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FRI: New Mexico EV mandates to remain in place as auto dealers fight them, + More

Electric vehicle charging stations at the Bataan Memorial Building in Santa Fe, N.M. Mandates for auto dealers to provide an increasing number of electric vehicles for sale across New Mexico will remain in place as state regulators on Friday, April 5, 2024, denied an effort to derail implementation of the new rules pending a legal challenge.
Thom Cole
New Mexico General Services Department via AP
Electric vehicle charging stations at the Bataan Memorial Building in Santa Fe, N.M. Mandates for auto dealers to provide an increasing number of electric vehicles for sale across New Mexico will remain in place as state regulators on Friday, April 5, 2024, denied an effort to derail implementation of the new rules pending a legal challenge.

New Mexico electric vehicle mandates to remain in place as auto dealers fight the new rules - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Mandates for auto dealers to provide an increasing number of electric vehicles for sale across New Mexico will remain in place as state regulators on Friday denied an effort to derail implementation of the new rules pending a legal challenge.

Members of the state Environmental Improvement Board voted 4-1 after deliberating behind closed doors, marking a setback to the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association as it pursues its challenge before the state Court of Appeals.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been pushing for more electric vehicles in the state, saying doing so will curb emissions and help address climate change. The state has adopted more stringent standards for vehicle emissions and established the mandates for inventories of zero-emission vehicles, winning praise from environmentalists.

But local auto dealers and others, including Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren, are concerned that the mandates will have negative effects particularly for rural communities that lack electric vehicle charging infrastructure. They also have argued that affordability is an issue for consumers on the Navajo Nation and across New Mexico.

Republicans in the legislative minority also have criticized the governor's plans as impractical, citing the range that many people have to drive in New Mexico — which is the fifth largest state in the U.S., although sparsely populated.

Starting in 2026, 43% of all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks shipped to New Mexico auto dealerships by national auto manufacturers must be zero-emission vehicles. The rules also call for 15% of all new commercial heavy-duty trucks to be zero-emission vehicles.

By 2032, four out of every five passenger cars shipped to the state by manufacturers must have zero emissions.

"These standards are poised to slash harmful tailpipe pollution and save lives as they make New Mexico households, businesses, and economy less tethered to volatile and costly gasoline that damages our climate," the advocacy group New Mexico Clean Air said in a statement after Friday's vote.

The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board, which covers the most populated area in the state, also supports the rules.

While New Mexico is pushing ahead with its clean car initiatives, federal regulators have opted to relax initial tailpipe limits that were proposed last year. That decision followed news that EV sales were beginning to slow in December.

Carlos Garcia, with Garcia Automotive Group, one of the largest car dealership networks in the state, had testified that the EV market was flat despite claims made by environmentalists. He pointed to recent announcements that Toyota, Honda, Ford and other major manufacturers were cutting their forecasts and EV spending.

"It is clear that this rule has far-reaching effects beyond air quality and will impact every New Mexican socially and economically, not just car dealers and the thousands of employees in the automotive industry," he said in written testimony. "The economic implications this rule forces on all New Mexicans will cause irreparable harm to many."

Critics also said the tax incentives promised by Democratic legislative leaders for electric vehicles are income restricted and capped at prices that ends up excluding much of the market. Garcia said not one pickup truck would qualify for the incentive.

Some board members had questioned during the hearing in March if delaying implementation of the mandates would signal a rolling back of the momentum in New Mexico. Dealers argued the market isn't ripe yet, but environmentalists said the state would be among the leaders nationally if it sticks with its emission standards and the benchmarks for EV sales.

Lujan Grisham issues order to step up state’s cybersecurity - By Nash Jones, KUNM News 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order Friday meant to strengthen the cybersecurity of New Mexico government agencies. In her announcement, she called the matter one of “public safety and national security.”

Under the order, the Department of Information Technology will assess the IT security of all state departments in an effort to identify and fortify weak spots.

