Martin Heinrich was one of 13 Democratic U.S. senators who voted against legislation earlier this week that would have allowed Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries. The measure, a health care reform idea often supported by progressives, came as an amendment to legislation aimed at changing Senate rules to allow majority votes on budget bills. The procedural changes, which the Senate narrowly approved in the early hours of Thursday, are the first step in Republican plans to repeal as much of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as they can. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent senator who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination last year, sponsored the amendment with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota. Senators rejected the amendment on a 52-48 margin, with 12 Republicans casting their votes in favor.
Both U.S. senators from New Mexico voted this week against the first steps the Senate took to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. The Senate vote, held Thursday during early morning hours, changed procedural rules to allow majority votes on so-called reconciliation bills. Such reconciliation bills are limited to actions on the federal budget and are filibuster-proof, meaning they just need 51 votes from senators to pass instead of the usual 60 votes. Republicans plan to use this reconciliation process to repeal as much of the ACA as they can. Sens.
Donald Trump has lagged in support behind Hillary Clinton in New Mexico in all public polls this election season. But the boisterous Republican presidential nominee promised a crowd of roughly 2,500 people he would win the state. The crowd gathered Sunday to hear Trump speak in an airplane hanger just outside of the Albuquerque International Sunport. Related: Small protests greet Trump
“We’re tied—that’s not so good—we’re tied in New Mexico,” Trump told the crowd, echoing a statement last week from one of his campaign advisors on WABC, a New York radio station. “We’re going to win New Mexico.
Though this year’s general election is still six months away, several elections across the state will only be decided in primaries, which will be held June 7. For people not already registered to vote, today is the last day to do so, which they can do in person at their county clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s Office. Absentee voting also begins today, as does voting in person at county clerks’ offices throughout the state. Because New Mexico is a closed primary state, today is the last day for the 19 percent of registered declined-to-state voters to update their registration to either Democrat or Republican if they want to vote in next month’s primaries. Anybody who changes their registration to Democrat or Republican online by 5pm today will be eligible to vote June 7.
A bill that allow the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes was quashed in a House committee Friday morning. All but one member of a House Committee voted to table the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act. Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, presented his HB 160 to the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee. McCamley, who is also a committee member, was the only one from the group to cast a dissenting vote for tabling the bill. Under the proposed legislation, both marijuana and industrial hemp would be regulated and taxed by the state.
A bill that would allow the New Mexico Public Education Commission to become an independent entity was stalled on a 6-6 vote Thursday morning. The bill would separate the commission from the state’s Public Education Department. According to the sponsor of HB 74, Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, the bill would give the commission more power to hire staff and make decisions on approving state chartered schools. The 6-6 vote officially puts the bill into limbo, but it is likely dead for the year. Currently, the PEC provides an advisory role to the Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera.
A high profile bill to hold back third grade students who cannot read at grade level passed the House Education Committee on a party-line vote Tuesday morning. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, presented HB 41 along with her expert witness, Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera. The proposed legislation would require school officials to closely monitor a student’s reading proficiency and retain them if it is not up to grade level by the third grade. Opponents of the bill addressed the committee with their concerns. A common sentiment among those who opposed the bill was that the focus needs to be on intervention and that retention is not the answer.
House Committee members were part of a marathon committee meeting on Thursday that ultimately ended with an 8-5 vote to pass a right-to-work bill. Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, presented his HB 75 to the House Business and Employment Committee in a hearing that lasted nearly five hours. The bill would bar employers from requiring union membership from employees as a term of employment. Along with Roch were Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and his expert witness Paul Gessing, the director of the free-market think tank, the Rio Grande Foundation. Sanchez told the committee he was there on behalf of Gov. Susana Martinez and insisted that right-to-work legislation is not an attempt to disband unions, but instead to help New Mexico workers.
A Republican Senator is considering introducing legislation that would allow farmers in New Mexico to grow hemp for industrial purposes. Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, is looking into the feasibility of growing industrial hemp as a way to supplement money from other crops grown in the state. Woods told New Mexico Political Report in a phone interview that he started looking at the possibility after speaking with New Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte. Woods doesn’t plan on introducing it until he and Witte finalize the details.
“The agreement I made with the Secretary of Agriculture, who has to regulate [the production of hemp] was that I was going to make sure that he agreed with the outline of my bill before it was introduced,” Woods said.
A bill that would allow legalization of marijuana was assigned to five committees on Monday, a fate that ensures it will likely never make to the House floor for a vote. For legislation to make it to the floor of the Senate or House, the bill must first go through the committee process. Any more than two committee assignments usually signals a rough road towards passage for a bill. Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, introduced a bill earlier this month that would allow the legalization of recreational marijuana use. His HB 160 was assigned to five committees, more than double the amount most bills get.