Group sending voter registration forms to increase NM voters

One national progressive group is continuing their efforts to register more New Mexicans to vote. And to do so, they’re sending thousands of voter registration forms to those who are eligible to vote, but have not yet registered. The Voter Participation Center (VPC) has been involved in New Mexico since 2006, and announced last week that they will send voter registration forms to nearly 29,000 unregistered New Mexicans the group has determined are eligible to vote. Page Gardner, the president and founder of the VPC, said that New Mexico is one of the group’s targets because of “crucial elections” including Senate and congressional races and the state’s demographics. New Mexico is the state with the highest percentage of Latinx residents.

State, ABQ suing federal government over changes on policy for asylum seekers

The office of the governor announced Monday the state filed suit against the Trump administration over changes to the federal government’s “safe release” policy that provided aid for asylum seekers. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, says the federal government’s abandonment of the policy is unlawful and has “profoundly impacted” the state of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque, which is also a plaintiff on the suit. The state wants the Trump administration to reverse its decision on the policy and to reimburse the costs associated with the change. “The Trump administration has consistently and flagrantly failed in its response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis at our southern border as well as in addressing legitimate border security concerns,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The president has shown time and again he is interested only in demonizing the vulnerable people who arrive at our border, stoking unfounded fears about national security while taking no action to substantively and proactively protect immigrants and our southern border communities from human- and drug-trafficking.”

In October of last year, the Trump administration abruptly ended the Safe Release program, which had been in place for a decade.

Legislators hear about improving shorter-term drought conditions

It’s not just your imagination: Things really are greener around New Mexico this year. And the state Legislature’s interim Water and Natural Resources Committee heard the good news in an update from State Climatologist Dr. David DuBois. “We’ve done really well (for) this time of year,” DuBois told the committee. Not only has this water year, which begins on Oct. 1, been well above average, the temperatures have also been cooler than in the past few years, which also helps with the water situation.

Trump approval ratings in NM remain low, even as his campaign says they might target state in 2020

Even as Donald Trump’s campaign says it may target New Mexico in 2020, his approval in the state remains very low. That’s according to the latest polling from Morning Consult, which releases the presidential approval ratings at the state level each month. This month, Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at just 41 percent, while 56 percent disapprove of his job performance. Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico was 52 percent at the beginning of 2017 and peaked at 59 percent in April of 2017. But his approval rating has been lower than his disapproval rating in every poll since June of 2017.

Luján throws support behind Medicare-for-all bill

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced Tuesday that he supports Medicare-for-all. The Assistant Speaker of the House, the fourth-highest position in Democratic leadership in the chamber, made the announcement as he seeks the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. His opponent in the primary, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, supports Medicare-for-all. Luján told NM Political Report between votes on Wednesday that he supports the legislation because it emphasizes “that healthcare is a fundamental right, not a privilege for the few.”

Toulouse Oliver said on Twitter she is glad that Luján “has come on board with the latest issue I’ve supported from Day 1.” Luján signed onto the bill sponsored by Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal.

Delegation on Mueller statement, possible impeachment

Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated President Donald Trump, spoke publicly Wednesday morning for the first time since he began the investigation in 2017. In his short statement, he said, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller also said, “the report is my testimony” and that he would not provide any additional information to Congress. After Mueller’s televised statement, NM Political Report asked all three of New Mexico’s members of the House and both U.S. Senators these questions:

Has the Senator/Representative read the full report?Does the Senator/Representative feel that the House should begin impeachment proceedings?If not, why? And what, if any, other steps should be taken?

State preparing for a ‘full count’ in the next census

New Mexico faces challenges in getting a full and accurate count for the next census—and for receiving the federal funding that comes with it. So the state, and others, are getting ready in advance of the 2020 census. As part of the preparations, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham traveled to New Mexico this week and met with stakeholders and public officials, including both U.S. Senators who represent the state. As part of his trip, Dillingham traveled with U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and local elected officials and stakeholders in a remote part of Los Lunas on Tuesday. The community was an example of a hard-to-count area of the state.

Join our team

We are hiring a new environment reporter. In the past two and a half years, our award-winning environment project has been a key part of our coverage and we want that to be true for years to come. So we’re looking to hire another experienced environment reporter to take over and help us make sure we continue to have the best reporting on climate change, water, environmental protection and other issues involving the environment in New Mexico. If you’re interested, read the job description here. We’ll be accepting applications through June 10 and plan on having our new environment reporter star on July 3.

Protesters march to ‘stop the bans’ on abortion

A couple of hundred abortion rights activists gathered in Albuquerque Tuesday as part of nationwide “Stop the Bans” protests. Ellie Rushforth, the ACLU of New Mexico Reproductive Rights Attorney, told the crowd, “We must keep fighting because our lives depend on it.”

The crowd then marched through downtown Albuquerque, holding signs and chanting slogans in support of abortion access. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who is running for U.S. Senate, attended the rally. “I’m still fuming over the fact that the U.S. Senate put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “I can’t help but think that if more women were serving in the U.S. Senate, the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings would have been very different.”

Representatives for members of the New Mexico congressional delegation also attended.

State urges higher vaccination rates, confirms measles case

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed the state’s first case of measles in nearly five years. Last week, DOH said a one-year-old child from Sierra County is the first New Mexican infected with the disease since December of 2014. “We have worked with the clinic that treated the child and the patient’s family to identify people who may have been exposed so we can prevent more cases of the disease,” DOH Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel announced Friday. “We encourage everyone to check whether you and your family have been vaccinated to protect against measles. Immunization is the best tool we have to protect people from measles.”

Measles is highly infectious and was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, thanks to the development of a vaccine in the 1960s and a concerted effort by the Centers for Disease Control beginning in the late 1970s.