Contentious House debate over bill to fund special session

After a contentious, two-hour debate over what should go into the bill to fund 2021’s second special legislative session, the House voted 65 to 1 to approve the $1.6 million package. The new House Majority Floor leader, Democratic state Rep. Javier Martinez, of Albuquerque, introduced HB 1, known as the feed bill, which ensures that the 2021 second special session legislative session can pay for itself. The legislative session, as called by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, is focused on redrawing political maps and how to appropriate the rest of the $1.1 billion the state has received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act under Pres. Joe Biden. The bill originally included additional monies to go to the executive and judicial branches, to enable the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) to prepare to spend the ARPA funds and money for the courts to pay for pretrial services. Martinez referred repeatedly to the crime problem in Albuquerque and that the DFA needed to get ready for the federal expenditures as reasons to pass a bill that was designed to allow the legislature to include the additional expenditures.

Social justice advocate Pamelya Herndon appointed new HD 28 representative

The Bernalillo County Commission appointed social justice advocate and lawyer Pamelya Herndon to the state House to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, on Tuesday. The Bernalillo County Commissioners voted 4 to 0 in favor of Herndon with one, Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, absent. Herndon vied for the job against seven other candidates but one, William Boughan-Trammell, ended his campaign for the seat before the commission meeting began. Herndon, who is a lawyer trained in tax law and has experience in both government and the nonprofit sector, touted her professional background and years of service for various social justice causes. She said she has worked for gender pay equity, helped individuals enroll in the New Mexico Health Exchange and to take the U.S. Census.

Activist announces she is seeking appointment to HD 28

Long time community activist Pamelya Herndon announced on Monday that she is seeking appointment to state House District 28 to replace U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury. Herndon moved to the district in 1982, where she and her husband raised their three children. She said she thinks she is the best person for the job, in part, because of her three decades of living in the district and because of her experience of working in various government positions. She was a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service and she was the Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the General Services Department. She has also been a deputy superintendent general counsel for the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department.

Warning: U.S. might be subjected to ‘petticoat rule’ – a celebration of women’s right to vote

The city of Albuquerque’s 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage special on Wednesday was both a celebration of the 19th amendment and a reminder of the darker moments behind voting rights. A bevy of women speakers, from political leaders like Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to young women pledging to vote for the first time this year, talked about the importance of voting and frequently referred to it as a way to make their voices heard. Many also spoke about the struggle for women of color to gain the right to vote even after the passage of the 19th amendment. Social justice advocate Pamelya Herndon, executive director and founder of KWH Social Justice Law Center and Change, brought up the education requirements that some Black voters faced for a century in some states after the Civil War ended as just one impediment. Herndon said the historical social justice leader and “leading male feminist of his time,” W.E.B. Du Bois said that “in order for the Black race to be lifted, every single Black person must have the right to vote.”

The women’s suffrage movement distanced itself from the concept of Black women having the right to vote in the early years of the effort because the suffragettes didn’t want to alienate the white Southern women involved in the cause, according to historians.

Wanted: 18-year-old women to vote

Long-time Albuquerque-based activist Pamelya Herndon thinks women will achieve pay equity by 2030. According to a national group called Status of Women, if current trends continue, women in New Mexico won’t see equal pay until 2054. Women of color face even greater pay inequities due to systemic racism. Herndon acknowledges the disparity, but despite those obstacles, she remains optimistic that all women will make the same as white men by 2030 regardless of color. “I absolutely do (believe we’ll get there).

NAACP officials keep wary eye on New Mexico data

A local advocacy group is keeping a watchful eye on equitable health care for African Americans during the pandemic. Pamelya Herndon, the first vice chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Albuquerque chapter, said the NAACP is not aware of discrimination against African-Americans during the pandemic in this state. But, the NAACP encouraged African-Americans to reach out to their local NAACP chapter if they experience prejudice during the public health emergency. One reason to worry is because African-Americans tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, which could put them at greater risk for mortality from COVID-19 related illness than whites. Herndon said she would like to see a plan put into place to better protect the African-American community, especially given the already present health disparities.

Women’s groups gather on Indigenous women’s issues

Angel Charley, acting co-executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native American Women, gave a siren call for Indigenous issues Sunday during a meeting of women’s groups. Charley was the keynote speaker for the New Mexico American Association of University Women Chapter (AAUW), the League of Women Voters and the National Organization for Women over the weekend in Santa Fe in advance of the organizations’ lobbying efforts Monday at the Roundhouse rotunda. Pamelya Herndon, chair of the Public Policy Committee for AAUW, said she chose Charley as speaker because she had never seen a collaboration between the Indigenous group and the AAUW and she thought now was a good time to start one. “We should be working together,” Herndon said. “This is how to move into the Year of the Woman.”

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Lifting Indigenous Women’s Voices, new group forms

Eager for change, a new organization called the New Mexico Indigenous Women’s Resource Council symbolically tied a ribbon Saturday in Gallup to launch a group dedicated to advocacy and helping people who are marginalized within indigenous communities. The council’s board president, Sonlatsa Jim-Martin, Navajo-Modoc, said the group will focus on women and girls in indigenous communities who experience domestic violence, helping indigenous people who are LGBTQ, and working on causes such as missing and murdered indigenous women. Jim-Martin said the number of missing and murdered women and girls from indigenous communities is alarming. She said the problem is worse than the numbers officially reported. “We know we can say it’s happening every day,” Jim-Martin told NM Political Report.

Fate of Democrat’s pregnant worker protections uncertain

A tie vote has put into limbo a Democrat-sponsored bill meant to enact a range of new protections for pregnant workers in New Mexico. Members of the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee split 3 to 3 along party lines today after about an hour of discussion on HB 37, Rep. Gail Chasey’s Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act. Chasey’s expert witness, Southwest Women’s Law Center Executive Director Pamelya Herndon, said that because more than half of New Mexico’s population consists of women, special safeguards for pregnant employees are necessary to help ensure the state’s economic viability. Rep. James E. Smith, R-Sandia Park, said he was concerned about how the measure could affect small mom-and-pop businesses. Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, who presented the bill in Chasey’s stead today, responded that “any burden on businesses can be taken into account.”

Armstrong added that the legislation’s requirements that businesses provide reasonable accommodations for workers facing physical hardships related to pregnancy or childbirth are balanced against other provisions designed to safeguard employers’ financial bottom line.