Pro- and anti-abortion rights groups spend thousands on local races

In a campaign season dominated by Donald Trump’s comments on groping women and several allegations against him of doing so, media attention on traditionally hot-button electoral issues like abortion access has been relegated to the side. But that doesn’t mean advocates aren’t using the issue of abortion to influence elections this year. On the local level, two political action committees on opposing sides of abortion rights are injecting thousands of dollars to influence down-ballot races. Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico, for example, raised $10,000 to target four hotly contested state legislative races that could help decide which party controls the state House of Representatives and state Senate. The Right to Life Committee of New Mexico PAC, on the other hand, has spent more than $4,500 in the primaries and general election to encourage its base, which opposes abortion rights, to vote in a year that’s expected to be an uphill climb for Republicans.

Cig taxes, lottery scholarship and more: Pre-filed legislation from Senate

The legislative session starts today, but already Legislators have introduced hundreds of bills, memorials and joint resolutions. The Senate has over 150 such pieces of legislation. NM Political Report took a look at the pre-filed legislation two weeks ago. Now, we will look at the rest of the legislation introduced between then and the end of pre-filing on Friday. Yesterday, we took a look at the pre-filed legislation from the House.

Lawmakers protect title loan firms while borrowers pay sky-high interest rates

How millions in campaign contributions help block laws to crack down on lending abuses

After years of financial ups and downs, Gloria Whitaker needed some quick cash to help keep a roof over her head. So she and her son, Devon, went to a TitleBucks store in Las Vegas and took out a $2,000 loan, pledging his gold 2002 Ford F-150 truck as collateral. Whitaker, 66, said nobody verified she, or her jobless son, could repay the loan, which carried interest of 121.545 percent. When she paid off the loan, she said, the company didn’t give back the title to the truck. Instead, employees talked her into borrowing $2,000 more, which plunged the family deeper into debt, she said. Whitaker knows that was a mistake, but also feels misled by aggressive — and legally dubious — lending tactics.

Conservation group touts success while releasing scorecard

Conservation Voters New Mexico released the group’s annual conservation scorecard that rates legislators on how they voted on select conservation bills. While releasing the card, the group noted that it has successfully fought back what it calls anti-conservation legislation for 11 years in a row—but the new House Republican majority made it a more difficult fight. “We knew that we were in for a brutal fight to hold back the anti-conservation legislation,” executive director Demis Foster said on the conference call announcing the results. Foster said that a new trend showed more legislators than ever—37—earned 100 percent scores while more legislators than ever —nine—earned a 0 percent score. Senate scores higher than House

Members of the Senate received higher scores from CVNM than the House.

NM GOP chair highlights four Senate targets

Republican Party of New Mexico chair Debbie Maestas outlined four Democratic targets in the party’s quest to take control of the state Senate. Included is the largest thorn in the side of Gov. Susana Martinez, herself a Republican, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen. The Roswell Daily Record reported on comments Maestas made to the Chaves County Republican Women. Maestas said Republicans are targeting the seats of Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, Sen. John Sapien of Corrales, Sen. William Soules of Las Cruces and Sen. Michael Sanchez of Belen. Sapien has already received a challenger, Diego Espinoza.

Sanchez outlines Dem opposition to Martinez priorities

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said that Susana Martinez needs to admit her mistakes and outlined the Martinez initiatives that Senate Democrats would oppose. Sanchez made his remarks in the Senate Democratic response to Martinez’s State of the State Address. See New Mexico Political Report’s report on the State of the State address here. “It really takes courage to admit that you’re wrong,” Sanchez said. “The governor needs to that she’s wrong on education and right-to-work.