A bill aspiring to update the statute on procedures for filling legislative vacancies was unanimously approved in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday. HB 538 is sponsored by committee chairwoman D. Wonda Johnson, a Democrat from Albuquerque. The bill was presented by Rep. Janelle Anyononu, D-Albuquerque and state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, presented the bill. “This essentially codifies what is done 90 percent of the time. It does not apply to rural counties.
The state House of Representatives voted to pass a bill expanding voting rights in New Mexico 41-26 following three hours of a far-reaching debate. HB 4 seeks to expand automatic voter registration, restore released convicted felons’ right to vote, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act. “There are threats to our sacred right to vote in this country. In this country, the franchise is a birthright or it’s the right of naturalized citizens of this country. It’s not a privilege.
State Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, D-Gallup, teared up as she told her colleagues on the interim legislative Indian Affairs Committee and the Rural Economic Opportunities Task Force about the Church Rock uranium spill of 1979. Johnson was a member of a panel presenting to the committees about the economic development potential of cleaning up uranium sites in New Mexico. The panelists asked legislators to encourage the New Mexico Economic Development Department to make environmental remediation one of the target industries in New Mexico. In addition, the panelists said it is important to train New Mexicans —especially those who live in impacted communities —to work in remediation. Johnson recalled standing on the porch with her grandmother as her grandmother looked out at her land, homestead, livestock and farm while the uranium waste flowed down the Rio Puerco.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday threw her support behind legislation establishing a state office of outdoor recreation, which an unlikely coalition of backers say would boost an industry they view as key to diversifying New Mexico’s economy. The newly elected Democrat did not just put her political muscle behind the idea, either. She put her calf muscles behind it, bicycling from the governor’s mansion to the Capitol in a show of support for Senate Bill 462. “Montana, you’re done. We’ve got it all right here,” Lujan Grisham later told reporters.
The Secretary of State disqualified former State Rep. Sandra Jeff from the ballot for the Democratic primary in Senate District 22. A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office confirmed via email Wednesday afternoon that Jeff was disqualified from the ballot “due to noncompliance with the Campaign Reporting Act.”
Amy Bailey, the general counsel of the department, later added more information. “I need to review the file for specifics, but the noncompliance is associated with reports which were due in past filing periods and the fines associated with those past issues,” Bailey said in an email. Jeff said in a phone interview on Wednesday that she was aware and was deciding whether or not to contest the disqualification. She described herself as undecided on whether or not to continue her run for State Senate.
A bill that would allow judges to deny bail on certain offenders has passed its first House committee on party lines. Sponsored by state Rep. David Adkins, R-Albuquerque, the measure would allow voters to approve or reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would let judges deny bail to offenders to “protect the safety of any other person or the community.”
The House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee passed the bill on a 4-3 vote. Jeff Clayton, a policy director for the American Bail Coalition, said the bill would only affect the “worst of the worst.”
“We’re talking about somebody who is dangerous who is going to flee and be dangerous,” Clayton said. Among supporters of the bill were members of the bail bond industry, the state Department of Public Safety and Julie Benner, widow of Rio Rancho officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner. Most who opposed the bill mentioned their support of a similar measure by state Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]THIS PIECE is signed by Democratic Representatives: Rep. Stephanie Maez, Albuquerque; Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, Church Rock; Rep. G. Andres Romero, Rep. Javier Martinez, Rep. Pat Ruiloba and Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Albuquerque; Rep. Bealquin Gomez, La Mesa; and Rep. Matthew McQueen, Santa Fe.[/box]
As newly-elected House Democrats, we are working to ensure New Mexicans have the security they need to get a quality education, pay their bills, and provide for their families. When New Mexicans work hard and play by the rules, they deserve to have the opportunity to succeed. We understand this and will fight to make sure New Mexican families have the tools they need to thrive. That’s why we’re working to create better paying jobs, investing in our children’s education, helping our young people go to college, and making sure that hard work is rewarded. While we expect challenges over the next 60 days, we are steadfast in our commitment to ensure that New Mexico’s families have the tools they need to succeed.