There are few proposals in New Mexico that will draw quicker opposition than reimposing the food tax. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, introduced such a proposal earlier this week and opponents mobilized quickly. The think tank Think New Mexico made sure the media and their supporters knew about the bill. “Unbelievably, on the final day for bill introductions, Senate Bill 281 was introduced to reimpose the food tax on New Mexico families,” the think tank said in an email to supporters. Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said they were ready if the idea gains traction this year, which he doesn’t expect.
After a marathon hearing, the Senate Public Affairs Committee advanced a driver’s license bill that supporters hope will finally end the problem the state has been facing for years. It didn’t come without controversy, in the form of an extensive amendment to the bill that passed the House, HB 99, to make it essentially a Senate bill, SB 256. It was not a committee substitute, which would require it to go back through committees in the House. But with an amendment, if it were to pass the Senate, then the House and Senate could have a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions. The SPAC amendment passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting for it and Republicans against.
The House Regulatory and Public Affairs passed, along party lines, a Republican driver’s license bill Thursday evening. Sponsors of HB 99, Reps. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch and Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, presented the bill and told the panel that this was their attempt at compromising on the multiple-yearlong issue of whether or not to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Nuñez said since 2010 he’s tried to repeal the state law that allows a person to get a driver’s license without legal documentation of citizenship. “Since then we made a lot of compromises,” Nuñez said.
A New Mexico community health group has launched a campaign this week to draw public attention to poverty and early childhood well being, using a parody of a New Mexico tourism campaign. Catholic Health Initiatives St. Joseph’s Children, a group that has long been vocal on investing more state money into early childhood education, launched their “New Mexico Truth” campaign earlier this week. The campaign’s website and radio use imagery and graphics nearly identical to the New Mexico True campaign from the state’s tourism department. St.
The number of abortions are dropping across the United States regardless of restrictions in each state, according to an Associated Press survey released earlier this week,. Some of the biggest decreases happened in states that have little to no abortion restrictions, including New Mexico. From the AP: Five of the six states with the biggest declines — Hawaii at 30 percent, New Mexico at 24 percent, Nevada and Rhode Island at 22 percent, Connecticut at 21 percent — have passed no recent laws to restrict abortion clinics or providers. The cause of the decline, which occurred over the past five years, isn’t completely clear. Abortion rights advocates attribute the change to more readily available birth control and sex education, while opponents credit the drop to a recent spike in public debate over the issue.
It was announced last month that Pope Francis appointed Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. KRQE reported Michael Sheehan, the current Archbishop, said that Wester would be a good fit for New Mexico. Archbishop Sheehan said Wester was his top pick and said Wester reflects the same spirit and values of Pope Francis. “I think Bishop Wester is a very balanced man. He avoids the extremes of ultra conservative, ultra liberal.
Pope Francis selected John C. Wester as the next Archbishop for the diocese of Santa Fe. Wester was recently the bishop of Salt Lake City. He will replace Archbishop Michael Sheehan, who has to retire after turning 75, in June. In a press conference, Sheehan said, according to the Albuquerque Journal::This appointment was a Pope-Francis kind of appointment, representing the values that the pope himself has,” Sheehan said of Wester. “There were choices.
RUBE RENDER is the Curry County Republican Chairman and a local columnist with the Clovis News Journal. In a recent edition of the “Journal of Medical Ethics” two Oxford University medical ethicists argue that “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
This leads them to the conclusion that parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed, as ending their lives is no different than an abortion. Whenever some print media covers the abortion issue, they always put scare quotes around the “so called” partial-birth abortion. One reason they do this is that to call the killing of a fully formed baby in the birth canal what it actually is would be murder. Several states have passed legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks and the New Mexico Legislature attempted it once again during its just-completed 60-day session.
Two bills seeking limits on abortion are poised for debate in New Mexico’s House of Representatives. A look back at weeks of charged discussions on the issue indicates that under a superficial veneer of two opposing “sides” lies a spectrum of experiences and beliefs, all of which could all play into the ultimate fate of the proposals. Anti-abortion legislation has been proposed session after session in Santa Fe since the passage of Roe v. Wade, but this year, the momentum feels markedly different. After a new Republican majority took the helm in the House for the first time since the 1950s, anti-abortion activists vowed to hold lawmakers’ feet to the fire. Conservative legislators have expressed confidence they can squeeze votes they need from the Democratic-controlled Senate to send abortion restrictions to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for her signature.
Allen Sánchez said lobbyists for other special interests often react with amazement after he stands up to speak in the Roundhouse. “One of them just told me, ‘You just got that legislator really mad!’ And I said, ‘Don’t worry. Before the day is out, he’ll call me to see if I’ll support his bill.'”
As the executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sánchez isn’t like other lobbyists who swarm the Roundhouse every session. For more than 400 years, emissaries of the Catholic Church have exerted influence over New Mexico’s history, culture and politics.