KRWG

Local Viewpoints

KRWG welcomes you to join our community discussion.  E-mail your comments to:  feedback @ nmsu.edu  Comments included here represent the views of the individual writers and do not necessarily represent the views of KRWG or New Mexico State University.  Submissions must adhere to these guidelines.

  Commentary: As this historic legislative session draws to a close, the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter issued the following statement:   


“This legislative session was defined by its highs and lows. Zoom offered unprecedented opportunities to speak out from home, but members of the public were too often refused the ability to comment or raise their voice, in some Senate committees in particular," said Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director. 


“This session also gave the public a window to the strength and determination displayed by the women and leaders of color in the Senate and House in the face of repeated bullying and abuse.

The Right to Earned Sick Leave Heads to Governor’s Desk

Mar 20, 2021
Rep. Angelica Rubio - Las Cruces

Commentary:  The right to earned sick leave for all New Mexican workers will now head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law, after the House voted 41-26 today to concur with amendments made in the Senate. 

 

House Bill 20: The Healthy Workplaces Act is 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)Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque), and Rep. Linda Serrato (D-Santa Fe).  

Legislative Session Yields Healthcare Wins For New Mexicans

Mar 20, 2021
Rep. Debbie Armstrong

Commentary: Rep. Debbie Armstrong, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, on Saturday called the 2021 legislative session a “win” for New Mexico patients and families.

“With bipartisan work and support, the Legislature came together this year to make healthcare more affordable, to ensure New Mexicans’ ability to make their own healthcare decisions and to continue to improve the delivery of services,” Armstrong said after the session ended at noon on Saturday. “These are big wins for New Mexico. In our state, we value community and taking care of one another. Expanding healthcare access reflects New Mexico values.”

Commentary: Following a letter sent from Senator Cliff Pirtle (District 32-Chaves, Eddy, and Otero) to Secretary of Health, Dr. Tracie Collins, the Department of Health has removed the ban on youth competitive play and scrimmage for club sports.

 

Senator Pirtle released the following statement applauding the Department’s decision:    

 

“I want to thank Dr. Collins and the Department of Health for making this reasonable and important modification to the state’s COVID-Safe Practices. Our young children have not been able to play since the spring of last year and were facing yet another lost season. With this change, they will now be able to safely return to competitive play.”

  Commentary: Senate Democrats today rejected an effort by Senator Mark Moores (District 21-Bernalillo) and Senate Republicans to repeal the state tax on social security. New Mexico is currently one of just 13 states to tax social security benefits, and of those states, New Mexico’s tax is the second harshest. 

 

“New Mexico’s tax on social security is a double tax on our citizens.” said Senator Moores. “This is particularly unfair for our seniors living on a fixed income. They were already disproportionately impacted by the pandemic this year, and this was one way for us to ease their burden. It is a shame that Senate and House Democrats continue to reject this reasonable effort to put more money back in the pockets of those who need it most.”

 

New Mexico’s heavy tax on social security is a major reason why Kiplinger’s, Money Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and Wallet Hub consistently rank the state as one of the worst to retire in.

Bill Establishing Office of Broadband Heads to the Governor

Mar 19, 2021

Commentary: Senate Bill 93, the Broadband Access & Expansion Act, passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 61-4. It now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

“The creation of the Office of Broadband Access and Expansion will bring extreme focus to our Broadband challenges and could generate over $970M in federal funding for our state,” said bill sponsor and broadband champion Senator Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque). “This office will ensure consistency across the continuum of how we deliver Broadband across our state, including some of the hardest to reach areas.”

Commentary: Representative Yvette Herrell put her own politics ahead of the safety of New Mexican women this week, when she voted against reauthorizing and expanding the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA funds critical programs to support at-risk women, including domestic violence shelters and resources for those who have been sexually assaulted. The program lapsed in 2018 and despite bipartisan support for this important bill, Herrell still refused to vote in favor of reauthorization. 

 “Yvette Herrell would rather play politics than ensure that New Mexican survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault get the resources they need,” said DPNM Chair Marg Elliston. “This should not be a partisan issue, and Herrell’s refusal to support it shows clearly that she’s more interested in her own politics than what’s best for New Mexico.” 

