2019 Top Stories #4: Efforts to legalize recreational cannabis

A major topic this year was cannabis legalization. Two different bills to legalize recreational cannabis this year failed to make it to the governor’s desk. But after the legislative session ended, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she would consider legalization during the 2020 session. She also convened a working group to come up with a proposal for legalization that addressed Lujan Grisham’s public safety concerns. 

That group, headed by Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, almost immediately faced criticism for not better representing medical cannabis patients. But Davis said he would be inclusive and transparent. 

The group included members from law enforcement, state departments and cannabis producers.

2019 Top Stories #5: The Energy Transition Act’s rocky start

When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act into law in March, she called the law “transformational” and “a really big deal.”

“The Energy Transition Act fundamentally changes the dynamic in New Mexico. This legislation is a promise to future generations of New Mexicans, who will benefit from both a cleaner environment and a more robust energy economy with exciting career and job opportunities,” she said at the time in a statement. But the first attempt to implement the new law hasn’t been smooth. The investor-owned utility PNM announced in 2017 that it planned to close the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired plant located outside Farmington. But PNM didn’t formally submit to the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) its consolidated application for abandonment, securitization and replacement power for the power plant until July 2019, weeks after the Energy Transition Act had been signed into law.

2019 Top Stories: Numbers 9-6

Note: Until the end of the year, we will be counting down the top stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. 9 (tie). Budget surplus

New Mexico is in the midst of a budget surplus amid record oil and gas activity in the state. And with that increased spending means debate on how to spend the “new” money. The state increased spending on education and many other areas of the state budget, including extra money for road projects, in a budget that hit $7 billion.