Guv issues executive order to further protect abortion access in New Mexico

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order on Monday to protect abortion providers from extradition if other states hostile to abortion rights attempt to pursue charges against the providers. Lujan Grisham signed the order during a press conference on Monday. She was flanked by representatives from abortion rights organizations and state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. Lopez sponsored the bill that repealed New Mexico’s 1969 law that banned abortion with few exceptions in 2021. Lujan Grisham said the order would provide protections in a number of ways, including ensuring access for individuals who reside in the state and also ensure protections for individuals traveling from out of the state.

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, creating public health emergency

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday morning, creating what individuals working on the front lines of reproductive access in New Mexico called a “public health emergency” during a press conference Friday afternoon. Farinaz Khan, a healthcare provider, said every abortion clinic in four states closed by Friday morning. “As women and people with uteruses, we are second class citizens in our own country. Our patients will be deeply harmed by this decision,” she said. Many during the press conference stressed that abortion is, and will remain, legal and safe in New Mexico.

Majority of voters support NM’s law protecting abortion access

A poll commissioned by NM Political Report found that a majority of voters support abortion rights, including a law protecting abortion rights recently passed by the state legislature, and also are poised to approve dipping into the state’s massive land grant permanent fund for education funding. Abortion rights could be at the forefront of midterm elections as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to gut the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer. When asked in the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling if abortion should be always legal; legal with some limitations; illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life; or always illegal, a majority said it should be legal (with 30 percent saying always, 25 percent saying legal with limitations). Just 13 percent said it should always be illegal and 29 percent said it should be illegal except in the cases or rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. When asked about the new state law that would allow abortion to remain legal in New Mexico regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, 53 percent said they supported the recently enacted law and 36 percent said they opposed it.

PRC hearing examiners: PNM ‘scheming’ and engaging in ‘guileful manipulation’ of the Energy Transition Act

Late Friday, hearing examiners from the state entity that regulates electric utilities issued a recommendation to require the state’s largest electric utility to issue rate credits for customers. In the 119-page recommended decision, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission hearing examiners, Anthony Medeiros and Ashley Schannauer, used words like “scheming” and “guileful manipulation” of the Energy Transition Act to describe Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM)’s plans to keep customers paying for the San Juan Generating Station after the power plant closes. This comes as the PNM prepares to end its operation of the San Juan Generating Station once new solar resources come online. These solar projects were initially scheduled to be completed by the end of this month, but supply chain challenges have pushed the completion date back, and the plant is now expected to close at the end of September. One unit of the plant is scheduled to close at the end of this month and the other will close at the end of September.

Poll: Lujan Grisham with narrow lead at start of general election

A new poll commissioned by NM Political Report shows that incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds a narrow lead over Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti at the start of the general election campaign. The poll by Public Policy Polling shows Lujan Grisham leads Ronchetti 45 percent to 42 percent, with Libertarian Karen Bedonie receiving 9 percent and 5 percent saying they’re not sure. The lead for Lujan Grisham is within the margin of error for the poll. Related: Poll: Lujan Grisham even approval/disapproval ratings

Lujan Grisham won the 2018 gubernatorial campaign 57.2 percent to 42.8 percent over Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate and now chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico. Ronchetti lost the 2020 U.S. Senate election to Democrat Ben Ray Luján 51.7 percent to 45.6 percent with Libertarian Bob Walsh taking 2.6 percent.

Poll: Lujan Grisham even approval/disapproval ratings

Just under 50 percent of New Mexico voters approve of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance according to a recent poll commissioned by NM Political Report. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 48 percent of New Mexico voters approved of her job performance while an equal 48 percent disapproved. Another 5 percent were not sure. The numbers do not add up to 100 percent because of rounding. Lujan Grisham’s approval was higher among women than men, with 54 percent of women approving of her job performance and 54 percent of men disapproving.

Facing removal from office, criminal charges, Otero County certifies election results

A controversy over certifying election results in Otero County that made national headlines ended quietly on Friday with a 2-1 vote in favor of certifying the results. 

Facing possible criminal charges and removal from office, Otero County Commissioners Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt voted to certify the county’s primary election results, while Commissioner Couy Griffin stayed true to his word and voted against certification. All are Republicans. Griffin, who hours before, was sentenced by a federal judge for being in an unauthorized area during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, said his reason for voting against the certification wasn’t “based on any evidence,” but instead his intuition. 

“It’s only based on my gut, my gut feeling, and my own intuition and that’s all I need to base my vote on the elections right there,” Griffin said. 

A breath later, Griffin criticized “the media” for ignoring facts that he said the commission had found that allegedly show state elections are fraudulent. 

“I still believe that our elections are fraudulent,” Griffin said. “I believe that we already have enough evidence to prove, to substantiate what the media keeps calling unsubstantiated.

New Mexico legislators meet with White House officials over abortion

With the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthcare a few weeks away, White House officials held a conference call with New Mexico legislators and others about the impending reproductive healthcare crisis. House Majority Leader Javier Martinez of Albuquerque, state Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena of Mesilla and state Sen. Shannon Pinto of Tohatchi, all Democrats, participated in the call with White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein and  White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Julie Chavez Rodriguez earlier this week. After the Texas six-week gestational ban went into effect last September, some clinics in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada experienced a 500 percent increase in patients, according to the White House statement. Martinez told NM Political Report that specific policy issues did not come up during the call but said that “we talked about making sure we will provide access to reproductive health services.”

“New Mexico stands with women and New Mexico respects reproductive justice and it will be a beacon of hope for women across the country. It is our responsibility as state legislators to make sure it happens,” he said.

EPA, state reach settlement over Gold King Mine spill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed to pay the state of New Mexico $32 million as part of a settlement announced Thursday in the Gold King Mine spill case. In August 2015, EPA crews triggered a mine spill in Colorado that sent heavy-metal laden water into the Animas River, which flows through northwest New Mexico. “There were failures in the system and there were a lot of questions and there was a lot of fear in this community,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said. “I still remember coming in that day, and it was chaotic.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Balderas, New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney and EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe met with reporters and community leaders at the Farmington Museum to announce the settlement. Balderas said that, in the wake of the mine spill, New Mexico officials realized “the state was going to have to get into a fistfight to really be a voice and to assess damages.”

While EPA Administrator Michael Regan did not attend the event, the agency sent out a statement following the announcement.

State Supreme Court orders Otero County Commission to certify primary election results

The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered three county commissioners in southern New Mexico to comply with state law by certifying the county’s primary election results. 

After the three-member Otero County Commission refused to certify election results during a meeting on Monday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver filed a petition with the state’s high court asking justices to compel the county commission to follow state law and to do their ministerial duty. On Wednesday, the state supreme court granted the writ of mandamus and ordered the commissioners to “comply with the requirements set forth in [state law].”

The commission has until Friday to meet and certify the election or presumably face a contempt of court charge. 

Otero County Commission Chair Vickie Marquardt could not be reached for comment, but Commissioner Couy Griffin told NM Political Report that he plans to “hold the line.”

“What the state is trying to do to us by leveraging us, and taking control, essentially, of our commission board through the courts, I believe, is very unconstitutional and it’s an absolute disgrace.”

Griffin was found guilty earlier this year of illegally entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

State law requires that local governments certify election results within 10 days of an election and then send the results to state election officials for further certification. Until that process is completed, the election results are deemed unofficial and the winners of the primary election are not officially candidates. Holding up the certification process also means that Griffin’s colleague, Commissioner Gerald Matherly, who won his Republican primary race by 32 percentage points, is still not considered a general election candidate.