Proponents of early ed measure struggle to secure House votes

Supporters of a popular idea among Democrats — a proposed constitutional amendment that would take between $153 million and $163 million a year in the first three years from the state’s land grant endowment to expand early childhood education — are having a difficult time mustering the votes to get it through the state House of Representatives. House Joint Resolution 1 has been waiting all week to get a floor vote. Word got out Friday that the resolution once again would not be heard, even though it was the top item on the House calendar. The measure would amend the state constitution to draw less than 1 percent a year from the endowment to pay for early childhood education. The sponsors of the proposal, Democratic Reps.

Bill would stop NM National Guard from aiding in ICE immigration actions

One state legislator acted quickly after news that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly authored a draft memo calling to mobilize National Guard troops in several states, including New Mexico, to apprehend those in the country illegally. State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, introduced legislation that would keep New Mexico National Guard troops from conducting immigration operations. Related: Reported plan to use National Guard to apprehend immigrants included NM

“In New Mexico, we will not order our dedicated National Guard members, many of whom would be asked to deport their neighbors and possibly relatives, to participate in ripping families apart and terrorizing our immigrant communities,” McCamley said in a statement. “I hope and trust that our governor would support this legislation that protects New Mexicans from the divisive and hateful policies of the current presidential administration.”

Related: Bill would stop NM National Guard from aiding in ICE immigration actions

The Catholic Church in the state denounced the idea of using National Guard troops to apprehend those in the country without documents. From the AP:
Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Friday the Roman Catholic Church in the nation’s most Hispanic state would strongly oppose any effort to use National Guard troops to find and deport immigrants.

Early childhood education bill faces uphill climb

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would take about $112 million a year from the state’s land grant endowment to pay for early childhood education say a new study shows that the need for such programs actually exceeds $400 million annually. “This is an alarm,” Allen Sánchez, president of CHI St. Joseph’s Children, said Tuesday of the report commissioned by his organization. Sánchez is among the most vocal supporters of House Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by Democratic state Reps. Antonio “Moe” Maestes and Javier Martinez, both of Albuquerque.

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.

Some in NM say Pope’s abortion forgiveness extension needs more work

An announcement from Pope Francis declaring that all Catholic priests can continue to forgive women who have had abortions seems to be more symbolic and less canonical—at least in the United States. In an apostolic letter, or a formal decree, this week, Francis called on Catholic priests to continue forgiving women who have abortions after the Year of Mercy ended. “There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father,” Francis wrote. In New Mexico, a state with a heavily Catholic population, some welcomed the developments. But Catholics and other religious people who support abortion rights said the Church should further reform its stance on abortion rights.

Group behind ‘New Mexico Truth’ parody ads faces ethics complaint

An ethics complaint from a state representative says a Catholic organization should have to register as a lobbying group because of an advertising campaign that parodies the New Mexico Tourism Department’s “New Mexico True” campaign. The complaint filed late last month by State Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, with the Secretary of State’s office says that the “New Mexico Truth” campaign by CHI St. Joseph’s Children is an attempt to lobby legislators to allow voters to decide on tapping into the state’s permanent fund to increase early education funding. CHI St. Joseph’s supports increased funding for early childhood education.

Food tax opponents vow it ‘will stay dead’

There are few proposals in New Mexico that will draw quicker opposition than reimposing the food tax. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, introduced such a proposal earlier this week and opponents mobilized quickly. The think tank Think New Mexico made sure the media and their supporters knew about the bill. “Unbelievably, on the final day for bill introductions, Senate Bill 281 was introduced to reimpose the food tax on New Mexico families,” the think tank said in an email to supporters. Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said they were ready if the idea gains traction this year, which he doesn’t expect.

Driver’s license bill moves forward after large amendment

After a marathon hearing, the Senate Public Affairs Committee advanced a driver’s license bill that supporters hope will finally end the problem the state has been facing for years. It didn’t come without controversy, in the form of an extensive amendment to the bill that passed the House, HB 99, to make it essentially a Senate bill, SB 256. It was not a committee substitute, which would require it to go back through committees in the House. But with an amendment, if it were to pass the Senate, then the House and Senate could have a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions. The SPAC amendment passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans against.

Republican driver’s license bill through first committee hearing

The House Regulatory and Public Affairs passed, along party lines, a Republican driver’s license bill Thursday evening. Sponsors of HB 99, Reps. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch and Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, presented the bill and told the panel that this was their attempt at compromising on the multiple-yearlong issue of whether or not to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Nuñez said since 2010 he’s tried to repeal the state law that allows a person to get a driver’s license without legal documentation of citizenship. “Since then we made a lot of compromises,” Nuñez said.

Early childhood campaign mimics ‘New Mexico True’ campaign

A New Mexico community health group has launched a campaign this week to draw public attention to poverty and early childhood well being, using a parody of a New Mexico tourism campaign. Catholic Health Initiatives St. Joseph’s Children, a group that has long been vocal on investing more state money into early childhood education, launched their “New Mexico Truth” campaign earlier this week. The campaign’s website and radio use imagery and graphics nearly identical to the New Mexico True campaign from the state’s tourism department. St.