Next month marks the beginning of Gov. Susana Martinez’s last year in office. This year, though, was peppered with lawsuits against either Martinez’s office or state departments under her appointees. At least two of the three major suits will spill over to 2018, bookending Martinez’s tenure as governor. See all of our year-end stories
A lawsuit against the New Mexico Public Education Department for allegedly underfunding the state’s schools received significant media attention in 2017. The case goes back several years and consolidated three similar cases.
We’ve told you about some of the most important and most popular stories of 2017. But we also have some personal favorites: stories that might not have rocked the site’s analytics or made waves among policymakers, but stories we liked reporting or writing. See all of our year-end stories
Laura’s favorite stories
Hands down, my favorite stories are the ones that involve wandering around outside. These include one about the Refugee Wilderness Explorers Summer Camp, a summer program run by New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and Catholic Charities’ Refugee Mentoring Program, and a visit to the Pueblo of Santa Ana to learn about restoration and wildlife projects. Another one is a story reported this spring about areas in the Jemez Mountains burned by Las Conchas and the Dome Fire.
There’s no doubt the Albuquerque mayoral election stole headlines at NM Political Report this year. The list of candidates was long and at least one candidate got a significant head start raising money. By April, 15 candidates announced their intention to run for mayor. In October, eight candidates faced off, and the top two would head to a one-on-one runoff election, unless one candidate received 50 percent of the vote. None did, and State Auditor Tim Keller faced off against Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis in the runoff election.
Perceived political interference in the classroom made headlines this year, prompting harsh public reaction. In March, the Santa Fe Reporter’s Matt Grubs reported the head of the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) ignored a unanimous recommendation by a panel of math and science experts to implement the Next Generation Science Standards for four years. See all of our year-end stories
As Grubs wrote:
The sensitive parts of the standards are a tiny but politically charged sliver: human-caused climate change and the theory of evolution. Those have been the sticking points for NGSS adoption in other states that, like New Mexico, lean heavily on revenues from extractive industries. And they were the only academic topics raised by senators and representatives who questioned the new standards this spring in the Capitol.
Gov. Susana Martinez saw ten bills she vetoed instead become law this year. Not because of any legislative action, but instead because a court ruled she failed to follow the state constitution when vetoing the bills. See all the top stories here. During the legislative session, Martinez vetoed many bills, but Democrats in the Legislature felt ten were improperly vetoed. The Legislature voted to sue Martinez over those ten, saying she failed to explain why she vetoed the bills, violating the state constitution.
About 739,000 acres of public lands in New Mexico became a big news story this year. At the end of April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a number of national monument designations, including two in New Mexico, made under the Antiquities Act since 1996. See all of our year-end stories
The two New Mexico monuments were the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument near Taos and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces
The executive order was a gift to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who had been seeking a way to diminish protections of two monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. At the signing ceremony for the order, Trump recognized Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and in particular, Hatch. “Believe me, he’s tough.
As we did in each of the past two years, NM Political Report counted down the ten biggest stories of the year. We individually ranked what the top-ten stories and we averaged them out for our final list. Today, we will count down numbers 10 through 6. This afternoon, we will post number five, then numbers four and three on Wednesday, number two on Thursday and our top story of the year on Friday. See all of our year-end stories
10: Special Session for Budget
For the second year in a row, the state Legislature and the governor were unable to agree on a budget—and a host of other things—and went to a special session to address the problems.
This time, the special session took place in May, with the governor calling for tax reform to pass alongside a budget.