For their part, the agencies themselves must adopt cybersecurity and privacy policies in line with standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The agencies must be in compliance with the standards by November unless they seek an exemption from the IT department. Applications for exemptions must include a plan to get into compliance.

While the order only applies to agencies under the governor’s executive branch, she encourages other public entities to voluntarily participate.

How to participate in NM’s 2024 primary elections - Austin Fisher, Source New Mexico 

New Mexico’s primary election will determine who will appear on the general election ballot this November.

Primary election day will be held on June 4. Early voting begins May 7. These dates can affect whether voters can participate in the primaries being held by political parties in the state.


If someone wants to register to vote online at NMVote.org or by mail, they must do so by May 7, Alex Curtas, a spokesperson with the New Mexico Secretary of State said.

As long as someone goes in-person to a polling place in their county, they’ll be able to register and vote in the same transaction, Curtas said. This is called “same-day voter registration.”

The secretary of state directs eligible voters who want a mail-in ballot to apply online here, however, the mail-in ballot application page on the website is not working. Curtas did not respond to follow up questions about the problem with the online system in time for publication. Source New Mexico will update this story when we hear back.

Anyone can still request a mail-in ballot by filling out this form and returning it to their county clerk.

If someone doesn’t want to register to vote online, they can register to vote through the mail by filling out the official paper application (English / Español) and mailing it to their local county clerk’s office. Mailing addresses for county clerks are found here.

Data show there are more than 310,000 New Mexicans who are old enough to vote but are not registered.

There are an estimated 1,638,985 people of voting age in New Mexico, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

As of Jan. 31, there were 1,328,593 people registered to vote in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.


New Mexico has what’s called a “modified open primary,” Curtas said.

The primaries are technically closed, so a voter must declare a party affiliation and only vote for candidates on that party’s ticket.

But around 25% of New Mexico voters are not affiliated with one of the three major political parties in the state.

Because of the state’s same-day registration option, those people who aren’t affiliated with a major party can switch their party affiliation and vote on the same day. This is available during general elections, but could also have a drastic impact on party politics during primaries.

Democratic, Republican and Libertarian voters make up the major parties in the state. The Green Party of New Mexico is the only qualified minor party with the secretary of state.

If someone is undeclared or not affiliated with any major party, they can go to any polling place during early voting or on election day, choose their party and vote in that party’s primary.

If someone is already affiliated with a major party, however, they cannot switch their party and vote on the same day, Curtas said.

Any person can switch their party affiliation online or by mail before May 7, Curtas said.

The latest New Mexico Secretary of State data show 43.5% of registered voters are Democrats; 31.1% are Republicans; and 23.3% are either independent, unaffiliated with any party or declined to select a party.

Another 1.1% are registered Libertarians and 0.9% are marked “other” in the statewide voter statistics.


To vote in person, find a local polling place here. Once registered, voters can see a sample of what their ballot will look like, along with any other information they might need, here.

Curtas also encouraged people to vote by mail.

“It’s completely secure, and there are lots of different accountability processes built in there,” Curtas said.

Most counties have multiple secure ballot drop box locations where people can drop off their mail-in ballots, Curtas said. People can also drop off their mail-in ballots at any polling place in the county where they’re registered to vote.

Town Hall on CRRUA water issue in Sunland Park set for 5 p.m. Friday - Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico

Sunland Park and water utility officials are hosting a town hall this Friday as scrutiny over water quality issues from Camino Real Regional Utility Authority have increased.


5 p.m. In-person event.

Where: Sunland Park City Council Chambers, 1000 McNutt Road Suite A Sunland Park, NM 88063

On Thursday, Sunland Park city clerk Karla Herrera posted a notice that a majority of the six councilors could be present at the town hall.

“The event is not a ‘public meeting’ within the definition of the Open Meetings Act,” the notice read. “No policy will be formulated; nor will any discussion be had for the purpose of taking action.”

