Guv: Legislature’s inability to tackle crime ‘defies explanation’

A day after the mother of a teenage murder victim cried at the Capitol as lawmakers approved a bill said to be lenient on criminals, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham embarked on a public relations campaign that shifted the blame for lack of action on her “tough-on-crime” agenda to the Legislature. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat running […]

Guv: Legislature’s inability to tackle crime ‘defies explanation’

A day after the mother of a teenage murder victim cried at the Capitol as lawmakers approved a bill said to be lenient on criminals, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham embarked on a public relations campaign that shifted the blame for lack of action on her “tough-on-crime” agenda to the Legislature.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat running for re-election this year, told reporters “it defies explanation” why lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature have been unable to reach consensus on bills meant to fight crime in New Mexico.

“I don’t understand why they don’t want to tackle it head on, but I’m going to stay the course for as long as it takes because we all have a responsibility to our families and our communities to do everything we can about it,” Lujan Grisham said. 

A short time later, her office issued a news release stating the governor, along with Attorney General Hector Balderas and members of her public safety team, had met with the mothers of violent crime victims, including Nicole Chavez, who was in tears at the Capitol a day earlier as the Senate passed a controversial bill on a sentencing option for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder.

“Governor, Attorney General meet with family of crime victims, reiterate commitment to meaningful action,” the news release proclaimed.

“I am deeply troubled and frustrated by the Legislature’s reluctance to take meaningful action — and New Mexicans should be outraged,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement in the news release, which included pictures of the governor sitting across from Chavez and Angel Alire, whose son also was gunned down in Albuquerque.

Lujan Grisham told reporters every New Mexican has the constitutional right to be safe in their community.

“No matter what happens in the legislative session … we’re going to keep finding ways to address the violent crime problem, and I do expect the criminal penalty enhancement to get up there,” she said, referring to a proposal to increase penalties for second-degree murder from 15 years to 18 years.

Lujan Grisham did not specifically address the bill passed Tuesday by the Senate that prohibits life without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder. As part of the ground rules of the interview with the governor, reporters were limited to one question.

Lujan Grisham said she hopes “there’s not just politics as the underpinning” reason her crime bills haven’t gained traction. But she said she would keep “putting pressure” on lawmakers.

“There isn’t a New Mexican that I know that isn’t a victim of some crime,” said Lujan Grisham, adding her grandson was held at gunpoint in an attempted carjacking and her fiancée’s business has been vandalized numerous times.

“I witnessed a potential violent crime myself, as governor, at my daughter’s house,” she said.

“No one in this state can deny that crime is a problem,” she added. “It is a crime all across the country.”

Crime isn’t the only legislative priority where Lujan Grisham has encountered opposition. Some of the governor’s other priorities for the 30-day legislative session have been met with resistance by Democrats and Republicans alike. 

But while the governor has suffered setbacks on some of her other priorities, she isn’t ready to throw in the towel with only eight days of the session left.

“I focus on every 24-hour period,” she said. “On one hand, it feels like it’s too short to get a ton of work done, and on the other hand feels like it’s a very long time to get all the things that we believe will make a difference for New Mexicans. But I’m actually very confident that we get a tax package that has the kinds of tax relief that I think are most valuable and important to New Mexicans.”

Lujan Grisham said she feels “very confident” two key tax proposals — a push to eliminate New Mexico’s income tax on Social Security benefits and a reduction of the gross receipts tax — will come together.

Lujan Grisham also said no one should be surprised if legislation dealing with hydrogen production makes its way to her desk, though she acknowledged her initial proposal to turn New Mexico into a hydrogen hub, which she has called her “signature piece of legislation,” had faltered.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see nods to hydrogen opportunities for businesses in one of the many budget bills that will also make their way upstairs,” she said. “You’ll see some nods, won’t see our exact bill, so I count that as a win.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized its controversial public lands rule on Thursday. This rule is controversial because it allows for conservation leasing…
Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order on Thursday to withdraw more than 4,200 acres of land in Sandoval County near Placitas from mineral…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an 1864 abortion ban is enforceable, throwing another state bordering New Mexico into the situation of…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children, an organization that focuses on tax policy and how it impacts children in poverty, has new leadership. Gabrielle Uballez…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report