The House Education Committee unanimously passed a bill that will, if enacted, make menstrual products free in the public and charter schools in New Mexico. HB 134, sponsored by House Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, appropriates $3 million from the general fund to the New Mexico Public Education Department to provide free menstrual products in the public schools and charter schools. The funds will be recurring but the Fiscal Impact Report states that the biggest cost would be the dispensers placed in the bathrooms, rather than the products. Once schools have bought and installed the dispensers, the program might require less money over time, the report says. The FIR also says that while 20 percent of teenagers, nationally, have difficulty affording menstrual products, that number rises to 25 percent for Hispanic teenagers.
Albuquerque Police detectives found what they think may be illegally obtained campaign contributions while investigating Solomon Peña and the shootings he allegedly masterminded. “APD detectives learned through witness interviews related to the shooting investigation that Peña identified individuals to funnel contributions from an unknown source to his legislative campaign,” an APD news release states. “Detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine whether the money for the campaign contributions was generated from narcotics trafficking and whether campaign laws were violated.”
Campaign finances are regulated under the Campaign Reporting Act, or CRA, which is under the State Ethics Commission’s purview. “Presently, our office is reviewing the matter for CRA violations,” State Ethics Commission spokeswoman Suha Musa said via email. “If the Commission takes action in this matter, it will do so at a public meeting.”
The Campaign Reporting Act dictates how campaign funding can be used.
Legislators plan on introducing at least three LGBTQ-related bills in the upcoming legislative session, including one that would amend the New Mexico Human Rights Act. New Mexico Human Rights Act
Written in the 1960s, the New Mexico Human Rights Act could use a language update, according to Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, a nonprofit that serves the LGBTQ community. One of the things the bill will bring, if passed, will be updated definitions of gender identity, gender and sexual orientation. “We’re crafting broad, expansive definitions to make sure this covers every person in New Mexico,” Martinez said. The second thing the bill will do is close what Martinez called “a loophole” that has always existed in the New Mexico Human Rights Act.
On Monday, the Bernalillo County Commission named an Albuquerque educator to the state House District 16 seat. Yanira Gurrola, a Democrat, has taught for 22 years and has a degree in electronic industrial engineering. She is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, and has lived in District 16 for more than 14 years. Gurrola is a bilingual math, technology and gifted teacher who served at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque as a bilingual coordinator, math department chair and union representative. Currently, she works for Dual Language Education of New Mexico where she gives training and support to teachers and public school districts inside and outside New Mexico.
State Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, reported shots were fired at his home in December. Martinez is the likely incoming state House Speaker. Following last week’s reports of five high-ranking Albuquerque Democratic politicians’ homes or offices being shot at, Martinez looked over his home, an Albuquerque Police Department news release states. “He discovered damage presumably from gunfire heard in early December outside his Albuquerque home. APD detectives went to the home and located evidence of a shooting,” the news release states.
The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint kindergarten teacher Marsella Duarte to fill the vacancy in state House District 16 at a special meeting Wednesday. The appointment lasts until the end of the term, which is Dec. 31 of this year. Duarte was one of seven applicants in attendance at the meeting. Duarte is a lifelong resident of the district, which covers portions of Albuquerque’s Westside along Coors Boulevard from Central Avenue to Montaño Road.
On Monday, the NM Legislative Finance Committee released its Consensus Revenue Estimate for fiscal year 2024 which begins July 1, 2023. The projected revenue for FY 2024 is $11.994 billion. Legislators will craft a budget based on these numbers in the upcoming legislative session that starts in January, including how much to include in reserves for any possible future budget shortfall. “The December forecast indicates New Mexico is still in a solid position fiscally,” Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke said. “The strong revenues we’ve seen over the past couple of years allowed us to deliver significant tax relief to New Mexicans and still maintain historically high reserves to protect against unforeseen shocks.”
The New Mexico Department of Health will request $2 million for the family planning and women’s reproductive health services from the New Mexico Legislature to replace reductions in federal funds to maintain current family planning services. The $2 million is part of an 11 percent increase DOH is requesting from the Legislature in 2023. According to a news release, DOH is asking for the increase in its Fiscal Year 2024 budget request due to the “massive disruption” the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. The funds will replace reductions in federal funds and will maintain, rather than increase, current family planning services, according to the release. Other DOH budget priorities include $5.8 million additional funding for School-Based Health Centers to expand services to include primary care, behavioral health and suicide prevention for the 25,073 students who attend 70 rural and Tribal community schools.
The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint New Mexico State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas to the state Senate seat recently vacated by Jacob Candelaria Tuesday night. Maestas was one of seven applicants for the seat. Other applicants included Julie Radoslovich, Steve Gallegos and Em Ward. “I want to thank every member of the public that came both in-person and on Zoom to participate in both tonight’s regular meeting and the appointment for Senate District 26,” Bernalillo County Commission Chairwoman Adriann Barboa said. “We received hundreds of emails about this and public participation is a crucial part of a healthy democracy.”
Barboa said that the County received 66 emails supporting Radoslovich, who was principal at South Valley Academy, 46 emails supporting Maestas and 14 supporting Ward with a few other emails supporting the other contenders.
The commission approved Maestas on a 3-to-2 vote with Barboa and Debbie O’Malley as the votes against.
The Bernalillo County Commission is looking for applicants for the vacant District 26 New Mexico State Senate seat. The Bernalillo County Manager’s Office will accept applications through noon Nov. 10. The Commission is expected to discuss and possibly make a decision for who to appoint for the District 26 Senate seat at its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.