2021 Top Stories #1: NM repeals abortion ban

See our entire countdown of 2021 top stories here. New Mexico was one of very few states in 2021 to pass legislation supporting abortion rights. In a year called “hostile” by reproductive rights advocates because of the more than 100 anti-abortion laws passed in other states in 2021, the New Mexico Legislature passed SB 10, the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act. SB 10, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, repealed three sections of criminal code that made abortion illegal in the state. Though currently unenforceable, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, the law would have gone into effect by default if the legislature had not repealed it.

2021 Top Stories #2: COVID continues

See our entire countdown of 2021 top stories, to date, here. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues throughout the country, one thing changed from 2020, when much of the world was first impacted, into 2021: Variants. Scientists kept close track of mutations made to COVID-19 and which variants were considered of concern. 

Some variants were more aggressive in infections than others, most notably the Delta variant, first designated as a variant of interest by the World Health Organization in early April. By May 11, it was called a variant of concern. The more contagious variant quickly became the dominant variant across the globe, including in New Mexico.

2021 Top Stories #4: Drought continues

See our entire countdown of 2021 top stories, to date, here. Gripped by decades-long drought, water managers in New Mexico faced tough choices this year, including ending the irrigation season early. The year’s water woes began in the winter, when below average snowpack, warm temperatures and dry soil conditions limited the spring runoff. On top of that, New Mexico owed water to Texas under the Rio Grande Compact from previous years. In May, the Interstate Stream Commission sought federal financial support from the U.S. Department of the Interior for both long-term and short-term drought relief.

2021 Top Stories #5: Deb Haaland becomes Interior Secretary

See our entire countdown of 2021 top stories, to date, here. A Native American woman took the helm of the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for the first time ever in March after being nominated for the post by President Joe Biden. The U.S. Senate confirmed Deb Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo and native New Mexican, as the Secretary of the Interior on March 15 on a 51 to 40 vote. Related: Haaland confirmed as Interior Secretary

Haaland previously served as a congresswoman representing New Mexico’s First Congressional District. She stepped down from that role upon being confirmed to her new position.

2021 Top Stories: 10-6

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. See our entire countdown of 2021 top stories, to date, here. 10. SCOTUS Supreme Court hearings

 The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in early December on a Mississippi case that challenges Roe v. Wade. Dobbs v. Whole Women’s Health Organization is under consideration.