House GOP urges Senate to hear crime bills

Some House Republicans gathered on Tuesday to implore Senate leadership to start hearing Republican crime bills that are in Senate committees. Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, a sponsor of a handful of bills to increase penalties on crimes, called out the Senate Democratic leaders for stalling some bills in committee. Members of the Senate majority previously said many of these bills were not given any vetting over appropriations in the House, therefore needed to be vetted by the Senate Finance Committee. “One of the main reasons that the Senate is not moving on any of the crime bills by the House is because they are basically saying there’s not any money for that,” Pacheco said. “I emphatically disagree.”

NM Political Report reached out to Senate Democrats for a comment.

Bill to raise teacher salaries on hold

The Senate Education Committee agreed to hold off on taking any action on a bill that would increase wages for New Mexico teachers. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, would increase minimum salaries for teachers by $2,000 each year for about four years. After inconsistencies in the analysis of the bill, Stewart agreed to make some changes and report back later this week. Stewart told the panel that while she would discuss the nature of the bill, she was uncomfortable with some analysis done by the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC). She said she submitted her bill to the LESC last month and was only recently informed of a large discrepancy in how much the state would be on the hook for teacher and principal raises.

NM GOP chair highlights four Senate targets

Republican Party of New Mexico chair Debbie Maestas outlined four Democratic targets in the party’s quest to take control of the state Senate. Included is the largest thorn in the side of Gov. Susana Martinez, herself a Republican, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen. The Roswell Daily Record reported on comments Maestas made to the Chaves County Republican Women. Maestas said Republicans are targeting the seats of Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, Sen. John Sapien of Corrales, Sen. William Soules of Las Cruces and Sen. Michael Sanchez of Belen. Sapien has already received a challenger, Diego Espinoza.

Republican to challenge Sapien for state Senate seat

A politically connected Republican announced on Wednesday that he will be challenging a state senator in a key swing district next year. Diego Espinoza announced that he will seek the District 9 seat currently held by Democrat John Sapien. Espinoza, a program director for CSI Aviation, has experience in running campaigns, if not his own. Espinoza was the campaign manager for Allen Weh’s unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Senate in 2014 and governor in 2010. Weh owns CSI Aviation and Weh is the father of current Republican Party of New Mexico chairwoman Debbie Maestas.