New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham officially announced on Wednesday that she will call the state Legislature into a special session next week to approve new legislative, congressional and Public Education Commission districts. In addition to redistricting, lawmakers will also be called to appropriate federal COVID-19 relief funds.
In a statement on Wednesday, Lujan Grisham said she is confident the Legislature will work collaboratively and diligently to finalize new district maps so that all New Mexicans are fairly represented.
“A fundamental part of our American democracy is ensuring that all voters are represented, and the redistricting effort will make sure that the right of all New Mexicans to vote is complemented by fair representation through their elected officials,” Lujan Grisham said. “I look forward to a productive and collegial session and know lawmakers and legislative leadership will as always carry out the people’s business thoughtfully and respectfully, in a way that honors this important work.”
Updating district maps is a process that takes place every ten years, on the heels of the federal census. This year, thanks to a new law, the redistricting process began with a citizen redistricting committee that approved several different recommendations for the Legislature to consider. But, the Legislature is not required to accept any of those recommendations. In the past two redistricting sessions, the approval of new districts were ultimately decided by the courts after the governor’s office and lawmakers could not come to an agreement on the maps.
The Legislature’s task of spending federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) during the special session stems from a recent New Mexico Supreme Court decision that Lujan Grisham cannot legally appropriate the money. During the last regular legislative session, lawmakers proposed appropriating the more than $1 billion in federal relief money, but that effort was vetoed by the governor. The governor’s office argued that it was not the job of the Legislature to spend the money but instead the governor’s role. The state supreme court’s decision put the remaining $1.1 billion back in the hands of legislators. In her statement on Wednesday, Lujan Grisham, citing her “incredibly productive” working relationship with the Legislature, said she’s confident that state lawmakers will make sure the money goes to New Mexicans in an appropriate manner.
“We have achieved a lot together, and we have a lot more to do,” Lujan Grisham said. “I am sure that lawmakers will meet this moment and deliver this massively important federal funding to New Mexicans in a strategic and meaningful way.”
The special session will begin at noon on Monday, Dec. 6 and will go until both the House and Senate send their final proposals to the governor.