Pencils down, turn in your letters: BernCo to pick Senate replacement

Bernalillo County commissioners now have a list of 19 applicants to choose from to fill long-time legislator Cisco McSorley’s former Senate seat. The list included doctors, lawyers, political and community activists as well as two former congressional candidates from the 2018 election. The Albuquerque Democrat resigned earlier this week after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed him as director of the state’s Probation and Parole Division, under the state’s Department of Corrections. McSorley served in the state Legislature since 1984, first as a representative, then as a senator. Update:The Bernalillo County Commission appointed Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

Reproductive rights to come up this legislative session

This week in the Legislature may see some debate regarding abortions and whether or not doctors should have a role in family discussions. Earlier this month, Gov. Susana Martinez outlined her legislative priorities in her State of the State address. In addition to  presenting her six-point-plan to bolster the state’s economy, she also called for legislators to tackle certain issues during the 30-day legislative session. She encouraged them to pass bills related to education reform and expanded criminal penalties. Legislators have introduced a handful of bills related to abortion, but she skirted the issue in her speech.

Albuquerque protesters rally around a suite of issues, from women’s rights and DACA to economic justice

On Sunday morning, with snow in the Sandias and temperatures in the 30s, thousands of people converged on Civic Plaza in Albuquerque for the Women’s March. The crowd may have been smaller than in January 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, but it was no less defiant of the president’s policies. Speakers called out in support of the #MeToo movement and equality for LGBTQ communities. They rallied to fight racism and economic inequality and reaffirmed the rights of Indigenous women. Many spoke about the pervasive nationwide fear that DREAMers, who had been protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, will be deported.

Senate committee tables ‘20-week’ abortion ban

After a long committee meeting and often-times emotional testimony from the public on a controversial bill to ban abortions on pregnancies of 20 or more weeks of gestation, lawmakers on the Senate Public Affairs Committee quickly tabled the legislation on a party line vote. Neither the committee chair nor vice chair—Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino or Bill O’Neill, both Democrats from Albuquerque—nor any of the three Republican members actually spoke about the issue during debate. And the three remaining Democrats—Sens. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, Liz Stefanics of Santa Fe and Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces—kept their comments on the issue succinct before joining their other Democratic colleagues to table the bill.

Advocacy group turns in 10,000 signatures for sick leave initiative

A coalition advocating for paid sick leave in Albuquerque announced Monday that they reached the halfway point of their self-imposed petition goal. Healthy Workforce ABQ, a group comprised of a number of left-leaning organizations, delivered more than 10,000 petition signatures to get a initiative asking voters to approve mandated paid sick leave in the workplace on Albuquerque ballots in November. Adriann Barboa, a field director for Strong Families New Mexico, is helping with the sick leave campaign and told NM Political Report the goal is to get twice as many signatures as required by the city in case some are disqualified. “We want to get more than double so that we have for sure the solid number we need and that’s not a question,” Barboa said. Ballot initiatives require a minimum of a little more than 14,000 valid signatures, but the city often deems signatures unqualified if the signer is not registered to vote in the area or their addresses are written down incorrectly.

Rhetoric, activism heat up in anticipation of abortion measures

For Sara and Josue Maldonado, the question of whether abortion access should be curtailed in New Mexico boils down to starkly defined principles: Human life begins at conception and should be protected without exceptions. “When I had my baby in September, I’d hold her in my arms and think, ‘She’s a person,’” said Sara, who adds she used to call herself pro-choice. “In my opinion, it’s not just a woman’s body. It’s also the body of the living being who’s inside her.”

Josue chimed in, saying that he believes public funding for Planned Parenthood should be cut and that contraception is harmful to women’s health. (Medical research indicates that hormonal birth control health risks are complex; it may increase risk of breast cancer for some women while also lowering risk for other cancers and health conditions.)

The Maldonados were among an estimated 200 people assembled yesterday in the Roundhouse rotunda as Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, presided over a lineup of speakers.