Matthew Reichbach is the editor of the NM Political Report. The former founder and editor of the NM Telegram, Matthew was also a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and one of the original hires at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation and formerly published, “The Morning Word,” a daily political news summary for NM Telegram and the Santa Fe Reporter.
Matthew has appeared as a panelist for the Society of Professional Journalists’ New Mexico Chapter’s panel on covering New Mexico politics and the legislature.
A native New Mexican from Rio Rancho, Matthew’s family has been in New Mexico since the 1600s.
The U.S. Department of Defense listed military construction projects from across the world that could lose funding under a national emergency declaration by President Donald Trump. Included among those are projects at military facilities in New Mexico. Trump’s national emergency declaration would draw funds from the DOD to construct a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Both the U.S. House and Senate—led by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall—voted to disapprove Trump’s national emergency declaration. Trump vetoed Congress’ effort.
With a larger majority in the House this year, Democrats passed a number of changes to the state’s voting system as part of the flood of legislation sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. Some had passed only to be vetoed by former Gov. Susana Martinez, while conservative Democrats killed other efforts before reaching the governor’s desk. The bills included some progressive priorities, including expanding disclosure of campaign finance information and expanding automatic voter registrations. Passed
Early & Auto Voter Registration (SB 672)
In the past, conservative Democrats blocked the expansion of automatic voter registration and same-day voting registration. Once Lujan Grisham signs the bill, as she is expected to do, beginning in 2021, New Mexico voters will be able to register to vote or update their registration at polling locations when voting.
A recent poll of New Mexicans showed a large majority adults in the state believe that opioid addiction is both a problem in the state and nationwide. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by Voices for Non-Opioid Choices in consultation with the National Association of County & City Health Officials, took place shortly ahead of the 2018 elections. It showed that 77 percent believe opioid addiction is a problem in the state, while 83 percent said it is a problem in the United States at large. Problems with opioid addiction and abuse in New Mexico is nothing new. For years, the state led the country in multi-generational heroin problems.
Wayne Lindstrom, the director of the Behavioral Health Services Division at the New Mexico Human Services Department, said that New Mexico is improving in rankings when it comes to opioid abuse.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is leading the bipartisan effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. The New Mexico senator says the president overstepped his constitutional powers. Udall and Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins announced the legislation to block Trump’s national emergency declaration. In early February, Trump declared a national emergency to divert billions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense to construct a border wall. In a floor speech Thursday, Udall positioned the bill as not about the border wall, but about the powers that Congress holds over the disbursement of money.
New Mexico is one of 16 states that gave Donald Trump an approval rating of below 40 percent in 2018 according to the most recent poll by Gallup. The nationwide poll, conducted throughout 2018 as part of Gallup’s tracking poll, found that just 38 percent of New Mexico voters approved of Trump’s job performance as president, compared to 55 percent who disapproved. The numbers were actually a slight improvement from 2017, when Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico stood at 25 percent, compared to 59 percent disapproval. Nationwide, West Virginia gave Trump his highest approval ratings in 2018, at 62 percent. His lowest approval rating was Hawaii, at just 26 percent.
The state of New Mexico will join a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the president’s declaration of a national emergency to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. California announced last week that it would sue the federal government. And California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on the ABC Sunday morning talk show “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that New Mexico and five other states would join California in the lawsuit against the Trump administration. Update: In all, 16 states, including New Mexico, filed suit. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office did not say exactly which states were involved, but confirmed the lawsuit would be filed.
Dual efforts to enact a Medicaid Buy-In program in New Mexico passed their first challenges this week in the Legislature. Thursday night, the Senate Public Affairs Committee passed its version of the legislation, sponsored by Albuquerque Democratic Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino. And hours later on Friday morning, the House Health and Human Services committee approved a bill to allow some New Mexicans to pay premiums for a health care plan that taps into the existing framework of Medicaid. The two bills mirror each other. Supporters say with a Medicaid Buy-In system, the state will save money on administrative efforts, since Medicaid is an already-built system, while expanding insurance coverage.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday that she withdrew most of New Mexico’s National Guard troops from the border. Troops in Hidalgo County and neighboring, however, will remain in place. She also temporarily deployed six New Mexico State Police officers to Hidalgo County to assist local law enforcement agencies. “I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “However, I recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorstep.”
A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham said that between 11 and 15 National Guard troops will remain deployed, out of 118 before her order.
A bill to allow voters to register on the same day they vote cleared its first House committee Wednesday. The House, State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee advanced the proposal on a party-line vote. The bill aims to let voters register or update their voter registration during early voting or on Election Day, and vote on the same day. Currently, voters must register four weeks before the election to be eligible to vote. One of the bill’s Democratic co-sponsors, Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque, said the legislation “is the ultimate access bill to allow voters to access the electoral process as openly as possible.”
The bill would allow new voters to register on Election Day and those already registered to change their address.
The process is taking longer than Democrats would hope, but bills to expand voting rights are moving through the state legislature. Democrats advanced two voting bills—one, to automatically restore voting rights to felons and another to expand automatic voter registration—out of the House Local Government, Elections and Land Grants Committee on party-line votes Friday. But a bill to allow same-day voter registration failed to come up for a vote, with a visibly frustrated committee chair saying they’ll meet again on Saturday. The debate on the bill to allow felons to vote began Wednesday, including substantial public comment. Felon enfranchisement
In its current form, HB 57 would remove a felony conviction from the list of reasons why the Secretary of State could cancel a voter’s registration.