Senator Luján, HHS Secretary Becerra talk mental health in Las Cruces 

Democratic U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra listened to youth behavioral health professionals at a roundtable discussion held on Wednesday at Arrowhead Early College High School in Las Cruces. Luján and Becerra both made general remarks but mostly listened to the local professionals talk about challenges they see facing youth in New Mexico. Dan Green, the state survey epidemiologist supervisor, said that according to 2019 data, 40.4 percent of New Mexico children experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. He said that is higher than national trends. According to the 2019 data, 50.7 percent of girls in New Mexico were likely to experience sadness or hopelessness compared to 30.3 percent of New Mexico boys.

Inflation Reduction Act does not extend federal Child Tax Credit

The Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that narrowly passed the U.S. Senate over the weekend, does not extend the federal Child Tax Credit. The federal Child Tax Credit, which became available to qualifying families through the American Rescue Plan Act, provided up to $3,000 per child per year for families with children under the age of 6. For families with children ages 6 to 16, the tax credit available was $3,600 per child per year. The funds could also be accessed monthly, instead of as a lump sum. Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the policy lifted over 30,000 New Mexico children over the poverty line.

What can Biden’s executive order to protect reproductive access actually accomplish

President Joe Biden’s executive order to protect reproductive rights and care announced earlier this month can only do so much without Congressional budgetary support. The order directs federal agencies, particularly the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] to safeguard access to abortion care and contraception, protect the privacy of patients, promote the safety and security of both patients and providers and to coordinate federal efforts to protect reproductive access and rights. But, Biden’s ability to affect change on the current state of abortion care now that the court has overturned Roe v. Wade is “handcuffed” by a lack of action from the U.S. Congress, Noreen Farrell, attorney and executive director with the nonprofit Equal Rights Advocates, told NM Political Report. “Obviously, there’s some congressional handcuffs on the scope and impact of executive action,” Farrell said. Farrell called the order “a plan to make a plan.”

A few days after Biden’s order, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued guidance that states that providers must continue to follow the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a federal law that requires that all patients receive an examination, stabilizing treatment and transfer, if necessary, as needed, irrespective of state laws that apply to specific procedures.

Biden issues executive order to protect reproductive care

President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday to protect reproductive care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month. Amid cries among progressives that Biden should take steps to protect abortion with measures such as expanding the court or provide abortion on federal land, Biden said during a press conference on Friday that his authority to counter the court’s decision was limited. But he raised his voice in anger when describing a recent news story about a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to travel out of state for a legal abortion in Indiana due to a resulting pregnancy. Biden stressed that the U.S. Congress needs to pass the Women’s Health Protective Act to protect abortion care. The U.S. House passed the bill but Republicans in the U.S. Senate have filibustered it.

Guv talks about New Mexico reproductive rights with Biden

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other Democratic governors met virtually with President Joe Biden on Friday to discuss what Democratic-led states are doing to protect abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the federal constitutional right to abortion care. This means that some states hostile to abortion have already banned abortion through trigger laws while other states will soon follow. New Mexico, along with several others, are states where abortion remains safe and legal. But a patchwork of states where abortion patients can seek care is likely to create a public healthcare crisis, many on the front lines of abortion care have said. 

Biden convened the virtual meeting on Friday with several Democratic-led state governors to discuss what each of those states have done to protect reproductive rights.

U.S. Supreme Court says Biden has authority to end anti-immigration policy

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Joe Biden has the authority to end the Trump-era immigration policy forbidding asylum seekers from entering the U.S.

On its final day of the 2020-2021 term, the Supreme Court agreed with Biden in Biden v. Texas that he has the authority to end former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, also known as the Migration Protection Protocols. The policy has prevented asylum seekers from entering the U.S.

Biden is still fighting, separately, the ability to end Title 42, which put controls on asylum seekers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump issued that policy in the spring of 2020, saying at the time that he was protecting human health. The Biden administration has tried to lift Title 42 this year but a Louisiana federal court blocked the move in May. Biden entered office in 2021 saying he would end Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy but states have blocked his attempt through court action.

Biden amends disaster declaration for wildfire, increasing time for NM to receive federal assistance

President Joe Biden authorized an increase in federal funds available to New Mexico in light of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, which was sparked by U.S. Forest Service prescribed burns. The additional funding available through the disaster declaration that was amended on Monday will help with debris removal and emergency protective measures that the state of New Mexico has taken. 

When the original declaration was issued on May 4, it set the federal government’s share at 75 percent of total eligible costs for measures taken during the first 90 days of the incident period. That was amended on June 11 to increase the federal share to 100 percent of total eligible costs. Monday’s amendment changes the time limit. It now states that eligible expenses that occur within 90 days of the original declaration can receive federal funds, instead of the first 90 days of the incident period.

Biden expands LGTBQIA+ rights in sweeping executive order

President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this month to expand equality for LGBTQIA+ individuals. The order is sweeping and involves several different federal agencies. It says that while the U.S. has advanced LGBTQIA+ rights in significant ways, much still needs to be done, particularly for transgender individuals and LGBTQIA+ individuals of color. Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, said this is the “first time a sitting president has made such clear statements about queer and trans people.”

“It’s definitely a refreshing break from what we’ve been hearing and seeing so much of,” Martinez said. There has been an uptick of anti-trans bills introduced into state legislatures in recent years, according to LGTBQIA+ advocates.

Slight majority of voters give thumbs up to Gov on COVID response

A slight majority of voters support Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while a slight plurality say the same about President Joe Biden according to a poll commissioned by NM Political Report. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 51 percent of voters approve of the job Lujan Grisham has done in handling the ongoing pandemic, while 46 percent disapproved. The same amount disapproved of President Joe Biden’s job performance on the pandemic, though just 48 percent said they approved. The approval largely fell along partisan lines, with 81 percent of Democrats approving of Biden’s handling of the pandemic compared to 10 percent who disapproved, while 86 percent of Republicans disapproved of the handling of the pandemic and 12 percent approved. Among independent voters, 61 percent disapproved, while 33 percent approved.

Poll: Lujan Grisham even approval/disapproval ratings

Just under 50 percent of New Mexico voters approve of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance according to a recent poll commissioned by NM Political Report. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 48 percent of New Mexico voters approved of her job performance while an equal 48 percent disapproved. Another 5 percent were not sure. The numbers do not add up to 100 percent because of rounding. Lujan Grisham’s approval was higher among women than men, with 54 percent of women approving of her job performance and 54 percent of men disapproving.