New Mexico Students and Parents Need School Choice Now

Mar 18, 2021

  Commentary: Even before the pandemic, the New Mexico education system has performed poorly. Despite the continuous and ever-increasing stream of money from the state designated for education, we consistently rank as one of the worst, if not the worst, states in the nation on educational success. New Mexico spends more per student than most of its neighbors and yet achieves scores far below them on student success. 

All of New Mexico’s Students Should Learn Financial Literacy

Mar 18, 2021

Commentary: One important reform that has quietly advanced during this year’s legislative session is House Bill 163, which would make a one-semester course in financial literacy a graduation requirement for New Mexico’s high school students. The bill is being co-sponsored by Representatives Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque), Meredith Dixon (D-Albuquerque), Willie Madrid (D-Chaparral), Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Albuquerque), and Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque).

House Bill 163 passed the House unanimously and has been awaiting a vote of the full Senate for several days.

End Predatory Lending In New Mexico: Cap Annual Interest Rates at 36%

Mar 18, 2021

Commentary: One of the top priorities of the current legislative session is helping New Mexicans recover from the unprecedented economic and public health emergency they have faced over the past year. This recovery package must include ending the predatory loans that are making a bad situation worse for so many families.

Think New Mexico is supporting Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Senator Bill Soules (Las Cruces), Senator Katy Duhigg (Albuquerque), Representative Susan Herrera (D-Espanola), and Representative Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena), and endorsed by Governor Lujan Grisham, to reduce the state’s maximum interest rate on small loans from 175% to 36%.

Blood Doesn't Guarantee Family

Mar 16, 2021

Commentary: Family lore from my dad's side goes like this: Decades ago, an aunt I've never met drove to my grandfather's house, walked up with her toddler in her arms and rang the bell. When her father came to the door, she told him, "This is my son — and you'll never get to know him." She turned around and left.

When I heard the story for the first time, it was shocking. I could not understand that type of animosity, especially toward family. I had a very placid childhood in general, with just me and my parents. All the extended family I knew lived 8,000 miles away in my mom's home country. We called and sent letters and packages, but I didn't have cousins who would romp around the backyard with me.

Las Cruces Area Educator: Do Not Rush Return To In-Person Learning

Mar 15, 2021
ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENT EDUCATION

Commentary: While I am a huge proponent of face-to-face teaching and fully understand the push to reopen the public schools, I am concerned about the proposed date of April 5th.  The teachers have been assured they will have access to vaccinations by the end of March.  If they receive one of the two dose vaccines they must wait 3 to 4 weeks until the second dose, and then another 2 weeks until full immunity is developed.  Only if the teachers all receive the J & J single dose vaccine before March 22, will they have protective immunity.

Removing barriers towards economic recovery

Mar 15, 2021

Commentary: New Mexico’s economic stability was struck by the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic. But as we move diligently in the path of recovery, it makes sense to remove as many barriers as possible to ensure our economy and the residents of our communities can get back on their feet.

During the 2021 Legislative session, we have an opportunity to remove administrative hurdles many hardworking New Mexicnas are facing when trying to access professional licenses, preventing them from fully integrating into our workforce and stimulating our local economies. It is time to remove barriers towards our economic recovery.

A rule broken with passage of every bill

Mar 15, 2021

Commentary: Every bill passed by the New Mexico Legislature begins with a conspiracy to break the rules and then cover it up. And every member is in on it.

Before the start of floor debate on any bill, the sponsor has to read the following disclaimer: “I ask unanimous consent that the rules be suspended and the record reflect that all actions have been taken ...” for final passage of the bill.

 

I always wondered why they didn’t just change the rule, instead of agreeing to break it every time. And I wondered what would happen if just one of the 112 members decided not to go along with the agreement.

Albuquerque Journal / Pool photo

  Commentary: Governor Lujan-Grisham and Dr. David Scraase are navigating well among dangerous shoals labeled “Raging, Red-Alert, Hospital-Filling COVID-19 Spread,” “Financial Ruin,” “Public Emergency,” and “Individual Rights.” It’s a tough, complex piloting job. But I’m troubled by a few apparent missteps, and more troubled by getting stiffed when I ask about them.

