Bill repealing pre-Roe anti-abortion law clears first Senate hurdle

The bill to repeal a currently unenforceable ban on abortion in New Mexico passed the Senate Public Affairs Committee 4-2 along party lines Saturday afternoon and now advances to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, and Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, sponsored the bill, which would repeal a 1969 state law which made both performing and receiving an abortion fourth-degree felonies, except with special permissions. The law is currently unenforceable because of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme court decision which federally recognized the right to have an abortion. The committee hearing lasted just over two hours, and the room was filled to the brim and required overflow seating. Supporters and opponents of HB 51 were ushered in through separate doors and asked to keep public comment civil and short.

With the fate of legal cannabis unclear, decriminalization back on the table

One of the biggest unanswered questions during this year’s legislative session is whether New Mexico will become the next state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Legal cannabis is dependent on a handful of hold-outs in the state Senate, but one bill that would ease the state’s laws on cannabis, years in the making and sponsored by one of those hold-outs, cleared its first committee Tuesday. The Senate Public Affairs Committee passed Senate Bill 323 on a 5-1 vote Tuesday evening. Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, sponsored similar legislation to replace criminal charges with fines for possessing relatively small amounts of cannabis since 2015. With each attempt, the proposal has gained more support in the Legislature.

Auto franchise bill passes first committee

A bill that would allow some car manufacturers to bypass local auto dealers and sell directly to consumers in New Mexico, passed its first committee Thursday afternoon. The Senate Public Affairs Committee approved Senate Bill 243 along party lines, with only Democratic members voting to advance the proposal. The bill would allow companies like electric car manufacturer Tesla to open service centers and sales showrooms in the state. Current law mandates that vehicle manufacturers must sell through local, franchised dealers. The bill narrowly changes the state franchise law, and would only allow companies that do not have a franchise business model to sell in the state.

Lawmakers try to help state boost cell service

State legislators have proposed a bill that would streamline the installation of small cellular facilities in public rights of way, which they say will accelerate internet speeds and enhance the state’s broadband capacity. The proposal, intended to prepare New Mexico for the arrival of 5G networks, would boost a signal that the state — in a climate where connectivity is essential for economic development — is open for more business, said Sen. Candace Gould, R-Albuquerque. “We’re just at a place where we need to upgrade,” said Gould, a co-sponsor of the measure. The proposed Wireless Consumer Advanced Infrastructure Investment Act, with identical bills filed in both chambers of the Legislature, could spur some backlash in a capital city where a handful of residents are still simmering after Mayor Javier Gonzales last month issued an emergency proclamation that allowed Verizon to install temporary telecommunication facilities on city structures. The state legislation would appear aimed at heading off the need for such a proclamation, which was lambasted by a vocal cadre of Santa Fe residents who believe radio frequencies are dangerous.

Sponsor of The Pit asked AD to donate to state senate candidate

The owners of WisePies, the company that has the naming rights to the legendary University of New Mexico basketball arena known to most as The Pit, solicited political donations from the university’s athletic director. NM Fishbowl, a news website focusing on UNM, first reported on the news earlier this week. WisePies, a pizza chain located primarily in the Albuquerque area, owns the naming rights to The Pit. The arena is officially called WisePies Arena aka The Pit. According to the NM Fishbowl story, a spokesperson for WisePies asked UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs if he and his wife would co-host a campaign fundraiser for Candace Gould, a Republican then running for state Senate.