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House Speaker Rejects Impeachment Petition Against Governor, Numerous Gun Bills In Legislature

Feb 12, 2019

New Mexico Lawmaker Urges Safety Over PoliticsAssociated Press

A Republican leader in the state House of Representatives says New Mexicans are making their voices heard through a petition that seeks to impeach the Democratic governor over her decision to withdraw National Guard troops from the border.

Minority Whip Rod Montoya of Farmington acknowledged Tuesday that the effort likely would not go far since Democrats control the House but that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her supporters in the chamber should listen to the concerns of New Mexicans.

He says public safety should come before politics.

The petition had garnered more than 35,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon as federal border authorities announced another group of more than 300 migrants had been apprehended at Sunland Park. That marked the second large group to be taken into custody at the border in 24 hours.

House Speaker Rejects Impeachment PetitionAssociated Press

The Democratic speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives says there is no way he would initiate impeachment proceedings against the state's governor for withdrawing troops from the border with Mexico.

An online petition seeks to impeach Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for treason in withdrawing about 100 New Mexico National Guard troops and has garnered more than 30,000 signatures.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe said "no way, forget about it" regarding prospects for impeachment proceedings. He holds the authority to initiate House investigations.

Lujan Grisham has challenged President Trump's description of a security crisis on the border, while leaving about a dozen national guardsmen at the border to address humanitarian needs in a remote corridor for border-crossing immigration.

Impeachment in New Mexico requires a majority vote of all House members. A subsequent Senate trial requires a two-thirds majority to convict.

311 Migrants Arrested At New Mexico Border CrossingAssociated Press

Federal border authorities say more migrants have been arrested after illegally crossing into the United States, marking the second wave of 300 people or more to arrive in New Mexico in less than 24 hours.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday that the latest group of 311 people made their way around the pedestrian fence at Sunland Park late Monday.

The other group of 330 Central Americans was detained early Monday at the more remote Antelope Wells port of entry to the west.

While more than two dozen large groups of 100 migrants or more have been apprehended in the region since Oct. 1, authorities say this marks the first large group encountered at Sunland Park.

Like the previous instances, this group also included Central American families and unaccompanied juveniles.

Mexican Wolves Caught In Traps In New Mexico - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Environmentalists are raising concerns about trapping on public lands after four Mexican gray wolves were caught in traps on national forest land in southwestern New Mexico over the last two months.

Defenders of Wildlife said Tuesday one of the endangered predators died and another was placed in captivity and had its leg amputated. The two others were re-released into the wild.

The group says more than 40 have been caught in traps in the Southwest since 2002.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The wolf management team this week is conducting an annual survey of the wild population in New Mexico and Arizona.

While licensed trapping of other furbearing animals is legal, some New Mexico Democrats are pushing this legislative session to ban the practice on public lands.

New Mexico Nets Record Revenues From Oil Production - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Oil production in New Mexico has surged, resulting in record revenues for government coffers and public education.

Figures released Tuesday by an industry group show revenues and taxes from the oil and natural gas sector reached a high of $2.2 billion for the 2018 fiscal year.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association says that represents an increase of $465 million over the previous fiscal year.

The association's executive director, Ryan Flynn, says the revenue boost is providing New Mexico lawmakers with more flexibility as they chart out their spending priorities for the upcoming year.

The boom has been driven by production in the Permian Basin, which straddles southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. Flynn says New Mexico's status as one of the top producers in the U.S. will depend on maintaining regulatory certainty.

A Glance At Gun Control Bills In The New Mexico Legislature - Associated Press

An ambitious slate of bills related to firearms and school safety could vault New Mexico to the forefront of efforts by states to stem gun violence through new legislation.

The arrival in January of a Democratic governor to succeed a pro-gun rights Republican has opened the door to calls for broader background checks on private gun sales and initiatives to remove firearms from the hands of people who may be suicidal or seen as a danger to others. Lawmakers were poised Tuesday to advance major gun-reform initiatives.

Another pending bill would ensure that teachers cannot carry firearms at schools and set protocols for armed guards.

Many of the bills are confronting public skepticism and opposition from rural sheriffs in a state with a strong culture of gun ownership.

Women's Caucus Emerges In New Mexico Legislature - Associated Press

Women legislators in New Mexico are forming a women's caucus to leverage their growing numbers and influence.

Democratic state House Rep. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe said Monday the group includes lawmakers from both major political parties and is designed to push for reforms that can help women, children and families.

More details about the alliance's agenda will emerge as it approves bylaws and confirms officers.

In November, 31 women won election to the 70-seat state House of Representatives. That's a stark change from 1973, when there were none.

Among Democrats in the House, women now outnumber men. The governor's office passed from one woman governor to another last month.

