KRWG

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.

Rep. Brian Egolf

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A State Ethics Commission hearing officer has dismissed the third and final ethics complaint accusing New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf of a conflict of interest. The hearing officer says the complaint failed to prove any claim upon which relief can be granted. Retired Judge Sandra Price filed the complaint earlier this year accusing the Santa Fe Democrat of failing to disclose a conflict of interest when he pushed for civil rights legislation approved earlier this year. She claimed Egolf had a conflict because he works as an attorney whose business would benefit from the state Civil Rights Act that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law in April.   

Following last year’s Census, New Mexico lawmakers will redraw congressional and state legislative districts this fall. A coalition of community organizations has launched a campaign to ensure the public have a say in where those lines are drawn.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The State Auditor’s Office says New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s spending from her contingency fund for items such as food and alcohol apparently didn’t violate the law. But the office's report released Wednesday suggested that lawmakers should consider clarifying or tightening up on what spending is allowed. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the report said state law is unclear on whether particular expenses are directly connected with the governor’s duties or are privileges or allowances for state employees,  Auditor Brian Colon said lawmakers should consider reviewing the law and changing it “if they’re uncomfortable with the current approach....”

  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico spent $1.5 million to advertise the state during the Virgin Galactic space launch Sunday. KOV-TV reports that the state paid the money to display New Mexico's logo on video of the flight. A third of the money came from a $500,000 special appropriation by the New Mexico Legislature to market and promote the state during the flight. Tourism Department spokesman Cody Johnson said the rest came from the department’s budget. The flight saw Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson briefly rocket into space aboard the company’s winged space plane for the first time.

DEA

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico regulatory agency hopes to avoid a possible marijuana shortage by raising the number of plants that licensed producers could produce. The state Regulation and Licensing Department last week raised the previously planned per-grower limit of 4,500 plants to 8,000, and the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that producers also would be able to apply for incremental increases of 500 with a total cap of 10,000. The change responds to concerns that the 4,500-plant limit would lead to a supply shortage. New Mexico’s legalization of possession, use and growth of small amounts of recreational marijuana took effect June 29.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in New Mexico are asking the state attorney general to weigh in on a $1.75 billion spending dispute.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed the Legislature’s allocations of the federal pandemic relief money earlier this year, saying it should be distributed by her administration.

File / KRWG

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) would like to clarify for those interested in the development of community solar projects in New Mexico that the rules for implementing the state’s community solar program have not yet been established. Currently, the NMPRC is engaged in the Rulemaking process for the Community Solar Act, which was signed into law following the 2021 New Mexico legislative session. Those wishing to develop projects under the Community Solar Act will have established rules to follow on or before April 1, 2022.

State Representative Rebecca Dow Announces Run for Governor

Jul 7, 2021
Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences

Republican State Representative Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences has made it official: she's running for New Mexico Governor in 2022.  Dow has represented District 38 in the New Mexico House since 2017. If she wins the GOP primary, she will challenge incumbent Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“We are New Mexicans,” Dow said in a written statement. “When there’s work to be done, we do it. When there are problems to solve, we solve them. As a state, we have never experienced more dire conditions than we are currently struggling through right now.  Our children are going uneducated and unequipped for further schooling or jobs at best, and they are literally dying at worst. I refuse to get one more call that a child died from neglect and poor conditions. I will not let one more business suffer under draconian shutdown measures. I refuse to let power hungry career politicians like our Governor keep dragging us down to the bottom of every list. I know the people of New Mexico, and I know they deserve much better than this, so I’m stepping up to lead us, for the first time in a long time, in the right direction. It’s time for change."

imagebase.net

  GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A company that runs dozens of convenience stores and gas stations in New Mexico is suing the state over new liquor laws that took effect last week. Western Refining Retail claims a new provision singles out McKinley County by not letting gas stations there sell liquor. The new rule states any dispenser or retailer licensee who sells gasoline in a county with a population between 56,000 and 57,000 people cannot sell alcohol other than beer. McKinley is the only county that falls under that population threshold. Democratic Sen. George Munoz said alcoholism is a problem in the county and that's why he pushed for the language.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s new redistricting committee has rejected a rule proposed by its chairman to bar or require disclosure of members’ conversations with non-members about maps for new congressional and legislative districts. Retired Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez had included the proposal in his suggested package of rules for the committee and said it would provide transparency. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the proposal was criticized by conservative activists and left-leaning community groups, and that concerns were raised about discouraging participation from people who couldn’t testify at a public meeting. The commission on Friday accepted the rest of Chavez's suggested rules.

NM Supreme Court: Constitution unclear on public attendance for legislative sessions

Jun 30, 2021

  SANTA FE – There was no "clear and indisputable legal duty" by the Legislature to permit in-person public attendance at a special session last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Supreme Court concluded in an opinion issued today.

