March 30, 2017

Martinez vetoes include bill designed to combat institutionalized racism in state government

Gov. Susana Martinez during the 2016 State of the State Address. Photo Credit: Andy Lyman.

Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed several bills and signed three others Thursday.

One of the bills she vetoed was designed to address institutional racism in state government. In her signing message, Martinez said the bill would put too much of a burden on state agencies “without any assurance that the bill would actually identify or reduce institutionalized racism in the workplace.”

The bill sought to evaluate anti-institutional racism policies for state agencies, including in hiring, promotion and retention.

Martinez objected to  the bill’s attempt to create a statewide evaluation of race and gender gaps in these same areas.

Martinez also attacked the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Linda Lopez, saying Lopez “blocked several Hispanics from serving in the highest levels of state governance by refusing to hold confirmation hearings for Regents.”

Lopez, like Martinez, is Hispanic. She also chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which holds confirmation hearings for many of the governor’s appointees.

“Governor Martinez has shown a complete disregard for one of our most cherished values our diversity,” Lopez said in a statement. “Her veto tonight means New Mexicans of various rich cultural identities will continue to feel unwelcome and overlooked in the offices of state government. As the leader of the first minority-majority state, the Governor ought to be ashamed of the signal that she has sent to people of color who work to better the lives of our families through service in state government.”

Rep. Javier Martinez, like Lopez a Democrat from Albuquerque, responded Friday morning.

“This veto is misguided and unfortunate. Institutional racism is an unfortunate and dangerous fact of life for New Mexicans across our state,” Martinez said. “When communities of color continue to lag behind in economic, educational and social well-being, it is clear that we must be intentional about reforming how our institutions operate. The Governor has squandered an opportunity to address institutional barriers to ending cycles of generational poverty.”

Martinez has clashed with senators, accusing them of not  confirming some of her  top appointees.

Martinez also vetoed a bill that would have expanded interventions for nonviolent offenders diagnosed with behavioral health issues. The bill’s supporters said it would cut down on recidivism and so save the state money on incarceration.

The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

Martinez said the Human Services Department’s Behavioral Health Services Division “already provides the types of services contemplated by [the bill] to many justice-involved adults with serious mental illness or a substance abuse disorder.”

She also said it would “place an unfunded mandate on the BHSD.”

Martinez signed bills related to bench warrant jurisdiction, horse race testing and punishments for cheating at horse racing and a bill providing a one-time commitment to match federal funds for  the drinking water state revolving fund.

The governor also vetoed  a bill to require the Office of the State Engineer to put public notifications on the websites for six months. Martinez said said because the office already does this, it did not need to be required by law.

Update: Added a quote from Sen. Linda Lopez.

Update 2: Added a quote from Rep. Javier Martinez