The New Mexico House of Representatives voted 42-27 late Monday to approve a bill that would expand requirements for instant federal background checks on buyers of firearms in the state. Exceptions would include sales of antique firearms or any sale involving immediate family members. It would not affect transactions involving guns that are loaned, gifted or inherited either. The Senate already had narrowly approved Senate Bill 8, on a vote of 22-20 on Feb. 14, the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting in a high school in Parkland, Fla.
Following a contentious debate, the state House of Representatives late Tuesday voted to approve a bill that would automatically register eligible New Mexicans to vote when they conduct transactions with the Motor Vehicle Division. House Bill 84 includes a provision that allows those citizens to opt out of registering or updating their existing voter registration as they apply for a driver’s license or state identity card. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver spoke in favor of the legislation during a news conference at the Capitol earlier in the day, saying, “When more eligible voters vote, our democracy wins.” She said the bill, if it becomes law, has the potential to increase voter participation by 30 percent, or, according to a fiscal impact report, some 385,000 people. Rep. Debra Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the proposal “would make it more likely that anyone who wants to cast a vote can.”
Members of the state House announced a panel will investigate sexual harassment claims against State Rep. Carl Trujillo. Three of his colleagues have already called on him to resign. The investigative subcommittee, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans from the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee, will work with outside counsel and staff to investigate the allegations by Laura Bonar against the Santa Fe Democrat. Last week, Bonar said that Trujillo sexually harassed her. Trujillo responded by saying the “charges are lies” and withstood calls for him to resign.
A conservation group that makes endorsements each election cycle says one candidate is claiming an endorsement she did not receive. Conservation Voters New Mexico and the related Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund did not make an endorsement in the Democratic primary in House District 21—however, the group did deem two candidates “conservation qualified.” When the group finds two candidates are qualified in a certain race, it does not endorse. This is new, an email from CVNM’s Liliana Castillo said. “Historically, CVNM has simply not endorsed in those races.
One of Albuquerque’s most diverse legislative districts has seen three different representatives in the past two years. Now voters in House District 21 have three choices in the upcoming Democratic primary. No Republicans are running in the race, which means the winner of the June primary will almost certainly be the next representative from the district. Note: This piece also appeared in the May 18 edition of the ABQ Free Press. The game of musical chairs began when Tim Keller, then a state Senator, ran for State Auditor.
A look into one New Mexico House race shows that the candidates updated their voter registration days before an appointment to the state House late last year. All three candidates currently running for state House District 21 previously applied to be appointed in the district. And all three changed their voter registration information days before Bernalillo County commissioners voted on the appointment. The appointment was necessary after Stephanie Maez resigned. All three candidates are Democrats; there are no Republican candidates seeking the position.
The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint Idalia Lechuga-Tena to the House of Representatives to fill a vacant seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives on Tuesday night. Lechuga-Tena, one of three nominees, won by a vote of 3-2. NM Political Report spoke with Lechuga-Tena before the meeting about accusations that she does not live in House District 21 and that she voted when she was not a U.S. citizen in 2003. The vote was swift and there was no discussion from the Commission regarding her qualifications or that she voted in an election before she was a U.S. citizen. Both Republican commissioners, Wayne Johnson and Lonnie Talbert, along with Democrat Art De La Cruz voted in favor of Lechuga-Tena.
Bernalillo County Commissioners will decide who will replace Stephanie Maez in House District 21. The commission is expected to make a decision Tuesday night, according to the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting. Maez resigned from the position in October. Bernalillo County provided NM Political Report with the six applications for the position. Update: The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint Lechuga-Tena during Tuesday night’s meeting. Idalia Lechuga-Tena could be the most high profile, and controversial, of those seeking the position.