In recent months, the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority (CRRUA) has received multiple citations for violations of water quality from New Mexico environment officials. This includes allegations that water withhigh levels of arsenic was sent to customers for potentially more than a year.

The meeting is hosted by Sunland Park city councilor Alberto Jaramillo, said Udell Vigil, a spokesperson for the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority.

Jaramillo invited the CRRUA interim executive director Juan Carlos Crosby to give a report at the town hall, Vigil said. There’s no agenda for the meeting.

Jaramillo and Sunland Park mayor Javier Perea are also Camino Real Regional Utility Authority board members.

At a City of Sunland Park meeting Tuesday, CBS 4 reported that frustrated community members asked the Perea and members of the city council to step down, as state agencies boost scrutiny overthe utility’s water quality issues.

Four Las Cruces attorneys have filed atort claim against Sunland Park, an action that often comes before a lawsuit. The lawyers allege that CRRUA violated residents’ civil rights for failing to tell them about a malfunction which sent water with ahigh pH to more than 1,000 households. The company waiteddays to tell the public about the contamination issue.

The utility will not be sharing any additional information at Friday’s meeting according to another board member’s social media posts.

According to screenshots of a private Facebook group for Sunland Park residents obtained by Source NM, Raul Telles Jr. the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority board vice chair said the utility’s answers would be limited during the meeting on Friday.

“So you know in advance, no information other than what has been made public, found on the corresponding pages for CRRUA, will be discussed or answered,” Telles posted on the Facebook page.

One of the attorneys representing residents in the tort claim, said that CRRUA was “blaming the attorneys,” instead of offering answers.

“CRRUA continues to finger-point away from itself, and is failing to take responsibility,” said attorney Israel Chávez, when reached by phone Thursday.

APD finds Chief Medina’s crash was not preventable and not criminal - By Elise Kaplan,City Desk ABQ

The Albuquerque Police Department’s Fleet Crash Review Board and its Fatal Crash Unit have reviewed the chief’s actions leading up to him running a red light and crashing into another vehicle while fleeing the sound of gunfire.

They determined the crash was not preventable and he should not be criminally charged, members of APD told the Albuquerque City Council Wednesday night.

However, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Samantha Sengel stressed that many other eyes will review the investigation into Chief Harold Medina.

“The District Attorney’s office has that case — which is completed by our investigators — therefore it is an independent review,” she said. “Our independent monitor (Victor Valdez) — who has been approved by the Department of Justice as an independent monitor for us to continue compliance as we go forward — will review this.”

Sengel added: “Then lastly we will be inviting the Department of Justice — which we have no authority over and no ability to direct — to also review this in this monitoring period.”

Sengel said the city also asked the New Mexico State Police to review the investigation.

However, an NMSP spokesperson told City Desk ABQ on Thursday that it will not be reviewing the incident although he did not answer follow-up questions as to why not.

The attorney for Todd Perchert, who was severely injured in the crash, told City Desk ABQ that they were disappointed with the findings by the Fatal Crash Unit, “who state the chief failed to activate his emergency lights and sirens.”

“He never gave our client the chance to stop or slow down because the chief never activated his emergency lights or sirens,” said James Tawney of Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C., in a statement. “The chief also put other drivers’ lives at risk. ART bus station video shows the chief weaving through two other vehicles before slamming into Perchert’s Ford Mustang. These actions display the chief’s poor judgment and complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others.”


Sgt. Ryan Stone and Cmdr. Benito Martinez, who sit on the crash review board, appeared before the council to explain their findings that the crash was non-preventable. They said the vote by four sworn officers and one civilian was unanimous.

“He was in the line of traffic, his wife was in the vehicle, I don’t think he could have engaged that target,” Stone said. “Myself, I would have moved forward to get out of the immediate threat. That’s part of my decision on why it was non-preventable … I think he exercised normal judgment and foresight, getting out of the way of a firearm. We know there was a firearm, we know there was an altercation, and we know there was a shot fired.”

