Legislature

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New Mexico is one of the fastest-warming states in the country, according to a 2016 report issued by the Union Of Concerned Scientists. In this year’s legislative session several bills addressing climate change were introduced by lawmakers. Not all of the measures were rejected. They didn’t all pass, either.  KUNM caught up with environmental reporter Laura Paskus from New Mexico PBS about the urgency of climate change problems in our state and how local elected officials are responding .

New Mexico PBS

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivered the annual State of the State address on Jan. 26, 2021, from the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. This speech was pre-recorded due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We annotate the transcript with our Your N.M. Government media partners New Mexico PBS and The Santa Fe Reporter, as well as New Mexico Political Report and the Farmington Daily Times. Find that here along with the video of her speech. 

Margaret Wright

On Saturday, Nov. 7, just after the presidential race was called for Biden, hundreds turned up on the steps of the state’s capital for a rally against election results--though there has not yet been evidence of fraud. And a quick content warning: This story contains antagonism based in transphobia.  

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

 

Every day for over a week, masses of people in Albuquerque have showed up in public to condemn state violence against black people and call for systemic change. Though national narratives have characterized Black Lives Matter protests as volatile and prone to violence, Albuquerque saw thousands of people all week peacefully marching, mourning individuals killed by police, celebrating black culture and speaking out. The events this weekend had different organizers and drew different crowds. City administration made it harder to get to many of them, blocking access to most of the Downtown area with concrete barricades starting Friday.

Senior Airman Nathan Maysonet / Laughlin Air Force Base

New Mexico has a gun death rate higher than the national average, and two-thirds of those deaths are suicides. The Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act being heard this legislative session is controversial. Opponents say this bill is a form of gun control and violates the U.S. Constitution, but its supporters say it's a necessary step in mental health care.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

Last year’s State Ethics Commission Act allowed New Mexico to join the 46 states that have similar independent good government panels. The State Ethics Commission has been active since Jan. 1, but adequate funding is still in question.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who released her priorities this week for the upcoming legislative session, is pushing for New Mexico to be next.

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Latino youth are feeling psychological impacts of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, researchers say. A committee of legislators in New Mexico on Wednesday considered how this problem impacts the state and weighed increasing access to Medicaid.

courtesy of Kimberlee Hanson / GBCS

Gordon Bernell Charter School fills a gap in New Mexico’s education system, helping adults in jail or who have previously been incarcerated to build the skills they need to finish high school. The school’s future is uncertain after the state Legislature this year banned schools from claiming Public Education Department funding for students over age 21. Leaders at the school went before lawmakers this week to ask for a stable funding source.

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Hundreds of families in New Mexico are involved in child abuse and neglect cases, but the state says there aren’t enough lawyers they can appoint to represent the kids and parents. A task force met for the first time on Thursday, October 3, to weigh how to make the system work faster and better as the courts make decisions about whether children should stay with their families or in foster care.

May Ortega / KUNM

Even before former Gov. Susana Martinez kicked the legs out from under behavioral health care system six years ago, services in the state were inadequate. Lawmakers met on Thursday, July 25, and wrestled with questions about what a good system should look like and what to do next.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

When the Legislature is not in session in New Mexico, lawmakers still meet and hold hearings about things like education funding, solitary confinement, green energy jobs and more. When these off-session meetings happen in Santa Fe, they’re live-streamed, and anyone around the state can tune in. But if they’re held anywhere else in New Mexico, the public’s out of luck. That might be changing.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

At night, for long stretches of road on large busy streets and residential ones, it’s completely dark in Southeast Albuquerque’s International District. Residents say not having enough streetlights is an urgent problem, because it leads to hotspots of crime and more vehicles hitting pedestrians. Politicians failed to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for new lights in the area, leaving neighborhoods in the dark.

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For decades, legislators have repeatedly fumbled the creation of an ethics commission to stop government corruption. But voters demanded one overwhelmingly in November, and now it’s on some of the very people the commission would police—state lawmakers—to decide what it can and can’t do. They’re considering two bills this year: one where people can see what the commission’s up to and one where it’s mostly secret.

