Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation touted federal legislation like the American Rescue Plan Act while speaking to the state Legislature on Monday. U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Teresa Leger Fernández and Gabe Vasquez, all Democrats, addressed a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature Monday. “I want to start by thanking you for your partnership, for your collaboration and for your leadership,” Heinrich said. “We have faced extraordinary challenges over the last few years and yet we have accomplished so much together to directly improve New Mexico’s future from passing legislation to provide paid leave for all workers to raising teachers wages to taking on predatory lenders and building a more equitable revenue base.
Sen. Martin Heinrich’s guest for President Joe Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address held Tuesday evening during a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol building was a reproductive justice leader in New Mexico. Heinrich invited Charlene Bencomo, a Chicana New Mexican and executive director of Las Cruces-based Bold Futures, to be his special guest at the State of the Union address. Heinrich said through a news release that he chose Bencomo “in part to recognize her advocacy and deep commitment in New Mexico to build communities where women, people and families can live and thrive with respect and dignity, but also to underscore the work that still lies ahead.”
“Charlene is a lifelong New Mexican and a driving force for change. She uses her work and life experiences to educate, inspire, and inform others. Her leadership has been central to reproductive rights advancements in our state and across the country.
The U.S. House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that protects same sex and interracial marriage, on Thursday. The bill previously passed the U.S. Senate. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it. He has expressed his support, saying “love is love,” in a previous statement. The U.S. Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support, with 61 to 36 votes last week when 12 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for its passage.
With a vote of 61 to 36, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act five months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Since the court overturned the 1973 landmark decision, LGBTQ advocates have expressed concern that the court would use similar logic to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. The court’s majority made the argument when overturning Roe in its Dobbs decision that the 14th amendment does not explicitly include a right to bodily autonomy. But since 1965, the court has ruled in various decisions that the amendment can be interpreted that it does. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion to the Dobbs decision, said the court should revisit prior court opinions that rest on the 14th amendment, including Obergefell v. Hodges.
A group of six U.S. Senators, led by Senator Martin Heinrich, signed a letter urging the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to terminate its contract with CoreCivic for its operation of the Torrance County Detention Facility. The Democrats’ letter is in response to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General follow-up report in September that ICE had not fully addressed 10 of the 14 OIG recommendations to improve conditions at the facility. The OIG report recommended the detainees be relocated from the facility. This is the second time this year the OIG has made that recommendation. In March, the OIG released its initial report, based on a surprise visit in February, recommending the immediate relocation of detainees due to “inhumane” conditions.
Slightly more likely voters disapprove of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance than approve, according to a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report. The poll found that 46 percent of voters approved of her job performance and 49 percent disapproved. Another 6 percent said they were not sure. This is a drop from a NM Political Report poll in June, which found 48 percent approved and an equal percentage disapproved of her job performance.
Related: Lujan Grisham leads governor’s race by 8 points
Lujan Grisham is in the midst of a reelection campaign against former meteorologist and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Ronchetti. The poll found that 39 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Ronchetti, while 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 15 percent said they were not sure.
South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, introduced legislation on Tuesday intended to create a federal 15-week ban on abortion with few exceptions. Senate Democrats and reproductive advocates and experts denounced Graham’s efforts to ban abortion at the federal level at 15 weeks gestation. If the bill becomes law, it would not supersede states with greater restrictions, but it would restrict abortion in states, such as New Mexico, where there are currently no restrictions on abortion.
While Graham’s bill would allow exceptions for incest, rape and maternal health, doctors in states with abortion bans already in place are often uncertain of what medically constitutes exceptions for maternal health. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, told NM Political Report through email that this bill takes away “American’s rights to make their own pregnancy decisions” and that it “is dangerous and needs to be defeated.”
U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, told NM Political Report through email that “you can bet Democrats are going to fight this ridiculous attempt for a national ban on abortion from the GOP.”
In July the nonpartisan fact tank, Pew Research Center reported that 62 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In addition, 57 percent, or six-in-ten adults, disapproved of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
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.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday morning, creating what individuals working on the front lines of reproductive access in New Mexico called a “public health emergency” during a press conference Friday afternoon. Farinaz Khan, a healthcare provider, said every abortion clinic in four states closed by Friday morning. “As women and people with uteruses, we are second class citizens in our own country. Our patients will be deeply harmed by this decision,” she said. Many during the press conference stressed that abortion is, and will remain, legal and safe in New Mexico.
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.