—Uber sent an email to all New Mexico users about the recently-signed law that the ride-hailing company pushed for. You spoke, and your leaders listened. With the stroke of a pen, New Mexico became the latest in a growing list of states to embrace smart ridesharing regulations that support innovation, expand economic opportunity, and put consumer choice and safety first. We’ve been proud to play a role in strengthening New Mexico’s economy while making it easier, safer and more affordable for more people to move around. And we hope you’ll join us in thanking the leaders, including Governor Susana Martinez, Representative Monica Youngblood and Senator Joseph Cervantes, who helped make this day possible.
We’re back after taking Tuesday night off to finish up a recap on filing day. Here are some stories you may have missed, plus what we wrote today. —Federal judge shoots down state food benefit rules. U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales ruled against the latest attempt by the state to impose new work rules on those who receive food benefits, or SNAP. The rules the state imposed required 80 hours per month of approved work activity for able-bodied adults from 18-49 if they wanted to continue to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months
“We are pleased that unemployed adults will not face the illegal loss of food assistance in addition to the economic hardship that many are already facing in New Mexico,” Sovereign Hager, Staff Attorney at the Center on Law and Poverty, said in a statement.
—A Susana Martinez adviser on energy policy said at an energy conference this weekend that the oil and gas market is in a “bust” period. From the Farmington Daily-Times: “This is what a bust is. You lose the workforce,” said [Daniel] Fine, who is associate director at New Mexico Center for Energy Policy at New Mexico Tech. “Loss to the country and to the Southwest will be the workforce. It will be decimated at levels of less than $30 a barrel (of crude oil).”
—Gov. Susana Martinez is hitting the presidential campaign trail. She will be campaigning with Marco Rubio in Jacksonville this Saturday, a day after going to Kansas. Martinez, of course, endorsed Rubio on Thursday. Kansas holds caucuses on Saturday, while Florida has primaries on March 15. Early voting begins Saturday, though hundreds of thousands have already cast ballots by mail in the Sunshine State.
—NM Political Report reached out to Bill Richardson for his thoughts on Donald Trump (Richardson is a Hillary Clinton supporter after being on the outs with the Clintons for years). “Gov. Richardson thinks Trump would be disaster for the country and New Mexico if elected president,” a spokeswoman for Richardson said in an email. While Gov. Susana Martinez is staying mum on Donald Trump, the previous Republican governor expressed his thoughts—in a profane fashion—on the likely Republican nominee in a debate on Saturday. —Martinez signed legislation Wednesday that would reduce the amount of worker’s compensation someone can receive if they are drunk or otherwise intoxicated while injured. “If an employee is drunk or high on the job, they shouldn’t be rewarded with full workers compensation benefits when they injure themselves,” Martinez said in a statement.
—Martinez still won’t commit to voting for Trump. The Associated Press again asked Martinez about voting for the Republican nominee, which increasingly looks like it will be businessman Donald Trump. But the chair of the Republican Governors Association and the nation’s only Latina governor said Tuesday she’s “definitely not” voting for Democratic hopefuls Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The DGA loves needling Republicans over Trump; just look at his upside-down approval ratings (Hillary Clinton’s aren’t much better). Still, the current governor’s lack of a take on Trump is a far cry from that of the previous Republican governor, Gary Johnson.
—Gov. Susana Martinez and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reportedly convened a phone meeting of Republican governors on Monday to discuss Donald Trump. From Politico: Trump’s march to the nomination has set off a wave of anxiety across the Republican Party establishment as top officials weigh whether to endorse him — or denounce him as anathema to the party’s values. Reflecting that angst, on Monday morning, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the heads of the Republican Governors Association, convened fellow governors for an unusual conference call to discuss how the primary was unfolding — and Trump was a central topic of conversation. At one point during Monday’s call, which lasted around 30 minutes, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to discuss last week’s bombshell decision to back Trump. According to two sources familiar with the call, Christie mounted a detailed defense of his endorsement, explaining that he’d known the real estate executive for over a decade and had grown confident in his ability to lead the country.
—All of New Mexico’s congressional Democrats are on Team Hillary. Ben Ray Luján, the last holdout, announced his support for Hillary Clinton. Luján said in a statement that the former Secretary of State “embodies New Mexico values.”
“She puts people first and will roll up her sleeves to change their lives for the better,” he added. “Her record of advocating on behalf of women, children and families, investing in science and supporting our national labs, and fighting to protect our land, water and air will make a real difference in New Mexico and across the country.”
Luján is also the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, giving him an increased national profile among Democrats. —Speaking of endorsements, you may have heard that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump (yes, each word is a link to a different news story on the event).
—We decided to add Odds and Ends to the regular rotation here at NM Political Report. As the hectic legislative session ends, we will be transitioning from fewer short, process stories towards more in depth, researched stories. For example, our look at our piece on how behavioral health budget cuts could impact small providers or on concerns medical marijuana providers have about new transparency rules. While we are back to creating longer, researched and informative pieces taking angles that other outlets cannot or have not done, we still feel like an Odds and Ends piece in the evening is helpful. There are topics that we can’t quite make into a full-fledged story but are still important enough to not disappear into the ether of Twitter or Facebook.
—See below for all of the stories published on Wednesday. The end of the session is always the busiest time for the Legislature, since there is nothing that encourages people like deadlines; it’s just human nature. House sends $6.2 billion budget to governor’s desk Bill to increase child porn penalties passes Senate AG gives explanation for child porn bill walkout Senators: We didn’t kill ethics commission Gov to decide if 17 year olds should vote in primaries Voters to decide on bail reform
—A bill pushed by Uber and Lyft passed the Senate early Thursday morning. Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said that it combines his work with House sponsor Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, the insurance industry, trial lawyers and others. An amendment by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, that would put taxi companies under the same regulations as these transportation network companies failed narrowly.