Similar conduct in similar structures presents a similar danger and should be similarly treated. Say a building has 80 audience seats and a platform from which people present, preach, or lecture. If political meetings that size were allowed, at partial capacity, and masked, but religious services weren’t, we’d hear much shouting and suffer lawsuits alleging unfair discrimination.

That discrimination would be unfair. The reverse is unfair, too. 

Commentary:  Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that at least 186 Mexican wolves are known to be living in the wilds of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The annual count shows an increase of 23 wolves since last year’s count, but conservationists urge caution in equating increasing numbers of wolves with adequate progress towards recovery. Wildlife advocates warn that full recovery is still impeded by serious barriers that need to be overcome if lobos are ever to inhabit their historical range in a meaningful way.

Commentary: Several advocacy organizations issued the following statement regarding passage today of the American Rescue Plan:

“We applaud the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is the kind of action we need now, when unemployed workers are still struggling to pay their bills, millions of families are falling further behind on rent and at risk of facing homelessness, and parents are worrying about how they will feed their children,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.

 

“We want to thank those members of our congressional delegation who worked hard to pass the American Rescue Plan and deliver the relief our state needs: Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan and Representatives Deb Haaland and Teresa Leger Fernandez,” he added.

Congressional Republicans Favor the Rich

Mar 10, 2021

Commentary: The pinnacle of hypocrisy is being exhibited by Congressional Republicans.

In 2017, they passed nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts mostly benefiting the wealthy and corporations that largely ended up in the hands of billionaires--but cannot vote for the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 Economic Relief bill that primarily benefits lower income folks, who suffered the most from the pandemic.

They argue it will increase the debt, it's not focused, will create inflation, and is not needed. Where were those arguments in 2017?  Can it be they do not give a darn about wage earners who work at a grocery store or educators who teach online and have kids at home because of the pandemic; restaurant and hotel workers who lost their jobs; small business owners that went bankrupt; or anyone who is not privileged?

  Commentary: Today, Senator Cliff Pirtle (District 32-Chaves, Eddy, and Otero) sent a letter to the Secretary of Health, Dr. Tracie Collins, urging the Department of Health to remove the current prohibition on youth sports games. Based on the current “COVID-Safe Practices for Summer Youth Sports and Programs,” youth sports are restricted to “conditioning and skills development,” and “competitive play and scrimmaging are not permitted.”    

  Commentary: Representative Yvette Herrell chose once again to put her personal politics ahead of the needs of New Mexicans today when she voted against the American Rescue Plan for the second time. Herrell opposed this critical COVID-19 relief even as local governments, small businesses, and New Mexican families continue to struggle with the public health and economic effects of a global pandemic. The president’s American Rescue Plan is overwhelmingly popular, with recent polling showing that over 70% of Americans support the bill, including over 60% of Republicans.

Have a Seat With an Elder Millennial

Mar 9, 2021

Commentary: This week, I'll be married for 10 years. I don't have student loan debt, but I have advanced degrees. I am not religious, but I'm not an atheist. I have a mortgage and recently invested in new windows. I speak to both my houseplants and to my two children. I'm counted as an elder millennial.

There's a broad band of diversity in our cohort, not just racial and ethnic diversity, which is more than any generation before us and expanded by Gen Z, but also the diverse ways we've experienced the generation. Matt Pearce, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, noted in a survey investigating elder millennials on Twitter that "generations are arbitrary, made-up categories with no firm boundaries, yet they are a durable, entrenched fiction we all deploy as a shorthand to interpret and order the inherent chaos of our social condition."

Commentary: The recent winter storm that brought freezing temperatures to most of Texas not only caused deaths and a lot of human suffering, but it also revealed the vulnerability of cross-border trade to the power system. El Paso, Texas is on a different grid than the rest of the state and did not suffer the severe outages that struck most of Texas. However, even though they are not supplied by the Texas electricity grid, residents in northern Mexican states such as Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon also suffered power outages and rolling blackouts. These anomalies cut off power to Mexican maquiladoras (production plants) and forced them to shut down.

