With just one week away from the 2021 session, state legislators have prefiled over 120 bills. Here’s a glimpse of some of the environment-focused bills we’ll be watching.
The Green Amendment: State Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque and Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, are proposing an amendment to the New Mexico state constitution to protect the state’s natural resources. Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces is introducing the bill in the House.
The proposed constitutional amendment would provide residents of New Mexico with environmental rights, including a right to a clean and healthy environment and a right to the preservation of the environment. The amendment would also direct the state to protect environmental resources for the benefit of all the people.
The University of New Mexico has not hosted a basketball home game at the iconic University Arena, known as The Pit, since early in 2020. But the arena will soon have crowds again for a very different reason, as University of New Mexico Health announced it would use the property as a site for mass-COVID-19 vaccinations as the state moves to expand vaccinations. The plan is currently to start vaccinations at the site on Jan. 19. UNM Hospitals Chief Executive Officer Kate Becker said UNM Health said “vaccination is the key to getting past this pandemic.”
She estimated the facility would be able to administer 1,680 doses of the Pfizer vaccine per day, then ramp up to double that number, nearly 3,400, when those who are vaccinated need their second shot of the vaccine.
New Mexico lawmakers have tried to take on drug addiction and deadly overdoses for decades. During previous years, lawmakers from both major parties attempted to address opiate epidemics in the state through both increased penalties and more progressive measures.
This year, with not only a Democratic majority and a Democratic governor, but also a new incoming class of more progressive Democrats in the Senate, the state could see movement on bills that would lower penalties for drug possession as well as public health minded approaches to addiction.
Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, told NM Political Report that she plans to sponsor a bill that would allow for safe and legal places to use illegal narcotics, often referred to as safe injection sites. The idea, Armstrong said, is that people would be able to bring already obtained narcotics to a designated location where there would be medical professionals on hand to assist in the event of an overdose and provide resources for recovery.
“It makes sense to me, for public safety, for the health and safety of the individual and a different attempt to try and get folks help,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, who has consistently sponsored healthcare related bills during her six years in the Legislature, said safe consumption sites would hopefully address concerns in many communities regarding used needles scattered around public areas like parks and playgrounds. But, she said, it would also address over-criminalization of substance addiction.
“It is definitely a healthcare issue,” Armstrong said. “But it is a criminal justice reform as well, because this is a safe place with no threat of being arrested.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to reinstate restrictions on the a medication abortion pill that allowed patients to receive it through the mail during the pandemic. The justices ruled 7 to 2 on the decision in favor of the U.S. Federal Drug Administration. The FDA has maintained a rule that a patient must travel to a clinic to pick up the abortion pill mifepristone for the past 20 years when the drug first came onto the market. Reproductive advocates and experts have said that is politically motivated. The patient can take the pill in a place of their own choosing.
In July 2020, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed onto a letter of support for a natural gas export facility being proposed in Baja California, Mexico. The letter, which was addressed to Mexico’s Energy Secretary Nahle Garcia, touted the facility as a potential “major North American west coast energy export hub” of natural gas to Asian Markets.
“Energy demand is soaring in Asia, led by China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India due to manufacturing and economic growth,” the letter reads. “All of these countries are using natural gas as a way to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions.”
The letter was signed by two other governors and the chairman of the Ute tribe in Colorado, on behalf of the Western States and Tribal Nations Natural Gas Initiative (WSTN). New Mexico joined the group in late 2019, with little media attention, when the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WSTN. A few months after sending the letter, the facility was approved by Mexico’s regulators and Baja California joined WTSN.
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. President Donald Trump met with top military officials and gave his approval to activate the D.C. National Guard three days before he encouraged a mob of angry protesters to take their grievances to the U.S. Capitol. A Pentagon memo released Friday offers these insights, as well as the first detailed timeline of the bungled law enforcement response to Wednesday’s insurrection. The timeline shows that the planning started at least as far back as Dec.