Monique Vallabhan, a certified nurse practitioner, recalls recently treating a student with a headache referred to her by the school nurse at one of Albuquerque’s largest public schools. The student left class to get ibuprofen from the school nurse, which Vallabhan prompted her to conduct a brief checkup. It turns his headache came after his dad kicked him in the head. Vallabhan connected him with the school health clinic’s resources, which includes a psychiatrist and a behavioral health therapist. “If he just took ibuprofen, those kind of things would be missed,” Vallabhan, who coordinates a full health clinic in Albuquerque High School, told NM Political Report in a recent interview.
New Mexico received an extension on a waiver that will allow the state to comply with the federal REAL ID Act. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave the extension to the state on Friday after the state legislature approved a bill that would bring New Mexico into compliance with the controversial federal law while still allowing those who are in the country illegally to legally drive. The Associated Press first reported the news that the federal government granted the waiver. Gov. Susana Martinez requested the waiver earlier this week while in Washington D.C.
This comes after DHS denied an extension to New Mexico late last year. The department let the congressional delegation know that an extension would still be available if the Legislature and governor could come to an agreement before the session.
New Mexico will soon have tougher criminal penalties for people caught manufacturing, distributing and possessing child pornography. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill, which became one of the most heated during this year’s legislative session, earlier today. The new law increases prison term penalties for manufacturing child porn from nine years to 12 years, distribution from three years to 11 years and possession from 18 months to 10 years. One more year of prison will be added to each penalty if the victim in the child pornography is under 13 years old. It will go into effect later this year.
The KUNM call-in show for this week focused on the recently-ended legislative session. The station invited Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Milan Simonich, New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry President Jason Espinoza, New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Susan Boe and this writer to discuss transparency issues and more. We discussed the failure of an ethics commission, the budget situation, the general tone of the Roundhouse during the session and more. As always, there were some entertaining callers and host Gwyneth Doland kept things moving along. You can listen to the entire thing below, courtesy of KUNM.
Last year, Lawrence Medina helped start a transitional living program to provide services for women fresh out of jail and prison and in need of help. Funding for Sangre de Christo House, a 20-bed facility located just south of Cochiti Pueblo in Peña Blanca, comes from Medicaid, the state Corrections Department and the state Human Services Department. Medina praises the state Human Services Department, which gave his provider Sangre de Christo House key startup money, to “fill a big gap” in services for behavioral health, which treats a vulnerable sector of the population struggling with drug addictions and mental illness. “I have to give HSD all the credit because they’ve been 100 percent behind us,” Medina told NM Political Report in an interview. This year, he might not be so lucky.
Following passage of a bill during the recent legislative session to meet requirements of the federal Real ID Act, Gov. Susana Martinez has since applied for a waiver from the federal law. The Associated Press reports that Martinez formally requested a waiver for New Mexico from federal Homeland Security Department Deputy Secretary Alejando Mayorkas. Martinez told reporters last week that she would be doing so during her upcoming trip to Washington DC. Because of the state’s failure to make progress towards meeting Real ID standards, New Mexico driver’s licenses currently aren’t accepted as entrance to some federal facilities. Homeland Security warned that continued failure would mean its driver’s licenses won’t be able to be used in airports in two years.
While ethics reform was on everyone’s mind when the 2016 Legislative Session began, the increased attention didn’t mean increased success in passing ethics bills. There were some small successes. The House will archive proceedings and a bill to streamline campaign finance reporting is on Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. But the real ethics news was the crown jewel of ethics legislation—an independent ethics commission—once again failed after heading over to the Senate. And a bill to shine the light on so-called “dark money” failed on the House side.
While much of the legislation that came from the House in the the 30-day seemed to focus on crime and tougher penalties, lawmakers did, in fact, pass a budget—albeit one that did not make anyone completely happy. The House passed their version of a budget amid news of falling oil prices on a 38-31, nearly party-line vote. The $6.32 billion plan relied on sweeping more that $70 million from other state accounts such as the tobacco settlement fund and the local DWI grant fund into the state general fund. Most House Democrats voted against the bill, citing cuts to areas they said needed more money and increases to areas such as the corrections department. That budget was largely scrapped as the economic situation grew worse.
One of the session’s most scrutinized measures came to an unlikely topic—child pornography. The bill, carried primarily by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, soared through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives fairly quickly. That version allowed charges for possession of each individual photo, with a maximum of 18 months for each charge. Some argued this could result in charges of harsher penalties for possessing the images or videos than the creation of the images or videos. But things got heated in the Democratic-controlled Senate as disputes over the bill arose on bipartisan levels.
The 2016 Legislative session ended Thursday at noon. Here at NM Political Report, we recapped what Gov. Susana Martinez, House leaders and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez had to say. But here are just a few numbers to remember the session by. 0 – Times the House Rules and Order of Business Committee met this year
1 – Constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot in November
1.5 – Approximate number of hours a “No Bloggers Allowed” sign was up at Senate Print Media Gallery. 30 – Days in the 2016 Legislative Session
49 – House bills that passed the Senate
52 – Senate bills that passed the House
64 – Senate bills the Senate passed this year
99 – House bills the House passed this year
101 – Total bills that were sent to the governor’s desk
105 – Memorials that passed the Senate
114 – Memorials that passed the House
155 – Features, Quick Reads, opinion pieces tagged “NM Legislature” NM Political Report published between Jan.