 

The opinion provides the detailed legal reasoning for the Court's divided decision – announced from the bench last June after hearing oral arguments – that allowed the Legislature to bar the public from entering the Capitol to attend the special session. The public was able to watch legislative proceedings online and remotely offer testimony at committee hearings.  

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham hails legalization of adult-use cannabis

Jun 29, 2021

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent Linda Trujillo on Tuesday heralded the official effective date of the Cannabis Regulation Act, which now provides for the personal possession and growth of cannabis in New Mexico, and officially establishes the Cannabis Control Division within RLD.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

“This is a landmark day, a huge step forward both for social justice and economic development in our state,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “We are proactively stopping the disproportionate criminalization of people of color for cannabis possession, and we are building a new industry in which all New Mexicans can participate—and that will bring millions of dollars to our local communities and our state.”

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republicans in the New Mexico Legislature are calling for a public debate over the $1.75 billion in federal aid they say the House and Senate should allocate. The money was part of the state budget passed by the Democratically-controlled Legislature this Spring. But Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed portions of the budget, arguing the $1.75 billion is for the executive to appropriate. Republicans are saying Monday that the Legislature should fight back, perhaps with an extraordinary session to discuss legal action against Lujan Grisham. They bemoaned a that Legislative Council on the subject Monday is being held privately, and that the public can't hear the discussion.

  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Legislative analysts say New Mexico is the only top oil-producing state to have recovered to pre-pandemic levels of production. But they warned a panel of state lawmakers during a meeting Wednesday that the market remains volatile and they should take care not to grow the state's budget based on forecasts that suggest more favorable revenues in the short term. The panel also heard from industry analysts about the effects of the Biden administration's actions on permitting and leasing. They said only a fraction of the inventory of federal land in New Mexico's share of the Permian Basin would be at risk since most of the area already is in production.

   

  Las Cruces, NM – On this edition of PUENTES a la comunidad, bridges to the community, host Emily Guerra spoke with non-profit organization “End of Life Options New Mexico” Board Member, MaryKay Brady about the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Act in effect in New Mexico June 18, 2021. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law on April 9, 2021 during the NM Legislative session, authorizing medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults and broaden the end-of-life options to patients, their families and healthcare providers. To be eligible for this procedure an individual must be a mentally capable adult terminally ill (with 6 months or less to live.)

District 35 Democratic State Representative Angelica Rubio says that New Mexico was already facing a housing crisis before the pandemic. Representative Rubio has co-sponsored legislation to offer more protections for renters in New Mexico. She recently talked to KRWG News about her efforts to address the issue. 

DEA

Adult-use cannabis will be legal in New Mexico at the end of June, but sales are not expected to begin until next Spring. 

The state will also allow New Mexico residents to grow cannabis at home.   Emily Kaltenbach of the Drug Policy Alliance says this is a key benefit of the law.

“I think there are multiple ways that it can benefit residents. For one, individuals who are low income can grow the plants at home, just like currently medical cannabis patients can. We obviously live in a very rural state, so folks that can’t drive hundreds of miles to get to the nearest retailer might choose to grow plants at home,” said Kaltenbach.

New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee to Meet in Las Cruces

May 11, 2021

SANTA FE – The Legislative Finance Committee will hold its May meeting in Las Cruces with an agenda that includes reports on evaluations of the unemployment insurance system and the state Department of Information Technology, higher education’s role in preparing work-ready college students, and federal stimulus funds for childcare providers and others, along with local issues.  Here is a statement from the finance committee:

“The committee is excited to get back on the road and into the communities of New Mexico after a year of remote meetings. Zoom makes the work doable but nothing is better than hearing directly from people throughout the state about the local and state issues that are important to them,” said Chairwoman Patty Lundstrom, D-Gallup.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators are bristling at vetoes by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that block legislative authority over new federal pandemic aid, and say they may seek a court ruling.

Democratic state Sen. George Muñoz of Gallup urged colleagues to seek an opinion from the state Supreme Court on Friday. A spokeswoman for the governor says the appropriation of federal funds falls to the executive branch of state government — though the governor welcomes collaboration with the Legislature.

Las Cruces Projects Included In New Mexico Capital Outlay

Apr 14, 2021

LAS CRUCES - The capital outlay bill signed last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham includes more than $28 million in funding for projects in Dona Ana County, as well as millions for other projects in southern New Mexico.

The bill funds more than $511 million in projects throughout the state, including roughly $64 million for water and wastewater improvements, $53 million for roads, $49 million for higher education, $48 million for public safety and $8 million for acequias, dams and ditches. There is also $12.5 million to support Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) projects and $10 million for health facilities and prisons.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has vetoed a bill to overhaul oversight of police training and misconduct reviews. The governor said in a veto message Friday that the bill would have changed the composition of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board and eliminated two citizen members unaffiliated with law enforcement. She said the would have insulated the board from any civilian oversight and reduced accountability. The veto strikes down a bill that also included an increase in financial payouts to relatives of officers killed in the line of duty. The governor voiced no objection to that provision.

