Legislative Newsletter: The government shutdown that almost was

Want to get this in your email before it posts on the site? Sign up here for free. Hello political junkies! Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown Saturday by passing a stopgap resolution that kept the government open for 45 days. This comes less than four months after the country narrowly dodged a debt crisis. 

The question arises of how we got here, at least in this chapter of the ongoing federal economic saga.

What a government shutdown means to New Mexicans

With the federal government preparing for a shutdown that seems all but inevitable, the all Democrat New Mexico congressional delegation have issued statements on what the shutdown means for New Mexicans as well as their thoughts about the shutdown in general. “We had a bipartisan budget deal this summer. Now MAGA Republicans are throwing that deal in the trash,” Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a statement. “They are playing political games with New Mexicans’ lives and it’s wholly unacceptable. “

A government shutdown could disrupt New Mexico’s economy, endanger nutritional assistance for postpartum women and children through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly called WIC, and put the US’s security at risk, Heinrich said.

NMDOH releases firearm report

A new report released Friday provides new details about gun violence in New Mexico one day after a Native American man was shot during a protest event in Rio Arriba County. Gun violence has been a hot topic in New Mexico throughout September largely due to  Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Sept. 8 executive order on the matter. As part of the order’s directions, the New Mexico Department of Health issued its “Comprehensive Report on Gunshot Victims Presenting at Hospitals in New Mexico” on Friday. The report was part of Lujan Grisham’s September executive order declaring gun violence a public health emergency.

ACLU-NM files complaint against CoreCivic over wrongful death claim

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and a private Albuquerque attorney have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against CoreCivic, the for-profit company that operates the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia. ACLU-NM and Coyle & Benoit, PLLC filed the civil suit in the First Judicial District in Santa Fe on Tuesday on behalf of the estate of Kesley Vial, a Brazilian man who sought asylum in the U.S. last year. Vial died by suicide* after spending an additional two months in detention after he lost his immigration hearing in June of last year. Vial was held in immigration detention from April 2022 until staff found him unresponsive in a cell on August 17, 2022. Related: Immigrant advocacy organizations seeking answers around Brazilian man’s death by suicide while in ICE custody

The lawsuit alleges both negligence and medical negligence by CoreCivic, whose staff were aware of Vial’s deteriorating mental health, according to the complaint.

AG gathers law enforcement to discuss possible solutions to gun violence

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez opened a Law Enforcement Summit Tuesday to address gun violence. The summit was Tuesday afternoon at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. “As the chief law enforcement officer in the state, I have a duty, I believe, to try and help elevate the voice of frontline police and prosecutors, and in many respects, the debate the conversation that has transpired in this community and in the state over the last several weeks, I think obscures some important facts and realities that the people of this community and the people that every community in New Mexico deserve to hear,” he said. Torrez added that he has a special interest in addressing the gun violence problem that he said seems to be endemic to Bernalillo County because he was born and raised in Albuquerque and is raising his family there. “I am profoundly upset and frankly angry about the lack of progress that has been made specifically with regard to the reduction of gun violence,” Torrez said.

Indigenous Women Rising: Abortion fund budget has doubled since Dobbs

Representatives from the abortion fund provider Indigenous Women Rising told members of the Interim Indian Affairs Committee on Monday that their monthly abortion fund budget has doubled since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Jonnette Paddy, Diné and IWR abortion fund director, told the committee on Monday that IWR previously spent $20,000 a month providing abortion patients with help to obtain an abortion but in 2021, that expenditure rose to $40,000 a month. Paddy told the committee that in 2020, IWR served 58 clients but in 2021, when Texas’ six-week gestational ban went into effect, the grassroots organization served 277 clients. Paddy said that at that time, the organization began providing what she called solidarity funding to individuals who are unhoused, are later in pregnancy, are minors, undocumented or Black. In 2022, the year of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, IWR funded 600 clients, which represented a 116 percent increase over the previous year, she said.

Invenergy official: Planned transmission line will bring economic benefits to New Mexico

The company that hopes to build a transmission line to move wind energy from Union County across the state to San Juan County told state legislators on Monday that it will begin an environmental review process next year and, depending in part on permitting timelines, may be able to begin moving electricity at the end of the decade. Invenergy, which already has developed a wind farm in Roosevelt County, now plans on constructing the North Path transmission line. That transmission line would be able to deliver 4,000 megawatts of clean energy. Officials presented an update on that project to the interim Indian Affairs Committee during its meeting in Santa Fe, which includes plans to begin the National Environmental Policy Act review process. The project will involve two converter stations on either end that will change the electricity from alternating current to direct current and then back to alternating current.

Legislative Newsletter: The race to 2024, so far

Want to get this in your email before it posts on the site? Sign up here for free. Hello fellow political junkies! The 2024 New Mexico General Election has heated up with more people announcing their candidacy for both federal and state offices. On Thursday, Greg Cunningham, R-Albuquerque, announced his intention for a rematch against District 29 incumbent Rep. Joy Garratt, D-Albuquerque.

PRC moves forward with hearing process for proposed LNG storage facility in Rio Rancho

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission will hear arguments for and against a new liquified natural gas storage facility rather than accepting a settlement stipulation between New Mexico Gas Company and the PRC staff. The commission voted 2-1 on Thursday rejecting the settlement in favor of moving forward with the hearing process. The commission has until March 2024 to decide whether to grant this request. That timeline was one of the reasons given for accepting the stipulation. The hearing itself in the process will take place Dec.

PRC approves rate credits for PNM customers

Customers of the Public Service Company of New Mexico will likely get some money back on their bills thanks to the closure of the San Juan Generating Station. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a settlement between various parties including PNM on Thursday that sets rate credits for customers going forward. Now it is up to the New Mexico Supreme Court to decide whether to dismiss the case, if PNM files a motion to dismiss. After that occurs, the rate credits could go into effect 30 days after the court order dismissing the case

Cydney Beadles with Western Resource Advocates, one of the parties to the settlement agreement, said PNM is already collecting the necessary signatures to file that motion. “It’s obvious that PNM wants to get this behind them and move forward,” she said.