Early childhood education expansion could empower New Mexico women, advocates say

On August 1, New Mexico will expand early child care assistance to allow a family of four with a  nearly $93,000 yearly income eligible for assistance from the state, among other early childcare changes. Some have said the expansions to early childcare could empower women in New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky announced earlier this month that, through funding from the federal American Rescue Plan, the state will expand who qualifies for early child care assistance. Micah McCoy, ECECD communications director, told NM Political Report that the income requirement for state assistance for early childcare is currently 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that equals about $53,000 a year, he said.

Abortion care providers prepare for Texas gestational ban

Abortion care providers in New Mexico expect an increase in patients if a court allows Texas’ six-week gestational ban to take effect in September. A group of Texas abortion fund and clinic providers filed suit in a Texas state court last week to stop the state’s new law from going into effect. But because the law is new territory, providers, abortion fund organizations and legal experts in New Mexico are watching to see if the court blocks the law with an injunction and, if not, how large the ripple effect could be felt in this neighboring state. Ellie Rushforth, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico called the Texas law not just unconstitutional but “sinister.”

“The point of this [Texas] law is to instill fear and place a bounty on the head of anyone who is providing abortion care or helping people get the care they need. It’s inviting and encouraging complete strangers to stake out and continue to harass abortion providers and networks of care,” she said.

AHA: LGBTQ at greater risk for cardiovascular events and risks

Growing evidence indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer adults experience worse cardiovascular health than their cisgender heterosexual peers according to the American Heart Association. For instance, transgender men are twice as likely to have a heart attack than cisgender men and four times as likely than cisgender women, according to the AHA. Transgender people are also more likely to experience blood clots when undergoing estrogen hormone therapy, the AHA reported. The scientific paper appeared in the AHA’s scientific journal Circulation last week. It described the multi-layered ways LGBTQ or questioning individuals have higher risk factors – primarily due to stress from discrimination – for cardiovascular disease when compared to their cisgender heterosexual peers.

Paid sick leave law will go into effect in 2022

On Thursday most bills that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law earlier this year went into effect but the one that did not yet is the Healthy Workplaces Act. The Healthy Workplaces Act, or paid sick leave, provides all private sector employees up to 64 hours of paid time off each year, regardless of the size of the business where the employee works. Employees will accrue one hour off for every 30 hours worked. Related: Paid sick leave bill heads to Guv’s desk

But, the law doesn’t go into effect until July 1, 2022. Miles Tokunow, an OLÉ community organizer who worked on the original bill, said delaying the start date of the law until next year was a concession made to the business community to give employers time to prepare for it.

Coalition of Native women urge the public to keep wearing masks

On Thursday the state ended COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, but Indigenous leaders with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women urge the public to keep wearing the mask. Angel Charley, Laguna and executive director of CSVANW, said this is a safety precaution. “It requires a lot of sacrifice from all of us as individuals; it’s how we made this much progress,” she said. “But until we reach herd immunity, until there is vaccination access for kids under 12, until there is true equitable access to vaccinations then we’re asserting this is a safety precaution.” 

The World Health Organization recommended that vaccinated people continue to wear masks, especially in light of the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is more contagious than other variants. Charley said the Navajo Nation is following WHO guidance and is continuing its mask mandate.

Advocates: SCOTUS decision emphasizes need for more LGBTQ protections

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Fulton v. the City of Philadelphia is not likely to a impact the New Mexico LGBTQ community, legal experts and advocates have said. Fulton v. the City of Philadelphia asked the Supreme Court to decide if Catholic Social Services (CSS) could continue its contract with that city to help find foster families even though the city said it couldn’t because CSS discriminates against same sex couples in its fostering application. The Supreme Court heard the case last fall and when the U.S. Congress was considering Justice Amy Coney Barrett for nomination to the bench, members of the LGBTQ community in New Mexico worried that a more conservative bench could overturn precedent and allow discrimination, which in turn could have a ripple effect in New Mexico. Related: U.S. Supreme Court could roll back LGBTQ equality

But, Ellie Rushforth, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said the court’s decision in June was so narrow it would only apply to this particular case wouldn’t likely have an impact in New Mexico. “I disagree with the finding but what the court said is, because the city contract contained a mechanism for offering individual discretion to the agencies, the court held the city could not refuse to extend the contract to Catholic Social Services,” she said.

NM expands early childcare subsidies

For the next two years, New Mexico will raise the income eligibility for childcare assistance from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 350 percent of the federal poverty level with a phase out at 400 percent of the federal poverty level, officials announced Thursday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Early Childcare Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales and state Sen. Michael Padilla spoke during a press conference Thursday to announce the change. The press conference was also part of a one-year anniversary celebration for ECECD, which is an agency that began under the Lujan Grisham administration to improve early childcare education. The press conference was held in Santa Fe and online. The department will use emergency funds available through the federal American Rescue Plan to increase the assistance starting August 1.

Former inmate sues Corrections Department for negligence

A former inmate is suing the New Mexico Corrections Department and some of its employees for allegedly endangering the man’s life while transporting him and others in an unair-conditioned vehicle in 2019. Lawrence Lamb, 61, filed the suit last week in Santa Fe state district court. The suit alleges that on June 21, 2019 Corrections Department officers loaded him and seven other inmates into a transport van to carry them 300 miles from the Los Lunas-based Central New Mexico Correctional Facility to the Clayton-based Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility. Due to a high-rate of speed, sometimes as much as 90 miles an hour, the rear passenger tire blew out and a metal object blew through the plywood floor and struck Lamb in the leg, the complaint states. Lamb’s lawyer, Steven Allen, the director of New Mexico Prison and Jail Project, said getting hit with a bolt was “the least of his concerns” after what allegedly came next.

With shelter beds available in New Mexico, asylum seekers wait across the border in dangerous conditions because of a Trump-imposed policy

Hundreds of available shelter beds in New Mexico are empty while families, including a Honduran mother and her child, seek asylum in the U.S. are forced to wait across the border with Mexico in Ciudad Juárez. Advocates have said there is a humanitarian crisis happening along the border. The Donald Trump administration’s border policies, which many describe as racist, inflammatory and discriminatory, were implemented early in the COVID-19 pandemic to stop migrants along the southern border from crossing. The administration said the policies were in place to stop the spread of the disease, though the federal government implemented very few restrictions on international flights for international travelers and none for U.S. travelers. 

While President Joe Biden has reversed most of Trump’s COVID-19 border policies, he has not ended Title 42, which has kept the border closed for people like Ana Judyth Ayala Delcid, 24, and her two-year-old daughter, who journeyed through perilous conditions from Honduras through Mexico this past spring to seek asylum in the U.S.

Ayala Delcid told NM Political Report, through an interpreter provided by El Calvario Methodist Church shelter in Las Cruces, that she left her home with her young daughter and began the journey across Mexico, despite her fears of how hard it might be, because in two separate incidents, gang members killed her aunt and invaded her house at night. She said she is afraid to return.

Social justice advocate Pamelya Herndon appointed new HD 28 representative

The Bernalillo County Commission appointed social justice advocate and lawyer Pamelya Herndon to the state House to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, on Tuesday. The Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 4 to 0 in favor of Herndon with one, Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, absent. Herndon vied for the job against seven other candidates but one, William Boughan-Trammell, ended his campaign for the seat before the commission meeting began. Herndon, who is a lawyer trained in tax law and has experience in both government and the nonprofit sector, touted her professional background and years of service for various social justice causes. She said she has worked for gender pay equity, helped individuals enroll in the New Mexico Health Exchange and to take the U.S. Census.