Has the moment for environmental justice been lost?

Given how President Donald Trump has taken aim at the Environmental Protection Agency with regulatory rollbacks and deep proposed budget cuts, it may come as no surprise that the Office of Environmental Justice is on the chopping block. This tiny corner of the EPA was established 24 years ago to advocate for minorities and the poor, populations most likely to face the consequences of pollution and least able to advocate for themselves. It does so by acting as a middleman, connecting vulnerable communities with those who can help them. It heads a group that advises EPA officials about injustices and another that brings together representatives from other federal agencies and the White House to swap proposals. When it works, all the talk leads to grants, policies and programs that change lives.

Heinrich signs onto prescription drug importation bill

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined with other Senators, including Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, to introduce legislation to allow the importation of some pharmaceuticals from other countries. The senators announced the new legislation Tuesday, and Heinrich said the United States has the safest pharmaceutical system in the world, but also an expensive system. “Details matter and I think this legislation gets the details right,” Heinrich said while announcing his support of the legislation. “I think it preserves the sort of system that has given us the safest pharmaceutical supply in the world while at the same time using a free market, market-based approach to driving down those costs.”

This came more than a month after Heinrich voted against a Sanders-sponsored amendment to a bill that sought to allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. The amendment, backed by many progressives, failed on a 52-48 vote.

Legislators hoping to ‘ban the box’ in NM

A national conversation about criminal justice reform and employing convicted criminals is making its way back to New Mexico. After an unsuccessful attempt to pass legislation that would prohibit asking applicants about past criminal convictions, Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, brought the discussion to an interim legislative committee on Tuesday. O’Neill and Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, fielded questions and concerns from the committee. Rep. Rick Little, R-Chaparral, said he was concerned about the hiring of teachers and faculty who might be working with children. He cited the recent Albuquerque Public School scandal involving a former deputy superintendent.