A bill that would allow the state and certain local authorities to enact environmental protections more stringent than federal regulations stalled Monday when Republicans pulled a legislative maneuver that requires every member of the chamber to be physically present in the Roundhouse. “We’re gonna roll over this bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe. “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to have us just standing in place.” Wirth, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 8, said the “call of the Senate” will remain on the measure. He noted that “this little procedural maneuver is certainly part of the rules.”
Tensions boiled over on the normally cordial Senate floor Monday after an Albuquerque Democrat used a legislative maneuver to stall a bill he opposes. Sen. Jacob Candelaria said his move prompted the typically mild-mannered majority leader Peter Wirth to drop an F-bomb. Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat known for his easygoing demeanor, confronted Candelaria at his chair after the third-term senator asked for “a call of the Senate” — a procedural move that requires every member of the chamber to be physically present in the Roundhouse, Candelaria said. He said Wirth, who was furious he had forced debate on Senate Bill 71, which would create the Patients’ Debt Collection Protection Act, asked, “Why don’t you just [expletive] off and put an amendment on like the rest of us?” Candelaria contends that as the bill is written, it wouldn’t provide protections for the poor.
Called historic, New Mexico decriminalized abortion on Friday when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act into law, after years of efforts by abortion rights supporters. SB 10 repeals the 1969 statute that criminalized abortion by banning it with very few exceptions.
Lujan Grisham said “a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body.”
“Anyone who seeks to violate bodily integrity, or to criminalize womanhood, is in the business of dehumanization,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “New Mexico is not in that business – not any more. Our state statutes now reflect this inviolable recognition of humanity and dignity. I am incredibly grateful to the tireless advocates and legislators who fought through relentless misinformation and fear-mongering to make this day a reality.
ByDaniel J. Chacón and Robert Nott, Santa Fe New Mexican |
To hear House Speaker Brian Egolf tell it, public participation in this year’s largely virtual legislative session has been robust even if the doors of the state Capitol have been closed to everyday New Mexicans. In the second and third weeks of the 60-day session, more than 6,100 residents from 32 of the state’s 33 counties have voiced their opinions during committee hearings in the House of Representatives — up from the 2,400 who tuned in the first week. Egolf’s office touted the numbers Tuesday in a news release, declaring virtual participation “continues at a record-setting pace” in the House. But how many New Mexicans have been shut out? “It’s hard to quantify,” Egolf said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham could have the bill that decriminalizes abortion care on her desk as early as late Friday, House Speaker Brian Egolf said during a Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico event. Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico, an arm of Planned Parenthood, held a remote event called “Toast of the Town” Wednesday evening. The Santa Fe Democrat was one of several speakers, including Lujan Grisham as the keynote speaker. Most of the talk during the hour-long event was about HB 7 and SB 10, mirror bills that would repeal the 1969 statute that bans abortion with few exceptions. SB 10 passed the state Senate in a historic win of 25 to 17 on February 12.
The bill to repeal the antiquated abortion ban is now one step from heading to the governor’s desk. SB 10, which was amended in the Senate, passed along party lines in an 8 to 4 vote Monday in the House Judiciary Committee. State Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, amended the bill on the Senate floor Thursday to add the names of the sections the bill would repeal for clarity. Related: In historic turn, state Senate passes abortion ban repeal
Otherwise, SB 10 is a mirror bill to HB 7, which is already on the House floor agenda. The House convenes again Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Daniel Marzec, communications director for the Office of the Speaker Brian Egolf, said by email Monday that the House would not hear HB 7 on Tuesday, the next day that the House is scheduled to meet on the House floor.
Two years after a group of conservative Democrats, along with Republicans voted against decriminalizing abortion care, the state Senate passed SB 10 Thursday, 25 to 17. SB 10, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, is called the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act and has a mirror bill, HB 7, sponsored by Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla. The two bills remove three sections from the criminal code which, in 1969, banned abortion with some limited exceptions. The law has repeatedly been called archaic and advocates for its repeal said it included language contrary to how medicine is currently practiced. While the law is currently unenforceable, reproductive rights advocates have said that given the conservative bloc on the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade could be gutted in the next few years.
Three pandemic relief bills designed to provide New Mexico residents and business owners an economic lifeline cleared the state Senate with bipartisan support Wednesday. All three measures, the first substantial pieces of legislation to make it out of a chamber during this year’s 60-day legislative session, will head next to the state House of Representatives. “There have been some who have questioned why we’re doing this session — today is the answer,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said afterward. “This is the start of critical recovery,” he said. Senate Bill 1 would give restaurants, bars and other food and beverage establishments most affected by business restrictions under the state’s public health orders a one-time gross receipts tax holiday for four months, from March to June.
Since the early part of the 20th century, the number of liquor licences in New Mexico have largely been finite. As a result, those licenses are now worth roughly half a million dollars. In recent years, state lawmakers have tried various ways to reconfigure the state’s liquor laws that would both make it less costly for potential new liquor license holders while also not devaluing current licenses.
This year, there are a handful of bills aimed at creating a new type of liquor license for restaurants to add spirits to their menus, instead of adding more liquor licenses to the mix. The general idea is that restaurants would be able to obtain a license to sell mixed drinks as long as a certain percentage of sales is for food, much like a beer and wine license. But even the idea of increasing the number of restaurants that can serve alcohol beyond beer and wine has some current liquor license holders concerned.
ByRobert Nott and Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican |
Two weeks into the 2021 legislative session, it looks like no one is home at the state Capitol. The hallways and hearing rooms — which normally would be bustling with activity by this time in a 60-day session — were empty Tuesday, aside from the rare sighting of a staff member or New Mexico State Police officer. Perhaps more surprisingly, Tuesday’s House floor session ran quickly and quietly, with no sign of the partisan rancor of the previous week, when party leaders bickered. House Republicans have questioned and criticized rules for running the session in a hybrid format, which allows members to participate in person or to log in online from home or their Capitol offices. And late last week, some members of the House GOP petitioned the New Mexico Supreme Court to halt those rules, arguing they are unconstitutional.