Legislative roundup, Feb. 12, 2019

Days remaining in session: 33 Prison profits: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s inaugural committee says it will give a donation from the private prison company Geo Group to charity. The Florida-based firm runs several prisons in New Mexico and has contributed to politicians on both sides of the aisle. According to financial disclosures Lujan Grisham’s inaugural […]

Legislative roundup, Feb. 12, 2019

Days remaining in session: 33

Prison profits: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s inaugural committee says it will give a donation from the private prison company Geo Group to charity.

The Florida-based firm runs several prisons in New Mexico and has contributed to politicians on both sides of the aisle.

According to financial disclosures Lujan Grisham’s inaugural committee published last week, Geo Group donated $2,500 to the Democratic governor’s inaugural festivities.

Democratic politicians have faced awkward questions about financial contributions from the private prison industry amid outrage over the federal government’s zero-tolerance policy toward undocumented migrants. Companies like Geo Group have stood to gain from the federal policy.

Lujan Grisham, a former leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has been an outspoken critic of federal government’s stand and has said she wants greater oversight of private prisons in New Mexico.

So, when Geo Group was listed among the donors towards her inaugural events, The New Mexican asked whether the committee would return the donation.

“The governor’s position on private prisons is well known,” Elizabeth Collins, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, said in an email. “Geo Group, as a company doing business in New Mexico, chose to make a contribution to the Inaugural Committee and the committee accepted it. We will be including Geo Group’s contribution in the donations the Inaugural Committee makes to charities and nonprofits.”

Spring forward — or fall backward: A bill to eliminate daylight saving time is breezing through the state House of Representatives.

Sponsored by Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, D-Taos, the bill would have New Mexico join Arizona in opting out of the annual springing forward and falling backward.

Gonzales, a former school administrator, said the change would make it safer for students waiting for buses.

The idea has support from the Farm and Livestock Bureau, too.

But Southern New Mexicans aren’t wild about the bill, noting it would put residents of communities such as Hobbs and Clovis two hours behind neighboring Texas during certain times of year.

Nonetheless, the House Judiciary Committee voted 10-3 to advance the measure. It goes next to the full House of Representatives.

The bill appears to be on a collision course with Senate Bill 226, which would put New Mexico on daylight saving time permanently.

Student loans: A bill giving the state Regulation and Licensing Department power to oversee companies that service student loans cleared its first hurdle Monday.

The House Commerce and Economic Development Committee voted 6-4 to advance it. Republicans dissented.

The measure, House Bill 172 by Reps. Patricia Roybal Caballero and Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil, both Democrats from Albuquerque, would create three positions in the department to help students navigate the state’s “opaque” college loan system, Roybal Caballero told the committee.

Though the bill does not include an appropriation, a representative of the Regulation and Licensing Department said it would cost about $284,000 to fund those three positions.

Bonnie Latreille, director of research and advocacy for the Washington, D.C.-based Student Borrowers Protection Center, told the committee that about 200,000 New Mexicans are struggling with student debt. One in five is over age 50.

The bill next goes to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. 

Another month, please: The Senate Rules Committee unanimously advanced a bill on Monday to honor writer Rudolfo Anaya and promote reading among children.

Anaya, born in Pastura outside Santa Rosa, may be best known for his novel Bless Me, Ultima. He is the recipient of the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Art, among other recognitions.

Sen Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, introduced Senate Bill 270 to recognize Feb. 14 as “Rudolfo Anaya I Love to Read Day.” But several senators said February is already chock full of such days of honor, including American Indian Day, African American Day and Hispanic Culture Day. They asked Campos to consider changing the date to another month so Anaya, 81, doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Campos said he will consider the idea. 

It’s official: State senators on Monday confirmed two more Cabinet secretaries without dissent.

Jennifer Schroer, the state’s secretary of tourism, said her goal is to “make New Mexico the top destination in the Southwest.”

She previously worked in the Tourism Department in Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration.

David Scrase, secretary of the Human Services Department, said his priority is improving behavioral health programs and enrolling eligible New Mexicans in the state’s Medicaid program. Scrase was a practicing doctor and a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Quote of the day: “Usually people have to die before people gather in a room to say nice things like this.” — Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, on the wave of testimonials for Cabinet secretaries Schroer and Scrase.

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

Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Hello fellow political junkies! The 2024 legislative session is over with the possibility for a special session for firearm-related legislation. In English: Gov. Michelle…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

A bill to prohibit immigration detention in New Mexico failed a few weeks after an organization issued a report regarding the conditions for a…
Arizona regulators reject proposal to assist Navajo communities impacted by coal-fired power generation

Arizona regulators reject proposal to assist Navajo communities impacted by coal-fired power generation

Utility regulators in Arizona rejected proposals from an Arizona utility to provide assistance to coal-impacted communities, including in Navajo communities in northwest New Mexico.…
Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

Utility regulators approves PNM’s transportation electrification program

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved a plan from the state’s largest utilities for increasing adoption of electric vehicles this week. The…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
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…
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…
Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

The New Mexico State Supreme Court censured a New Mexico attorney because of her “misconduct” in two unsuccessful cases pushing back on COVID-19 regulations…
Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

During her state of the state address on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told legislators that one of her legislative priorities is a request…
Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

The town of Edgewood is moving forward with its ballot referendum on its anti-abortion ordinance at a cost of more than $35,000. The town…
2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral…
NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

The New Mexico Supreme Court will decide whether anti-abortion ordinances passed by local governments in eastern New Mexico over the last 13 months can…
HSD taps former Arizona Medicaid official to lead New Mexico’s Medicaid program

HSD taps former Arizona Medicaid official to lead New Mexico’s Medicaid program

A former Arizona Medicaid senior policy advisor and assistant director will head the New Mexico Medicaid program under the state’s Human Services Department. HSD…
AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and a coalition of 19 other attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…

Bill to require disclosure of use of AI in campaign materials goes to governor

The Senate approved a bill aiming to require the disclosure of the use of artificial intelligence or other changes made by computers to campaign…
House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

The House narrowly approved a bill that would ban firearms near polling places. The House voted 35-34 to pass the bill following an extensive…
Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Nella Domenici is the lone Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, after Manny Gonzales III failed to qualify for the ballot. Gonzales did not file…
Another New Mexico legislative session ends, and again — no new oil and gas reforms

Another New Mexico legislative session ends, and again — no new oil and gas reforms

By Jerry Redfern, Capital & Main “It was a very good year!” The message from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association landed in inboxes the…
Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Politics Newsletter: Special legislative session for gun bills?

Hello fellow political junkies! The 2024 legislative session is over with the possibility for a special session for firearm-related legislation. In English: Gov. Michelle…
Arizona regulators reject proposal to assist Navajo communities impacted by coal-fired power generation

Arizona regulators reject proposal to assist Navajo communities impacted by coal-fired power generation

Utility regulators in Arizona rejected proposals from an Arizona utility to provide assistance to coal-impacted communities, including in Navajo communities in northwest New Mexico.…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report