State launches early childcare education tool for families

The state launched a new tool to help families find childcare last week. The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department launched the online tool to assist parents looking for child care options, according to a news release. The Child Care Finder website takes recent data from the state and populates the information into profiles for each child care program. ECECD’s Child Care Finder is available at: https://childcare.ececd.nm.gov/search 

Early child care providers can customize their profiles and families can search for programs using various parameters, including zip code, age range, availability, quality rating, tuition and language. “This is such a good resource and communication tool, both for families and child care providers,” said JoEllen Bellington, Director of Fuzzy Slipper Family Child Care through the release.

Legislature expected to consider Paid Family & Medical Leave bill in 2023

A bill likely to come before the New Mexico Legislature next session will be another run at passing a state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave program into law but in 2023, the program will have some concessions to businesses as well as new expansions. Tracy McDaniel, policy advocate for Southwest Women’s Law Center, said a bill is expected to be introduced in  the 2023 legislative session. A Paid Family and Medical Leave bill failed in the 2020 and 2021 Legislatures. The 2022 Legislature passed a Senate Memorial to create a task force that would deliver a report on the issue and arrive at some compromises with the business community. A Paid Family and Medical Leave bill would provide up to 12 weeks of paid time off for employees who request it for a serious medical condition, caring for a family member with a serious medical condition or welcoming a new child.

Otero County Sheriff David Black removes the microphone from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin during a heated exchange at the regular Otero County Commission meeting November 10, 2022.

Couy Griffin confronts DuBois over appointment, derails meeting

Former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin caused a fuss at the Otero County Commission meeting last week when his time at the public comment table became so heated, one of the sitting county commissioners plans to file a restraining order against Griffin. Griffin was unhappy that Stephanie DuBois, a Democrat, was appointed to his old seat after Griffin was removed from office based on the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause after his conviction related to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C.

“I’m going to have to do what I’m going to have to do,” DuBois said Monday. 

DuBois deemed Griffin’s rant as a verbal assault and is in the process of filing a restraining order against Griffin. “Couy Griffin, duly elected and legitimate county commissioner of District 2 as well as founder of Cowboys for Trump and I’d like to just start out by saying looking up here at you Stephanie (DuBois) in that seat is a total disgrace,” Griffin declared. 

Griffin said that he felt DuBois’ appointment was disgraceful because she has run for office in Otero County eight times including in last week’s election and has lost each time. DuBois interjected and Griffin said that “I’m talking right now.

Governor to travel to Egypt for UN climate conference

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will be traveling to Egypt on Friday to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27. The governor has made climate change a central issue and this will not be her first time attending the international conference. Last year she spoke at the U.S. Climate Action Center as part of the Cut Methane panel alongside White House national climate advisor Gina McCarthy, U.N. Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg and others. Lujan Grisham is a part of the U.S. Climate Alliance and environmental groups are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to model methane rules after the rules developed in New Mexico as a result of an executive order Lujan Grisham issued. 

COP27 began on Sunday. Lujan Grisham plans to attend the second week of the climate conference.

Legislator: Democrats have ‘crucial’ time to pass reproductive legislation

With Democrats maintaining a large lead in the state House of Representatives and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham reelected for another four years, the Legislature is in a position to pass reproductive rights legislation, according to a Democratic legislator. State Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, called the next two years “crucial” to passing reproductive rights legislation. She said her focus is on expanding access to reproductive healthcare. “This election spoke volumes. We have a majority female House and a governor who supports bodily autonomy.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a Democratic Party rally in Albuquerque on November 3, 2022.

Michelle Lujan Grisham wins a second-term after bruising campaign

Tuesday night ended with incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham winning reelection to the governor’s office. “Tonight, New Mexico said yes – yes to hope, yes to growth, yes to fighting for our neighbors, not against them,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release. “Tonight New Mexico said yes to equal justice under the law, New Mexico said yes to economic opportunity for all, New Mexico said yes to more health care for families, better education for kids and more economic freedom for workers and students.” The expensive campaign featured millions of dollars of ads on each side, with attack ads blanketing airwaves and mailers filling inboxes for weeks. Lujan Grisham spoke about protecting abortion access, while Ronchetti campaigned on crime, saying it was out of control in the state.

FiveThirtyEight predicts Lujan Grisham, Herrell favored to win reelection

The two biggest races in the 2022 General Election are the governor’s race and Congressional District 2. Poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight predicts that incumbents Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican, will win reelection Nov. 8. FiveThirtyEight has an election breakdown of when to expect election results and a forecasting model that shows based on polls how contenders may do once ballots are counted. The Deluxe version “simulates the election 40,000 times to see who wins most often,” Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejía say in the FiveThirtyEight project.

President Joe Biden speaks at a New Mexico Democratic rally November 3, 2022.

Biden stumps for Lujan Grisham in ABQ stop

Five days ahead of Election Day, President Joe Biden visited Albuquerque in a stump stop for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s re-election. The visit came during the New Mexico Democratic Party rally at the Ted M. Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque and amid an extremely close race against Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti. “I tell you what, that governor, she’s something else, isn’t she?” Biden said, referring to Lujan Grisham who spoke before him at the rally. “She’s the real deal.”

Lujan Grisham entered the stage to cheers of “MLG! MLG!” by the crowd of about 300 people at the venue.

How a new governor could impact reproductive policy

If Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti wins election, he can still impact reproductive rights policy, even without being able to pass his priorities through the Legislature with Democratic majorities. Ronchetti has campaigned on an anti-abortion policy. During the Republican primary, his campaign website said he believed “life should be protected – at all stages.” In a commercial in September he said, that if elected, he would support a voter referendum on banning abortion after 15 weeks. But in July, Albuquerque megachurch pastor Steve Smothermon said Ronchetti told him privately that, if elected, Ronchetti still intended to ban abortion. Ronchetti’s campaign denied it. 

Related: Pastor says Ronchetti would seek to ban abortion

Smothermon reiterated the claim to his congregation in October, saying that “he told me exactly what I said.”

Ronchetti’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump endorses Ronchetti, Biden to campaign for Lujan Grisham

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti on a social media account this week. “(Ronchetti) will be tough & smart on Crime, the Border and everything else!” the post stated. 

“Mark is supported by people from all walks of life and all different viewpoints – including Democratic sheriffs, former Libertarian presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and now former President Trump,” Ronchetti campaign spokesman Ryan Sabel said. 

The statement included some statements about New Mexico during Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s term as governor. “With crime at record levels and just 1 in 5 students learning at grade level, it’s not hard to see that, as governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham has made things worse and New Mexico needs to go in a different – and better – direction,” Sabel said. Lujan Grisham reacted to the Trump endorsement with a statement of her own. “Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mark Ronchetti emphasizes the clear choice in this race: I will keep delivering on the issues that matter to New Mexico families, while Mark Ronchetti would bring Donald Trump’s extreme national Republican policies to New Mexico,” the incumbent said.