Men outnumber women 34-8 in the state Senate after the governor's appointment last month of Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

Work Begins On Ground Rules For Ethics Board In New Mexico - Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are moving forward with the creation of an independent ethics commission to evaluate complaints and questions about the conduct of elected officials, public employees, lobbyists and others.

A bill filed by Democratic Rep. Daymon Ely on Monday sets out procedures for the commission to follow as it evaluates ethics complaints.

Voters overwhelmingly authorized the creation of the seven-member commission last year in a statewide vote but left many details up to future legislation.

Ely says the bill aims to encourage people to file ethics complaints and also provide due process protections for those accused of ethical violations.

He says the commission will consider whether a complaint is frivolous before making it public, but will not prevent accusers or the accused from speaking publicly on allegations.

 

Governor Appoints 3 To Bench In Bernalillo County - Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed three attorneys to fill vacancies in one of the state's busiest courthouses.

The Democratic governor announced Monday that she has named Brittany Maldonado Malott, David Murphy and Felicia Blea-Rivera to the bench in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.

They are replacing Judge Sharon Walton, who retired, and judges Kenny Montoya and Edward Benavidez, who did not receive enough votes in the last election to retain their seats.

Lujan Grisham said in a statement that Maldonado Malott most recently worked as a public defender. Murphy, who also has a background as a public defender, is leaving the Bernalillo County district attorney's office to become a judge.

Blea-Rivera joins the court after serving as an attorney on behalf of counties for the New Mexico Association of Counties.

New Mexico Might Require Diaper Tables In All New Restrooms - Associated Press

A new proposal would require all new public restrooms in New Mexico to have baby changing tables.

A bill sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Andres Romero of Albuquerque is scheduled to face its first test Tuesday in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.

Under the proposal, hotel lobbies, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and concert halls would be required to put baby changing tables in new men's and women's restrooms.

A similar proposal failed in New Mexico two years ago.

In 2016, President Obama signed legislation requiring baby changing stations in both men's and women's restrooms in federal buildings that are open to the public.

Las Cruces Diocese Releases Accused Priests' Personnel Files - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Thousands of pages that include the personnel files of more than two dozen priests accused of sexually abusing children have been turned over to the New Mexico attorney general's office, the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces said Monday.

Diocese officials also identified 13 other priests who have been the subject of credible allegations while serving in other dioceses.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas said the documents were released following a review of personnel files and archives of clergy and staff that are held by the diocese. While some information was redacted due to privacy concerns, he said the move is part of the diocese's efforts to address past mistakes.

Kicanas apologized to those who have been hurt over the years and those whose complaints were ignored, but he said church officials have to go beyond apologies and "demonstrate our resolve in measurable ways."

The release comes as the Catholic Church reckons globally with a wide-ranging sexual abuse scandal.

New Mexico AG Wants Ex-Priest In Jail Before Rape Trial - Associated Press

Prosecutors are seeking to keep in jail a former Catholic priest arrested last week for kidnapping and raping a 6-year-old boy in the 1980s.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office filed a motion Monday to hold Marvin Archuleta until his trial for kidnapping and raping charges.

The 81-year-old Archuleta made his first court appearance Monday after he was arrested Friday in Albuquerque.

According to court documents, Archuleta raped a 6-year-old boy attending the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, during the mid-1980s. Documents say Archuleta raped the boy while wrapping a belt around the child's chest.

Prosecutors say Archuleta fled to Mexico after he was sued for sexual abuse but returned to New Mexico later.

Archuleta has not hired an attorney.

UNM Researchers Aim To Tackle Big Challenges In New Mexico - Associated Press

The University of New Mexico is bringing researchers and scholars together as part of an effort to address some of New Mexico's most pressing issues.

The school said Monday that the focus of the Grand Challenges initiative will include substance abuse, aging and water resources.

The challenges were selected from 14 proposals, representing 160 faculty and staff from over 60 departments across the university.

University President Garnett Stokes says each one represents a unique opportunity to serve New Mexico. She says the issues require a collaborative approach to research and scholarship that spans fields of study as well as generations, cultures and perspectives.

More than 20 other public research institutions have similar initiatives aimed at using their research power to benefit the societal and economic health of their communities.

330 Migrants Apprehended At Remote US Border Post - Associated Press

Another large group of migrants are in custody after showing up at a remote border crossing in southwestern New Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the 330 Central Americans were apprehended early Monday at the Antelope Wells port of entry, 122 miles west of El Paso, Texas.

This marks the second large group to be arrested near the port in less than a week. On Friday, agents arrested 290 Central Americans who entered the country illegally.

The latest group arrived as President Donald Trump was preparing to hold a rally in El Paso as the fight over border security and immigration policy looms.

In all, CBP said 28 groups of more than 100 people have been apprehended in the area since Oct. 1. The groups have included families and unaccompanied juveniles.