislation proposed in past sessions.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's child welfare agencies are presenting their budget requests to state lawmakers.

From emergency internet access and welfare checks to a strained child care system, the needs of children and parents have increased due to the pandemic. But state revenues are down and agencies are being asked to trim their spending requests for the next fiscal year that starts in July 2021.

Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Sierra-35), Chair, Legislative Finance Committee

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A longtime New Mexico state senator has announced he is retiring from his position a month before his four-year term was scheduled to expire. He lost his bid for reelection this year. Democratic state Sen. John Arthur Smith, who had served eight terms and was chairman of the influential Senate Finance Committee, announced Tuesday he wanted to spend more time with his family. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said Smith’s colleague Democratic state Sen. Richard Martinez also submitted his resignation early this week. It’s unclear whether anyone will step into the two positions before the start of the next legislative session, scheduled to begin in mid-January.

Tuesday, 12/01, 8a: New Mexico's medical cannabis industry has already produced a number of successful entrepreneurs and companies who could see even more benefits from legal recreational cannabis in New Mexico. On this episode we look at some of the major players in the state. We also explore the barriers to entry to the cannabis industry, a point of contention for those who want legalization to also include mechanisms that help communities most damaged by the war on drugs to share in the largesse of a legal, and lucrative, cannabis industry.

New Mexico Legislature Provides COVID Relief, Mostly From Federal Funds

Nov 30, 2020

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico Legislature provided an additional $330 million in assistance for state business and unemployed workers during a one-day special session Tuesday, Nov. 24, but the debate was about the people not being helped: essential workers.
More than half the money appropriated will go to jobless New Mexicans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said those people have already been identified, and his department will be able to get checks to them immediately.

Sen. Gabriel Ramos, D-Silver City, joined with Sen. Candace Gould, R-Albuquerque, on an amendment that would have taken half the money and used it to benefit essential workers making $15 an hour or less. Both senators lost their elections and were taking part in their final session. But the idea had strong support.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M> (AP) — The flurry to pass a $330 million relief package aimed at helping out-of-work New Mexicans and certain businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is done. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the measure Wednesday. But she and Republican lawmakers say the hardest work is yet to come as they look for more permanent ways to rebuild a shattered economy. Republicans had voiced concerns during Tuesday's one-day special session that the relief bill left behind low-income essential workers. Democratic legislative leaders say they plan to consider an immediate relief package when they return in January for a 60-day session.

Gov. Lujan Grisham signs $330 million relief package for New Mexicans

Nov 25, 2020

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday signed into law a significant relief package for New Mexicans that will deliver grants to small New Mexico businesses, supplemental payments to the unemployed and other emergency food and housing relief.

“I know this stimulus will mean so much to so many New Mexicans as we enter the holiday season,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “But our work isn’t done. The pandemic has never been more dangerous in our state, and the economic pain caused by the spread of the virus is felt in every corner of New Mexico. We must remain vigilant in our fight against the virus. We must continue to evaluate how we can get more assistance to more New Mexicans who need it in this time of crisis. I’m grateful to the Legislature, both chambers and both parties, for their work yesterday. New Mexico will always step up, even when the federal government won’t.”

The New Mexico Legislature passed a $330 million COVID-19 relief bill during a special session on Tuesday.

New Mexico’s unemployed workers will receive a one-time $1,200 payment next month, following authorization of the legislature’s COVID-19 relief bill by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Grisham, who called for the special session, spoke about the need to get funds out to New Mexicans as soon as possible. 

“We spent the last several days working with legislators, both chambers, both sides of the aisle, to work on those details,” Grisham said. “And it's a tough time to ask legislators, as they're trying to be, and they are, effective local leaders—getting their counties ready, their cities and communities, families, but we want to get this relief out to New Mexicans. They need unemployment. They need housing assistance and businesses need grants.”

Loan fund for small businesses mostly unused

Nov 20, 2020
Debbi Moore

LAS CRUCES - The Small Business Recovery Act of 2020, passed by the New Mexico Legislature during a special session in June, allocated $400 million to provide low-cost loans for businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Big challenges require big responses. This may be the biggest stimulus New Mexico has ever passed,” Rep. Marian Matthews, D-Albuquerque, a co-sponsor of the bill, said during the signing ceremony in July.
But four months later, only about $20 million of the original $400 million has been tapped into.
“None of us have ever designed a program like this for a pandemic, so it’s been a learning process,” Matthews said this week.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The governor is calling a special legislative session next week in the hope of providing new economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic and aggressive emergency restrictions.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made the announcement Thursday as daily coronavirus infections statewide surged to new highs. Health officials reported a daily record of 3,675 new COVID-19 infections, and 12 related deaths.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators are keeping a wary eye on trends in oil prices and production as the number of active drilling rigs and new wells has plummeted from pre-pandemic levels, threatening a crucial source of state income amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A report from the budget and accountability office of the Legislature found that drilling for new petroleum wells in New Mexico’s share of the Permian Basin declined precipitously. Spending cuts are proposed next year at a variety of state agencies to help conserve financial resources.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Leading Democratic lawmakers are pressing forward with efforts to begin a legislative session in January 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies and members of a legislative committee were warned of possible exposure to COVID-19 from an individual who tested positive after attending a hearing in the Statehouse.

Some Republican lawmakers have suggested the session be postponed until the public can safely attend hearings in-person.

Albuquerque Journal / Pool photo

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Leading legislators are weighing how to safely convene to approve economic aid and post-election initiatives that might boost spending on prekindergarten and regulate recreational cannabis sales. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants the state to forge its own relief package for the unemployed and hard-hit businesses in the midst of a renewed statewide coronavirus lockdown that began Monday and lasts through at least Nov. 30. Preparations for New Mexico’s regular legislative session, from mid-January through March, have been upended by an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks and days. Legislators are meeting with legal counsel to forge a plan for a legislative session amid the pandemic.

New faces in New Mexico State Senate

Nov 16, 2020

LAS CRUCES - The New Mexico Senate of the next four years will be much younger and less experienced as a result of the 2020 elections.

Departing senators John Arthur Smith, D-Deming (32 years); William Payne, R-Albuquerque (24 years); Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces (20 years) and Richard Martinez, D-Espanola (20 years) have a combined 96 years serving in the Senate.

They also hold some of the Senate’s top leadership positions. Papen is president pro tem. Smith is chairman of the Finance Committee. They were both defeated in the Democratic Primary Election.

New Mexico journalist to cover legislative session

Nov 16, 2020
Walt Rubel

A seasoned New Mexico political reporter is returning as a New Mexico Legislature correspondent for southern New Mexico.

Walt Rubel is the new legislature correspondent for a collaboration of media outlets, including the Carlsbad Current-Argus, KRWG-FM, The Las Cruces Bulletin and the Las Cruces Sun-News.

“Supporting collaboration is one of our core values at the New Mexico Local News Fund (NMLNF),” said Rashad Mahmood, co-director of NMLNF, an organization that raises funds to support local news providers and journalists across the state.