‘He Will Not Divide Us’ comes to ABQ

One week after the Museum of Moving Image in New York City shut down the performance art piece “He Will Not Divide Us”, the artists behind the infamous art installation project resurrected it in an unlikely setting—downtown Albuquerque. The project, now located on 7th Street in downtown Albuquerque outside the El Rey Theater, consists of a camera set on a wall streamed on the Internet under big black, all-caps words “He Will Not Divide Us.” The project is by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. The art collective’s most famous member, film actor Shia LaBeouf, made headlines when the project kicked off the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The project encourages members of the public to say, “He will not divide us” in front of the livestreamed camera at any time. The three artists intend for the livestream 24 hours a day to last through Trump’s presidency.

Sponsor seeking changes to whistleblower law says he’ll change bill

Recently-retired law enforcement officer Jeremy Romero said he’s taking it easy before he plans to run for sheriff of Guadalupe County, where he grew up. For Romero, nothing about the past few years has been easy, including his road to retirement and the decision to run for public office. Unable to walk and bound to a wheelchair, Romero openly spoke about how his quest to hold  fellow public employees accountable for their actions landed him where he is today. “For having integrity and doing the right thing, it cost me long term, [and] it cost me my legs,” Romero said. As an officer with the New Mexico State Police, Romero reported a fellow officer to his superiors for improper behavior.

Effort to require contraceptive coverage clears committee

A bill aimed at requiring health insurance providers to include contraception coverage passed its first committee Wednesday morning. The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the measure 5-1. Rep. Gail Armstrong, R-Magdalena, said she voted against the measure for only out of concern for insurance companies and any compliance issues they may have. Three lobbyists for health insurance companies opposed the bill during public comment, citing provisions that would allow individuals to get 12 months worth of contraception at once and allowing over-the-counter contraception like condoms being made available through health insurance. Lobbyist Brent Moore, one of the three lobbyists, addressed head on that two of the three were men.

‘Aid in dying’ bill advances after emotional hearing

Emotional and personal stories filled a legislative hearing room Friday morning before lawmakers voted on party lines to pass a bill to allow aid in dying. The House Health and Human Services Committee voted in favor of HB 171, which would allow terminally ill patients the choice to end their own lives through a lethal dose of prescribed medication. Before the vote, several lawmakers were in tears when discussing personal stories about the issue. Committee Chair Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, told the committee she cared for four friends and family members as they approached death. Armstrong recounted sleeping at the foot of her friend’s bed, waking every few hours to administer pain medication.

Lawmakers push for ‘aid in dying’ in NM

Michael McCamley liked to plan. It was part of his job in the U.S. Army and according to his son, state Rep. Bill McCamley of Dona Ana County, that instinct to plan for the unexpected extended to family matters, including death. In 2010, doctors diagnosed the retired lieutenant colonel with a rare, terminal disease similar to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. After discussing it with his family, the elder McCamley decided to fill out an advance directive stating that he was not to be kept alive artificially if and when that time came. “Everyone knew what the situation was and what his decision was,” Rep. McCamley said.

Poll shows New Mexicans favor some tax increases to balance budget

A new poll finds that a majority of registered voters in New Mexico support raising taxes to make up for the state’s budget shortfalls. According to the poll, commissioned by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, registered voters do not support reducing public education funds in order to fix the state’s budget. The Center’s Executive Director Edward Tabet-Cubero said in a statement New Mexico lawmakers should take note of the poll results. “This survey demonstrates strong public opinion that the solution to this crisis should not come in the form of more cuts,” Tabet-Cubero said. The poll was conducted by Research and Polling in Albuquerque.

Cannabis patients, producers push for expansion of program

Eight years ago, Sean Gabaldon didn’t think too much about cancer. As a high school basketball coach he strived to be an example of health to the boys on his team. One day he went to urgent care because his body felt as if he had “done a bunch of sit ups.” After a series of scans that day, doctors diagnosed Gabaldon with stage-four Burkitt lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. Gabaldon never went back to work as a teacher and coach after that initial diagnosis. “It moved so quick, I literally went home for the weekend and never came back,” Gabaldon said.

[PHOTOS] Albuquerque Women’s March

An estimated 6,000 people showed up in Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza Saturday to join in a nationwide women’s march against newly sworn-in President Donald Trump. Below, NM Political Report caught up with a few of the protestors. Anna, pictured right: “I’m here because I don’t like the new president. I’m living here temporarily, but I still think that I can’t not protest again him. There are so many things I dislike about him.

Gas tax increase posed as a solution to failing roads

Moderately low gas prices and an increasingly dire budget situation in the state has lawmakers eyeing new sources for revenue. Gov. Susana Martinez has adamantly opposed any new or increased taxes, but some lawmakers are looking to grab several more cents from drivers at the gas pump. At least two state senators and one Albuquerque city councilor have introduced legislation to increase gas taxes to help pay for road repairs and infrastructure. The move appears to be a trend in several other states. New Mexico state Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is considered one of the most fiscally conservative Democrats in Santa Fe.

Pomp, circumstance and State of the State in photos

As is often the case, the first day of the 2017 legislative session began with lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters catching up and getting their bearings straight. The first day began with lawmakers settling into their new seating assignments and making new leadership official. Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, was elected Speaker of the House, while Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, was elected by the Democratic caucus to serve as the Majority Floor Leader.  

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