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New Mexico legislators on Wednesday debated eliminating the state’s sales tax on so-called feminine hygiene products, like tampons and pads. Countries around the world have reduced or eliminated these taxes, and at least 10 states in the U.S. have done away with them, too.

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A bill that will allow people with terminal illnesses to get medical help to end their lives made it through a legislative committee Monday.

Gun Control Bills Advance In N.M. Legislature

Jan 25, 2019
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Lawmakers have advanced a package of gun control bills in the state legislature.

 

There are two bills that would expand background checks. Another would keep guns away from people convicted of domestic violence or who have a restraining order against them. And one is meant to prevent suicides.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

In Bernalillo County’s Metro Court, judges hear cases about drunk driving, domestic violence, drugs, traffic tickets, and small civil claims. It’s the busiest court in the state and the only one like it here. Here’s how it works: When someone wants to appeal a decision from Metro Court, they have to present the case again at District Court across the street and get an OK before it heads up to Appeals Court. This election, there’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would free lawmakers up to change this appeals system.

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Most other states around the country have some kind of watchdog agency in place to investigate politicians and other powerful people entrusted with public dollars. But New Mexico doesn’t have anything like that. So would a commission with the power to investigate and field ethics complaints help stop corruption here? The issue will be on ballots in November.

Holloman Air Force Base via CC

New Mexico’s struggled for years with how to handle Real ID and created a two-tiered system where people have an option for an alternative license or identification card. A legal settlement announced on Tuesday, Aug. 21, will force the Motor Vehicle Division to accept more types of documentation for people who opt out of Real ID.

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Horrifying and fatal cases of child abuse and neglect are pervasive in New Mexico. People here are asking the question: How do we stop this? Nationally, evidence is showing that prevention is the key.

After Escape, A Long Road To Recovery

Mar 1, 2018
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Over the years, New Mexico’s resources for human trafficking victims have begun to reach more and more people. But the state still has a long way to go to help survivors.

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This year’s 30-day legislative session wrapped up last week. It was a budget year, but lawmakers also considered legislation to address issues like education and public safety. We'll take a look at what happened this year at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, then we'll step back and spend the rest of the hour looking at programs and organizations around the state that are addressing some of the most persistent problems in our communities – from poverty to a lack of access to health care.

State Budget Boosts Public Health

Feb 15, 2018
New Mexico In Depth

 


Lawmakers passed a $6.3 billion budget Wednesday night. One billion of that will go to behavioral health care and the Department of Health.

 

Health workers would get a raise, and anti-smoking programs would see a multimillion-dollar boost.

Pet Food Fee Measure Advances In Santa Fe

Feb 12, 2018
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Half of the animals that enter shelters in New Mexico end up being euthanized, and lawmakers are getting closer to agreeing on a measure that would charge a fee to pet food companies to help fund spay and neuter services across the state.

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New Mexico has the second-highest recidivism rate in the country, with half of its former inmates landing back behind prison bars within three years. To shrink those numbers, the state House passed a measure that would require jails and prisons to make sure inmates have access to behavioral health services.

Kids In The Roundhouse

Jan 17, 2018
Photo courtesy of Patty Keane / http://www.nmcapitolart.org/pic.aspx?id=330

In New Mexico, the 30 Day legislative session has begun, but what do kids have to do with it? We talked with state senator Bill O’Neill and some of the Wild Friends New Mexico about how kids can be part of the legislative process. Originally broadcast Jan 20, 2018

Andrew Lyman / NM Political Report

Gov. Susana Martinez will give the final State of the State address of her second term on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the start of the legislative session. She’ll likely be framing her legacy as someone who’s been tough on crime.

Potential Changes To Medicaid Draw Criticism

Jun 15, 2017
Sarah Trujillo / KUNM

More than three years after the health care expansion, 43 percent of New Mexico’s total population is signed up for Medicaid. But budgets are tight, and the Human Services Department is trying to figure out how to make it all work. Some of the  proposals presented at a public meeting in Albuquerque were contentious.

Elaine Baumgartel / KUNM

The state Supreme Court decided that there’s still a way for Gov. Susana Martinez and lawmakers to work out their differences during a special session, so it doesn’t have to weigh in right now. The high court canceled a hearing Monday in a case the Legislature brought against the executive about some of her many vetoes. 

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