ABQ City Council passes ordinance to create Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission

The Albuquerque City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to create the city’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission Monday evening. The creation of the commission is the first of 39 recommendations the city’s Domestic Violence Task Force made earlier this fall. Other recommendations include building a clearinghouse website with information, providing training to businesses as well as financial support and structure for domestic violence training in Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico. The task force also recommended the city support the Albuquerque Police Department and other agencies in collecting and tracking data and that the city provide financial support and structure within the Community Safety Department to train responders on cultural competence, language access, LGBTQ populations and education on domestic violence, intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Another recommendation is for the city to hire a full-time domestic violence coordinator, a position that is already filled. The task force met for two years and brought together various stakeholders including representatives from community groups who work with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

PNM files for rate increases

People who live in Public Service Company of New Mexico’s service territory will see a 9.7 percent increase in the base rate for electricity starting in January 2024, but because the utility will not be paying as much for fuel to generate electricity, officials say the average residential customer’s bill will only increase by an estimated 75 cents, or less than one percent. This is based on the average customer using about 600 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. PNM filed a proposed rate increase with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Monday. As a regulated utility, PNM requires PRC approval for any changes in rates. Ron Darnell, the senior vice president of public policy, said the rate increase that PNM is asking for is “significantly offset” by the savings from the closure of the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant west of Farmington, and by choice PNM has made while managing the transition to renewable energy.

Slate of nominees chosen for governor to consider for PRC

The nominating committee tasked with submitting candidates to the governor for appointment to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission chose nine people to nominate. The slate of names includes one Republican. The committee met on Friday and quickly agreed on the slate of names. The governor will choose three of those nominees to appoint as commissioners and the state Senate will have the chance to confirm those nominees. No more than two of the three appointees can be from the same political party.

TANF reforms could be part of 2023 legislative session

The Legislative Health and Human Services Committee heard suggestions from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty on how to reform the Temporary Relief for Needy Families, or TANF, program. TANF, or NM Works as it is known in New Mexico, provides temporary financial assistance to families in crisis for things like rent, clothes, utilities and items not covered by SNAP EBT (formerly known as food stamps) benefits such as diapers. 

“The income inequality that existed before COVID is a problem that exists here: the high rates of hunger and poverty and unemployment that we have we (The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty) think stems from the centuries of colonialism and economic policy that, in the past, has boosted corporations and other industries and not necessarily the people that lived here,” Director of the Public Benefits team at New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Teague Gonzalez said. “What we’re finding is just how much the social costs of that inequality lie for why childhood poverty is so persistent here even after the child becomes an adult. Every child in New Mexico, and in this country should have opportunity.”

When low-income households have a financial boost, the children in those households benefit the most throughout their lifetime, Gonzalez said. “Giving the households low-income children live in additional income will result in long-term impacts,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez presented a list of issues and possible reforms for the TANF program at the interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee meeting on Nov. 29.

Her child was stillborn at 39 weeks. She blames a system that doesn’t always listen to mothers.

The day before doctors had scheduled Amanda Duffy to give birth, the baby jolted her awake with a kick.

A few hours later, on that bright Sunday in November 2014, she leaned back on a park bench to watch her 19-month-old son Rogen enjoy his final day of being an only child. In that moment of calm, she realized that the kick that morning was the last time she had felt the baby move.

She told herself not to worry. She had heard that babies can slow down toward the end of a pregnancy and remembered reading that sugary snacks and cold fluids can stimulate a baby’s movement. When she got back to the family’s home in suburban Minneapolis, she drank a large glass of ice water and grabbed a few Tootsie Rolls off the kitchen counter.