However, the conclusion raised the eyebrows of some of the councilors, who repeatedly questioned how the board could challenge or effectively question the head of the department.

“I just find it impossible to believe that a fair challenge or a good, tough, honest questioning would happen in this regard,” Council President Dan Lewis said. “Which was the reason why this council was requesting a different process. Not to be critical of you, I think you guys are doing your job, but I think you’d be facing an impossible situation in that regard.”

In response to Councilor Louie Sanchez asking whether anyone asked the chief anything during the board’s investigation, Stone said some members asked questions but he could not remember exactly what they were and nor were they written down.

Sanchez listed the things he would have asked, including how they knew that Medina was in fact in a dangerous situation, particularly given the fact that he was in an unmarked vehicle.

“There’s a good chance that every single person in that area who was in an unmarked car did not deem to be a threat to those individuals or did not think that they were in a threatening situation,” Sanchez said. “Only one person, with all these cars around, thought they were in a dangerous situation. There seem to be a lot of things missing from your investigation.”

Martinez said the crash review board would not normally have handled this case but did so because of its high-profile nature and to make sure “everybody’s doing everything in their due diligence to make sure they do not mess up in this investigation.”


Meanwhile, the Fatal Crash Unit — which normally would be the only entity tasked with investigating the crash — also completed its investigation, finding that Medina “will not be held criminally liable for the incident.”

“Chief Medina violated New Mexico State Statute, ‘Traffic-control signal legend,’ which directly induced the crash,” an offense report for the incident states. “According to State v. Harris ‘injury caused by mere negligence, not amounting to a reckless, willful and wanton disregard of consequences, cannot be made the basis of a criminal action.’’

Investigators spoke with Medina, his wife and 58-year-old Perchert, who was severely injured. Perchert’s 1966 gold Ford Mustang was totaled.


Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia explained to the council what will happen next, saying that the Internal Affairs Division will receive the findings from the Fleet Crash Review Board. Since they ruled it was non-preventable, no disciplinary action will be taken.

However, he said Internal Affairs will continue to review the incident and is “trying to identify any possible SOP sections that may have been violated.” Medina took a drug and alcohol test following the crash, which came back negative, Sengel said.

Garcia said internal investigators are reviewing body camera videos and security camera footage as well as identifying any other possible witnesses.

“After reviewing all the evidence, the investigator will compile a list of questions for the witnesses, they’ll interview the witnesses,” Garcia said. “A revision of that list of SOP sections will be looked at just in case there are other additional SOP violations that are identified and at that point, the target in the investigation is interviewed.”

In response to questions from Councilor Lewis about how they can be assured the internal affairs investigation won’t be biased, Garcia — who answers to the mayor’s office, not the chief — pointed out that they are almost in full compliance with the court-mandated reform effort “as far as disciplinary action and how we impose that discipline with the monitoring team.”

“I think that shows that we have a good track record of imposing discipline fair and equitable throughout the department, regardless of rank,” Garcia said. “I have not been questioned as far as my decisions being made. That’s why I’m in this position right now.”

No-Confidence Vote Goes Nowhere Again - By Carolyn Carlson,City Desk ABQ

It was a no vote for a vote of no confidence leveled against the Albuquerque Police Chief at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Councilor Louie Sanchez sponsored the declaration of no confidence but withdrew it after a lengthy discussion. This was his third attempt at getting the message off the council table and into the mayor’s office.

Police Chief Harold Medina has been under the microscope for several reasons. In January, news dropped that there was a federal investigation into several APD officers who were implicated in a DWI scandal where nearly 200 cases were dismissed. Five officers resigned before attending Internal Affairs interviews. More questions arose after Medina was involved in a crash in his department vehicle while fleeing gunfire at the intersection of Central Avenue and Alvarado Drive with his wife in the car.

Prior to the no-confidence vote, officers from the Crash Review Board told the council that Medina’s crash was non-preventable.


