Speaker names panel to examine impeachment of Duran

The leader of the House of Representatives named ten members to a panel that will look into the possible impeachment of Secretary of State Dianna Duran. Speaker of the House Don Tripp, R-Socorro, named five Democrats and five Republicans to the panel tasked with examining evidence against Duran and examine possible impeachment. Duran is facing possible impeachment, which in turn could lead to removal from office, for allegations that she moved campaign funds into personal accounts. The 64 charges from Attorney General Hector Balderas were filed in late August. The ten names on the committee are:

Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque
Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque
Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso
Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque
Kelly Fajardo, R-Belen
Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque
Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque
Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque
Tomás Salazar, D-Las Vegas
Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces

Chasey and Cook will be the co-chairs of the panel.

NM swims against criminal justice reform tide

The aftermath of a heinous crime that saw a career criminal kill a Rio Rancho police officer is sparking talk of tougher crime laws. Next week, state lawmakers in the interim Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee will hear testimony on a bill to add crimes to New Mexico’s existing “three strikes” law, which assigns mandatory life in prison sentences to convicts of three violent crimes. Yet the local legislative doubling down on “tough on crime” laws—two Republican state representatives are proposing changes that would tighten New Mexico’s three strikes law—comes at a time with strong national momentum in the opposite direction. And it’s Republicans with national ambitions that, in many cases, have been making headlines for this. “Former [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry is going around the country bragging that he closed three prisons,” said state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who supports criminal justice reform.

Driver’s licenses repeal heads to House floor

Sharp partisan lines were drawn yet again during further passage of a bill proposing to do away with the state law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. The House Judiciary Committee’s Republican majority voted 7 to 6 in favor of sending HB 32 on for a House floor vote following five hours of debate that frequently circled back to the controversial federal REAL ID Act. A measure sponsored by Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, also proposes to not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. It was held over until the next committee meeting. Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, helped craft the House Judiciary Committee’s early-morning substitution for HB 32.

NM Democratic lawmaker apologizes for Holocaust reference, Republican says it’s not enough

A Democrat who made inflammatory remarks during a hearing on legislation related to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants apologized on Friday. Minority Caucus Chair Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, apologized for comments she made a day prior in a committee meeting. During the meeting, Roybal Caballero compared the proposed legislation to the Holocaust. During her apology, she said her party is committed to the issues. “I regret my reference to the Holocaust made yesterday during a committee debate.

Driver’s license debate includes references to Holocaust, terrorists

Emotions boiled over tonight in a House committee before the passage of two bills proposing to undo state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. The Civil Affairs and Public Safety Committee passed both measures, voting 5 to 4 along party lines, with Republicans backing the bills and Democrats opposing. Tensions in the room ran especially high when Democratic legislators presented their comments. Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, referenced segregation in her remarks. She said HB 39, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, would create a “totally unfair” distinction between children of legal citizens and children of undocumented immigrants.

Marijuana legislation coming despite long odds

There are a several topics that seem to come up repeatedly during New Mexico’s legislative session. For the past few years, one of those topics is legislation related to marijuana. In 2007, then-governor Bill Richardson signed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act which made medical marijuana legal in New Mexico. In 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, some New Mexico lawmakers have been watching New Mexico’s neighbor to the north to see what lessons, if any, can be learned.

A second look at what’s been filed so far

New Mexico’s Legislative session starts in about four days and state lawmakers are still busy prefiling legislation. New Mexico Political Report previously looked at early bills regarding driver’s licenses, minimum wage and right to work legislation. Since then, duplicate bills were filed regarding some of those issues. Here’s a look at what has been filed in January so far.  Schools
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, filed a joint resolution this month that aims to limit class sizes by the 2022-2023 school year.