James Spiller recently wrote a scathing article in the National Review in which he argues that the record of former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson is “not conservative and not even all that libertarian.” Paul Gessing is the president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, a libertarian-oriented think tank based in New Mexico. As the head of New Mexico’s free-market think tank (although I was in Washington, not New Mexico, during the Johnson administration,) I’d like to offer my own thoughts on Johnson’s tenure. I’d also like to refute some of what Mr. Spiller has to say in his critique. Spiller starts by attacking Johnson’s fiscal record, claiming that he is a “big spender” compared with successors Richardson (a Democrat) and Martinez (a Republican). One problem is that Spiller “credits” Johnson with spending money he had little control over.
New Mexico’s Democratic and Republican candidates are readying for a primary election in less than a month. They have been canvassing neighborhoods and raising money for weeks. But they might not be the only candidates in the ballot come November. Candidates who are members of minor parties or are independent and not part of any political party cannot file to run until almost two months after their major party counterparts. Robert Bridgwater, the former chairman of the Independent American Party for New Mexico, told NM Political Report that minor parties in New Mexico face an uphill battle during election season.
A controversial bill that took many hours of debate last year saw an accelerated but long and heated debate before dying this time. Five Democrats in Senate Public Affairs Committee voted to table what supporters call “right-to-work” legislation Tuesday evening, overriding the four Republicans who voted to keep the bill alive. The bill would have barred “fair share” union payments, which can be required in some jobs for nonunion employees who work in a collective bargaining unit. Unlike union dues, fair share fees pay for the negotiating a union does on the collective bargaining unit’s behalf. Brian Condit, a political coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, testified that fair share fees can’t include “nonchargeable” union activities like organizing, political activity and union education.
Paul Gessing is the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a libertarian non-profit based in New Mexico. Tamara Kay and Gorden Lafer re-hashed many of their arguments against the Rio Grande Foundation and its work in support of “right to work” in New Mexico. These two use a bunch of fancy rhetoric to attack our research as “unscientific,” but fail to embrace simple logic. As a sign of their alleged statistical prowess – with no relevance whatsoever to “right to work” — the “dynamic duo” claim that supporters of right to work are doing the equivalent of arguing that “because people with larger shoe sizes are more likely to have heart attacks, big shoes must cause heart attacks.”
I scoured the Internet for something, anything, to verify the statement that people with big feet are at greater risk for heart attacks. Interestingly, Kay and Lafer are flat-wrong even about this silly non-sequiter: according to a 2015 CBS News story, compared with a 6-foot-tall person, someone who is 5 feet tall could have a 60 percent higher risk for coronary heart disease.
Tamara Kay is an associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. Gordon Lafer is an associate professor at the University of Oregon. Despite being dealt a death blow in the state Senate at the final hour during the last legislative session, proponents of right-to-work laws are at it again. What was most alarming about last year’s debate was how lobbyists manipulated facts to propel their pet bills through the legislature. The head of the Rio Grande Foundation (RGF), Paul Gessing, promoted bogus research reports to legislators and the public that no credible statistician or social scientist would ever put their name on, suggesting that right-to-work laws increase economic growth, jobs and personal income.
Albuquerque residents have had an earful when it comes to revamping one of the city’s busiest streets. Local politicians have gone back and forth on whether the city should spend money on new buses and infrastructure along Central Avenue. Note: A version of this appears in the November 4 edition of the ABQ Free Press. The proposal for a Bus Rapid Transit system in Albuquerque has also received national attention from groups who have been fighting both sides of the issue across the United States. In September the Rio Grande Foundation, a local free-market think tank, hosted a lunch with Cato Institute Senior Fellow Randal O’Toole.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and The Charles Koch Institute, two groups that arguably have differing opinions on many things, appeared on the same same stage in Albuquerque on Wednesday to discuss civil asset forfeiture. New Mexico famously ended the practice of civil asset forfeiture earlier this year. Representatives from the two groups, along with a criminal defense attorney and a former director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office, discussed the importance of reforming states’ laws regarding asset forfeiture. Moderated by Paul Gessing, the director of the free market think tank Rio Grande Foundation, the panel discussed how New Mexico recently passed a law to change how and why law enforcement is allowed to take property. One particularly interesting member of the panel was Brad Cates, a former prosecutor, New Mexico lawmaker and one of the people responsible for creating a law that allowed police to seize property without a conviction or even an arrest.
Starting today, cops in New Mexico can no longer take personal property without convicting someone, child predators will face tougher penalties and frozen powdered alcohol products are now recognized as being under state liquor control. These are just a handful of the 62 laws passed earlier this year during the regular state legislative session. Seventy-nine other new laws went into effect last month, while others with the emergency clause went into effect even earlier. The new civil asset forfeiture law is perhaps the most impactful and passed both chambers of the Legislature with wide support, netting no votes against it from either the state House of Representatives or the state Senate. Before, law enforcement officers could arrest someone and seize a personal item, such as their car, without proof that this person committed a crime.
EDITOR’S NOTE: What do you think about the efficacy of New Mexico’s Rail Runner train system? Some love it, some hate it, almost everyone has an opinion. Below, you’ll find two strong, conflicting views about the rail service. First, an opinion editorial from ABQ City Councilor Rey Garduño on why he thinks the rail system is “an invaluable service” for New Mexicans. Second, a direct response from Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation who thinks Garduño is “just wrong on the Rail Runner.”
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]PAUL GESSING is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.[/box]
They say it’s better to be lucky than good. Of course, it’s even better to be lucky and good! That is exactly what happened in New Mexico during the 2015 legislative session with regard to reforming the process of civil asset forfeiture. To recap, during the 2015 legislative session, New Mexico’s deeply-divided Legislature unanimously supported significant reforms to the State’s civil asset forfeiture laws. That bill was signed by Governor Susana Martinez, a former prosecutor.