Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill on Tuesday that child welfare advocates have said will be a game changer in New Mexico. HB 291 expands tax credits for families. Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, was the lead sponsor of the bill. The new law makes the tax code more equitable than it was before, New Mexico Voices for Children Executive Director James Jimenez previously told NM Political Report. Related: State and federal child tax credits improve equity for children of color in the state
Jimenez said New Mexico’s tax policies are “regressive,” which means that those who make the least pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes.
With more than 500 pieces of anti-abortion legislation under consideration in state legislatures around the country, New Mexico’s passage of SB 10, which decriminalized abortion, bucked the nationwide trend. Only one other state passed abortion rights legislation this year. Because the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to consider and rule on an unconstitutional abortion ban in the next few years, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains President and Chief Executive Officer Vicki Cowart called the passage and signing of New Mexico’s bill to repeal an abortion ban “critical,” and a “key to protecting reproductive rights.”
Related: Governor signs bill repealing abortion ban into law: ‘a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body’
Cowart told NM Political Report by email that this year, Virginia is the only other state that has passed a bill expanding abortion access in 2021. But since the beginning of the year, 12 states have passed anti-abortion legislation, according to a Planned Parenthood report. There are a few other states with pro-reproductive legislation under consideration, Robin Marty, author of “Handbook for a Post-Roe America” and “The End of Roe v. Wade,” said.
Tax credits that recently passed the New Mexico Legislature and the U.S. Congress will improve child poverty and equity issues, according to child welfare advocates. The New Mexico Legislature passed HB 291, a bill that will raise revenue by about $5 million annually, said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. The bill, whose lead sponsor was Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, improves the state’s Working Family Tax Credit and the Low Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate, he said. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office still has to sign the bill. Her office is reviewing the measures the Legislature passed, spokesperson Nora Meyers Sackett told NM Political Report.
Democrats, newly in control of Congress and the White House, are united behind an idea that Republican lawmakers and major drugmakers fiercely oppose: empowering the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of brand-name drugs covered by Medicare. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. But they do not have enough votes without Republican support in the Senate for the legislation they hope will lower the price consumers pay for prescription drugs. That raises the possibility that Democrats will use a legislative tactic called reconciliation, as they did to pass President Joe Biden’s covid relief package, or even eliminate the Senate filibuster to keep their promise to voters.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined a handful of governors and mayors in a meeting to discuss COVID-19 relief with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the White House. Biden praised the mayors and governors and said “these are the folks that are on the ground dealing with it every single, solitary day.”
Lujan Grisham responded to the meeting in a statement. “I was humbled to represent New Mexicans in the Oval Office this afternoon and to advocate for the direct aid our businesses, front-line workers, local governments and tribal governments desperately need. President Biden made it very clear to me directly: His government wants New Mexico to succeed in our struggle against COVID-19 and he and his administration are fighting in Congress to get New Mexicans every resource we need as part of our ongoing economic recovery after this year of crisis.”
The president emphasized the importance of getting vaccines out to Americans. “But equally consequential is that we need to help the states economically in terms of unemployment to being able to ensure they’re able to get back to schools, what role the federal government should play in helping getting that done,” Biden said.
A virtual reproductive-justice rally to underscore the importance of repealing the 1969 abortion ban in the state took place Monday. Because of the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Respect New Mexico Women, a coalition of organizations dedicated to reproductive justice, held the rally virtually to ensure safety during the pandemic. An assortment of advocates, experts, supporters and lawmakers spoke from their individual locations to talk about why repealing the 1969 ban that would outlaw abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court guts or overturns Roe v. Wade is crucial to healthcare. Related: New Mexico’s 1969 abortion law was one in a long line of laws restricting access
There were calls to action and two Albuquerque Democratic legislators, state Sen. Linda Lopez and state state Rep. Georgene Louis, of the Acoma Pueblo, spoke about why they are sponsoring the Senate and House bills. Lopez said “every pregnancy is unique and complex.”’
“Making a decision not to continue a pregnancy is very difficult and very personal,” she said.
At 10:00 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, former Vice President Joe Biden officially became President of the United States. Minutes earlier, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Biden. It was a more subdued and smaller inauguration ceremony than those of years past, because of COVID-19 protocols. And law enforcement and members of the National Guard surrounded the inauguration over possible threats from the far-right, which did not materialize. It’s under this banner, along with facing an increasingly bleak pandemic, economic problems and a myriad of other challenges, that Biden will take the reins of the country.
The Joe Biden administration is expected to propose legislation that could forge a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, including undocumented residents in New Mexico. President Biden released a fact sheet on his first day of office detailing an immigration bill that the nonprofit organization New Mexico Dream Team calls “one of the boldest and most progressive immigration bills in our history.”
Felipe Rodriguez, co-director of New Mexico Dream Team, told NM Political Report that there are around 7,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients in the state and that is “just a fraction of the immigrant population” in New Mexico. Biden’s proposal would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the U.S. It would also expedite a 3-year pathway to citizenship to undocumented youth, farm workers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders who migrated from specifically designated countries involved in armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions. Another important feature of Biden’s proposed legislation is what it doesn’t include, Rodriguez said. “It’s very common for immigration bills to contain money for enforcement and border militarization,” Rodriguez said.
On Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency over “likely” riots at the state capitol and other government buildings this weekend and through next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The governor cited last week’s “violent insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol and “credible intelligence that threats of similar riots exist and are likely to occur at the capitol building and other prominent government buildings in all 50 states either before or on January 20, 2021.”
The declaration directs the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to direct the response and the Adjutant General of the New Mexico National Guard “to order into service any element of the New Mexico National Guard as may be needed to provide military support to civil authorities.”
Earlier this week, the FBI warned in an internal bulletin that some protesters are planning on “storming” all 50 state capitols, the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. and other government buildings including courthouses between now and Jan. 20. New Mexico leaders told NM Political Report earlier this week that they are preparing for such a protest, as the first day of the New Mexico legislative session and Biden’s inauguration next week. The FBI bulletin, according to ABC News, advised that local and state law enforcement beef up operations.
President-elect Joe Biden will name Deb Haaland as his nominee to head the U.S. Department of the Interior, according to a report by the Washington Post on Thursday, ending weeks of rumors and pushes by various factions in the form of anonymous quotes and leaks. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold the key position regarding public lands and environmental issues throughout the country. Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, one of New Mexico’s 23 federally recognized tribes and pueblos. Tribes have long had tensions with the Interior Department, over things like oil and gas drilling. As for Haaland, she—and other members of the congressional delegation—were behind a push to protect land around Chaco Canyon from oil and gas development.