Congress should reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

In New Mexico, it can be easy to take our public lands and beautiful, unique landscapes for granted. After all, many of us have been hunting, hiking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors our entire lives. These traditions handed down from generation to generation instilled in us an appreciation for the land and our heritage. But on a recent trip to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument I was reminded how lucky I am and how much we stand to lose if we don’t speak up for the land we love and use. As a sportsman and videographer, I’ve been lucky enough to combine two things I’m very passionate about into a career running my own film business.

Why New Mexicans need a higher minimum wage

Hard-working families in our state are drowning. Families should never have to choose between buying healthy groceries and paying their utility bills, but they do. Kids should be focusing on their work instead of their grumbling stomachs during school, but they cannot help it when their hard-working parents can only provide one meal a day. Workers should not have to take out payday loans for exorbitant fees to afford back-to-school supplies for their kids. I’ve heard too many devastating stories about the challenges that New Mexico’s minimum-wage workers face, and I believe that hard-working New Mexicans deserve better.

Expand paid sick leave in Albuquerque

I’m one of the lucky ones. I work for Albuquerque Public Schools and I can take paid time off when I’m sick, need to go to the doctor or to care for a loved one. When my aunt was sick a few years ago, I took time off to be with her. I could pay my bills and pay my respects to an important woman in my life. Paid sick leave let me be by my aunt’s side to care for her, instead of being at work trying to focus on my job while I was really worrying about her.

On Father’s Day and every day, families belong together

As a recent college graduate returning to my home state after four years, I feel grateful to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with my family this summer. We devote time every year to celebrate our parents and all that they do for us because, as Americans, we value family. But this Father’s Day, I cannot help but think about the current immigration policies that are tearing young children away from their moms and dads and ignoring the importance of family. Our family members ground us. They foster our development, they teach us resiliency, they offer immense support, and they shape us as individuals.

Climate change’s impact on our food

There was a time when wading waist-deep into the Rio Grande in the heat of the summer’s blistering solar rays was as common as finding a wild willow tree growing by the river. But as we observe this becoming a distant memory, a new reality is emerging. A farmer friend, on his way to the river with some friends, sent me a few pictures. In it were children enjoying the river, just ankle deep, grateful even for the small reprieve. I thought of Laura Paskus’ article and the fish trying desperately to escape impending death.

DOH should acknowledge cannabis’ legitimate role in addressing opioid abuse

The New Mexico Department of Health is placing political ideology above public health by refusing to recognize the reality that cannabis offers a viable alternative to opioids (“DOH: Reports on cannabis for opioid abuse are ‘poor in quality,’ May 20). This ‘Flat Earth’ position ignores a myriad of data generated from other states, as well as from New Mexico’s own experience with medical cannabis. Population-based studies find that medical cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use, hospitalizations, and mortality. Specifically, data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A pair of studies published earlier this year further finds that medical access is linked to fewer opioid prescriptions. For instance, a longitudinal analysis of opioid prescribing trends among those eligible for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage determined “that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year … when a state instituted any medical cannabis law.” In the second study, “State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing” patterns among all Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care enrollees – a high-risk population for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose.

This acequia life

From the porch near the house, I see Papa in the distance, shovel on his shoulder, his outline as familiar as his presence. Egrets graze along the water that moves in and across the field, alfalfa plants brightening the morning with a welcoming green. The swallows — las golondrinas — fly down and across the water, grasping at food too small for me to see. And Papa walks his field, slower now with age, his boots soaking up water, wearing them as the only lovely he knows. This originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission.

Invest in kids now: It’s morally and fiscally responsible.

New Mexico has a jobs problem. We have high crime. We’re ranked 49th in the country for child well-being, showing how much our kids suffer. Our home was just ranked the second most stressed state in the nation. These are tough issues, but there are solutions.

Do what works to provide student success

Teachers and other educators across the nation say “enough” to chronic underfunding of public education. Here in New Mexico, educators await a positive outcome to the lawsuit against the State for failing to provide public schools the supports necessary for statewide student success. The National Education Association-New Mexico applauds every parent, school district Board of Education and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund who bring the lawsuit. Our state constitution mandates State government to provide a “uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education of all the children of school age.”

New Mexican children possess the same potential, intelligence, and motivation as their peers across the country.  New Mexico has loving and supportive families, committed teachers and supportive communities, but the State is starving its public schools.

Imagine not being counted

If you’ve ever done much research on your family history, you’ve likely run across old census records. These yellowed documents—many hand-written with quill and ink by enumerators who went door-to-door to gather the information—were used to determine how many representatives each state had in Congress. Today’s Census is still incredibly important, but now it is much more high-tech. It involves cutting-edge technology, years of planning, extensive research, and thousands of Census workers across the country. Far from being a thing of the past, the decennial Census count that takes place every ten years determines crucial day-to-day realities for all residents in the U.S. It determines voting and school districts, political representation, and how billions in federal dollars are spent across the country—including $6.2 billion every year in New Mexico alone.