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The KUNM news team's coverage of the 2020 legislative session and its impacts

YNMG & COVID: The Doors Are Locked

Pixabay via Flickr CC

In episode 78 we discuss what’s happening in Santa Fe at the legislative special session. It’s a unique situation up there; COVID-19 precautions have led to a locked-in session with no opportunity for citizens to attend in person. But first, we hear from organizers of the Albuquerque Juneteenth celebration commemorating 155 years since the official end of slavery in Texas, with the entire United States following soon after. 

Hosanna Scott and Kieran Freeman of Black Voices ABQ are spearheading the Juneteenth celebration in Albuquerque this year. They’ve taken safety precautions in light of COVID-19, but they say it’s more important to celebrate freedom and continue to push for the racial equity that people of color have been fighting for for generations. 

KUNM’s Nash Jones describes the scene at the state capitol building during the locked-down special legislative session that started yesterday. The only public access is online – causing a ruckus yesterday when callers using Zoom to comment used racist language and others rambled off topic. Citizens and several lawmakers, too, have had trouble accessing bills electronically.  

Mary Parr-Sanchez is President of the National Education Association of New Mexico. She says teachers’ pay in New Mexico is on the low side compared to other states and that it’s not keeping up with rising insurance prices or the cost of living. New Mexico is losing teachers. Further, COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into the budget and school administrators are unsure how to reopen safely. 

Andy Lyman from The New Mexico Political Report talks over some of the ideas lawmakers in the legislature have for police reform. With a bill to create a Civil Rights Commission and another for mandatory body cameras for all officers, there are likely some reforms on the horizon.

New Mexico Senator Cliff Pirtle sits on the Finance Committee. He tells us that small businesses that were shuttered by COVID-19 precautions could be paid reparations by the state. He also suggests making small cuts to nearly all budget items to help offset the losses from the oil market crash that created a fiscal emergency in New Mexico. 

And now a check-in on COVID-19 news:

In New Mexico today, state officials reported 112 new confirmed cases, with 22 of those in McKinley County, 17 in San Juan County, 15 in Bernalillo County, and 10 in Dona Ana County. There were eight additional deaths, including one state prisoner in Otero County, where an outbreak has infected hundreds of inmates. The death toll in the state is now 464. 

We're keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here's what we got from today.

What do you think legislators should prioritize during the meeting this week? Is police reform your top issue? Maybe education, or the budget generally? Share your thoughts by calling (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We may include it in a future episode.


Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.


Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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