New Mexico’s authority to set strong clean air, hazardous waste protections

Mar 8, 2021
Four Corners Power Plant. Photo courtesy of EcoFlight and San Juan Citizens Alliance

Commentary: We live in a beautiful state. We live in a place where ancient and alive cultures continue to teach and remind us that we must care for sacred land, water and our communities. We are to care for our brothers and sisters and Our Common Home. There is wisdom in these ethical values, and yet we are not listening.

For too long, antiquated state laws have limited the regulatory tools available to protect communities from rising threats to our air quality, to our drinking water and our climate. The state and local agencies tasked with protecting our health are hampered by laws that don’t allow them to adopt regulations that are stronger than federal standards.

Old books needing change should not inspire rage

Mar 8, 2021

Commentary: I did not like Green Eggs and Ham

I thought the book to be a scam.

I knew that it could not be right

for all the eggs I’d seen were white.


I was then too young to see

the humor in absurdity.

The notion of an egg gone green

seemed a most distasteful thing.

The Journey To My COVID-19 Vaccine In Las Cruces

Mar 7, 2021
Peter Goodman

 

  Commentary: The text (and an email) directed me to fill out an online medical questionnaire: nope, hadn’t been vaccinated, wasn’t pregnant or likely to be, and had no known allergies to shots. I read the warnings for Pfizer and Moderna.

I arrived around 1:15. Plenty of cars. Plenty of soldiers, fire department personnel, and volunteers to make sure I stayed put to answer questions before joining the long, physically-distanced line inside the main entrance. The vaccines (J&J) were late. Suddenly looked like a long wait. Felt mildly disappointed it was the J&J vaccine, but would take what I got.

  Commentary: Gaining access to education is a complex, constant, and frustrating challenge for students with developmental disabilities and their families and has only become harder in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic.

 

All too often Individual Education Plans (IEP) intended to be tailored to the unique needs of a particular student are instead generic or not adhered to by teachers and school administrators, yet the process to address those concerns is complex, time consuming, and typically fails to get the job done.

Pursuing child support no longer required to qualify for child care assistance

Mar 3, 2021

  Commentary: Many more families now qualify for New Mexico’s Child Care Assistance Program after the elimination of multiple unnecessary eligibility requirements. The program provides help with the costs of child care for parents and guardians who are working or in school. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department released the new rules, which became effective yesterday, after workers and worker’s rights groups lobbied New Mexico agencies for years to eliminate barriers to the program. 

Former Interior Secretaries Call For Border Restoration

Mar 3, 2021
Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity.

Commentary: The borderland region surrounding the US-Mexico border, an area of rich natural and cultural diversity, is in desperate need of federal investment given widespread environmental and social damage caused by the single-minded focus on wall construction, say Bruce Babbitt and Sally Jewell, both former Secretaries of the Interior. The two have forwarded recommendations from community leaders and conservation groups in the border states urging President Biden to reopen strategic sections of the wall to allow for wildlife migration and repair lands and waters damaged during the wall’s construction. They propose a job corps to train and employ residents of impoverished border communities to restore the environment and rebuild a sustainable economy. Their letter, signed by 26 regional conservation leaders who are working cooperatively on both sides of the border, advocates for a binational, community-based effort to repair damage to land, water, and wildlife. They propose measures to address the recent destruction, which has included bulldozing nature reserves, blasting indigenous sacred sites and burial grounds, over -pumping aquifers and natural wetlands, and blocking passage of both wildlife migrations and traditional pilgrimage routes that have united cross-border communities for millennia.

  Commentary: How do you run a fire department without essential equipment like dedicated water tanks, fire trucks, and PPE? This is a question that fire chiefs across New Mexico are asking themselves every day. And with the Fire Grant Fund, we thought we had an answer for them. When resources are limited, fire departments can usually request additional funding from the Fire Grant Fund. But in a year of unprecedented budget shortfalls, the Grant Fund was forced to reject appeals from many departments in need.

The Wonder in Brief Moments of Caring

Mar 2, 2021
worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Commentary: I used to work on a university campus. Women from various offices would use their lunch hour to put on their tennis shoes, change into tight athletic pants, throw on the old "1994 Gardening To Live" shirt and power-walk the halls of the building. I was young enough to find the women unrelatable. Years later, I remembered them when I plotted a mile in the building in which I was then working; I wanted to get my daily steps in during my breaks.

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