Sanchez first asked for a deferral for his declaration saying that while something needs to change at the city’s police department, some time is needed to answer the questions raised by the council. Councilor Nichole Rogers questioned whether this was a human resource issue and if there was a process to evaluate department leaders. City administrators said there was and they would get her the information.

Councilor Klarissa Peña commented on Sanchez’s no-confidence declaration. She said she did not support a deferral and they should just vote it up or down. She said she looks for due process when making a decision and much of the declaration was based on public outcry, was subjective and not based on facts.

She said the allegations of unchecked corruption, profound lack of leadership and mismanagement of the police department are not substantiated.

“Where are the facts?” Peña asked. “I have seen some successes come out of this chief.”

She asked who put this memo together without facts, to which council staff replied that they assisted with the writing but it was done at the direction of Councilor Sanchez. Peña said she had human resource questions about the council approving this message and City Attorney Lauren Keefe said there were HR implications and those are best discussed in executive session.

The motion to defer failed on a 5 to 4 vote. This would normally prompt a call for the vote to be taken and not deferred.

Sanchez then motioned to have his message of no confidence withdrawn, instead of facing a vote.

“What I heard was this needs a little bit more work, so I am going to withdraw it,” he said.

Councilors unanimously approved a withdrawal of the motion.

If the message of no confidence had been approved, it would bear no weight and would have just been sent to Mayor Tim Keller’s office. It is a first step in the process leading up to a removal vote. Voters changed the city charter to give the council the power to remove a police chief and it must be done by a vote of two-thirds — or six votes.


  • Councilors filed a grant application from the State Outdoor Recreation Division for expanding and improving disc golf facilities.
  • Councilors authorized the sale of almost $112 million in general obligation bonds to finance city projects relating to public safety, seniors, homelessness and community enhancement, parks and recreation, transportation and many other projects approved by the voters.
  • Councilors approved an alignment of the Rio Grande Trail which is the state’s portion of a roughly 500-mile trail plan from Colorado to Texas for hiking, biking and horseback riding along the river. There are currently only about 88 miles completed with six state parks on board. The city is looking to align the Paseo del Bosque trail with the state’s larger Rio Grande Trail plan.

They also approved the filing of an application from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund for a grant to purchase the 640-acre Northern Sand Dunes property to be part of the Open Space Division. The property is privately owned, vacant and located on the city’s Westside, southwest of the Shooting Range Park. The property was recently appraised for $550,000, according to city documents.
Medicaid open enrollment begins - By Susan Dunlap,New Mexico Political Report

Open enrollment for Medicaid recipients begins this week.

The New Mexico Human Services Department announced that the open enrollment period for Medicaid under the new Turquoise Care program began on Monday and will continue until May 31. This year the open enrollment will include expanded managed care options, according to a news release.

HSD will automatically reenroll current Medicaid recipients who are currently enrolled in existing Presbyterian Health Plan and BlueCross BlueShield plans if they do not choose an MCO, the release states. Individuals who are covered through Western Sky Community Care will be assigned to another MCO if they do not choose a new plan as that insurance company will no longer provide services through Medicaid, according to the release.

The Turquoise Care program is set to begin on July 1.

HSD and the MCOs will host more than 20 statewide informational events on Turquoise Care in the upcoming weeks to further assist Medicaid customers. More information about times, dates and locations can be found here.

Medicaid customers enrolled with an MCO will receive instructions in a yellow envelope from HSD beginning in April, according to the release.

Medicaid recipients can choose their MCO through the following methods:

· Go to yes.state.nm.us and use the Chat feature to choose their MCO.

· Log into their YesNM account at yes.state.nm.us and choose their MCO.

· Complete the open enrollment paperwork they will receive in the mail.

· Call 1-800-283-4465 and choose their MCO.

Available MCOs include:

· Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico

· Molina Healthcare of New Mexico

· Presbyterian Turquoise Care

· United Healthcare Community Plan of New Mexico To learn more, visit the HSD website.