New Mexico Governor enacts state budget

Apr 9, 2021
Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday morning signed the New Mexico state budget for Fiscal Year 2022, a $7.4 billion package overwhelmingly approved by the state Legislature that sustains and enhances key state investments in public education, early childhood well-being, economic development and pandemic relief, behavioral health and infrastructure.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

The budget for the year beginning July 1, 2021, maintains 24 percent of recurring expenditures in reserves, or $1.7 billion, and 1.5 percent raises for public school and higher education personnel, as well as state employees and front-line health and social service workers.

New Mexico Earned Sick Leave Signed into Law

Apr 8, 2021

  Santa Fe, N.M. – All New Mexico workers will now have guaranteed access to earned sick leave, under new legislation signed into law today by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.  Here is a statement from the NM House Democrats:

  

House Bill 20: The Healthy Workplaces Act was sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Daymon Ely (D-Corrales), and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque).   

 

“No one should have to go to work sick and risk public health because they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay. Yet more than half of our state’s workforce, many of whom are in essential positions, have been denied the right to earned time off to care for themselves or a loved one when they fall ill,” said lead sponsor Rep. Chandler. “It’s been a hard-fought battle, but I’m so proud that New Mexico will now guarantee this fundamental right to everyone in our workforce.”  

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham signs End-of-Life Options Act

Apr 8, 2021

SANTA FE – After years of advocacy, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed into law a humane measure that will provide terminally ill patients the ability to seek medical aid in dying.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

Sponsored by Rep. Debbie Armstrong and Sen. Liz Stefanics, with support from co-sponsors Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil, Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero and Sen. Bill O’Neill, House Bill 47 enables patients who are terminally ill with the capacity to make informed decisions at the end of their lives to obtain medication for self-administration to help them avoid significant pain and suffering at the end of their lives.

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham ratifies Civil Rights Act

Apr 7, 2021
Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday signed into law the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, strengthening the protection of New Mexicans’ rights, privileges and immunities as provided for in the bill of rights of the state constitution.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

The measure allows a person to litigate any deprivation of those rights, privileges or immunities and prohibits the use of qualified immunity as a defense for depriving a person of those constitutional civil rights.

Per a Senate amendment, claims from incidents prior to July 1, 2021 – the effective date of the new law – may not be brought. A public body’s liability for damages under the state Civil Rights Act is capped at $2 million.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed over 100 bills this week, inking changes in taxation, healthcare, education and voting. One tax bill being signed Tuesday expands rebates and tax credits for working families by increasing benefits and broadening eligibility. A healthcare bill prevents hospitals from suing broke patients. A round of education bill signings will reduce paperwork for home school and community college students pursuing a four-year degree. And when it comes to elections, voters can expect major changes in 2022. Like other states, New Mexico will draw new lines for voting districts. Lujan Grisham is signing a bill that sends redistricting to a non-partisan commission.

New Mexico Governor enacts Family Income Index

Apr 5, 2021

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed legislation establishing the Family Income Index, an innovative strategy to direct additional funding to schools with concentrated poverty, which is known to contribute to low academic performance.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

“The Family Income Index is rooted in our desire to give every New Mexico student, no matter their family’s income status, an equal opportunity to the resources essential for a quality education,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “We know that when a school has many students in need, extra resources are needed for all. With this measure, we can meet that need with pinpoint accuracy.”

Rep. Brian Egolf

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The State Ethics Commission has dismissed two allegations in an ethics complaint against House Speaker Brian Egolf and instead will refer them to a legislative ethics committee. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the commission did not announce a decision on the complaint’s third allegation, that Egolf had failed to disclose a conflict of interest. The commission on Friday dismissed allegations that Egolf used his office’s powers to obtain personal benefit and failed to ethically discharge his duties as a legislator. The Santa Fe Democrat has denied the allegations. They center on his work as a lawyer and his push to enact civil rights legislation.

New Mexico Marijuana Legalization: A Years-Long Political Battle

Apr 1, 2021
Medlineplus.gov

This week’s vote to legalize adult-use marijuana in New Mexico comes after years of failures.

In the past, the math wasn’t there.  With some Democrats joining Republicans in opposing legalization, New Mexico watched while neighboring state Colorado raked in more than a billion dollars in revenue…and even heavily Republican states like Arizona approved legalization efforts too.

In Depth: New Mexico lawmakers pass marijuana legalization bills in special session

Apr 1, 2021
NIDA

Marijuana sales will be legal in New Mexico next year following passage of a bill Wednesday, March 31, on the second day of a special session called by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after a similar bill had failed to pass during the regular session.

The legislation, which takes effect in April 2022, will allow adults age 21 and older to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis flower, 16 grams of extract and 800 milligrams of edible cannabis at one time. They can possess more than that if stored at their private residence.

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