Gov. Martinez fills two legislative vacancies

Gov. Susana Martinez announced two appointments Friday to fill vacancies created by lawmakers who left the Legislature before the end of their terms.

Martinez appointed former State Rep. James White, an Albuquerque Republican, to fill the vacancy in Senate District 19. Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort announced her resignation earlier this year. The veteran Senator from Sandia Park previously announced that the 2016 regular legislative session would be her last. Martinez highlighted White’s nearly three decades as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. In the House, Martinez appointed a Democrat to fill the House seat of former Speaker of the House Ken Martinez.

Wilson Beffort resigns from Senate

State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort resigned, opening up a seat for the governor to appoint—for the next three months at least. The Republican from Sandia Park is not running for reelection, so anyone who is appointed would only serve through the start of the year. The Mountain View Telegraph reported the news that the Bernalillo County Commission is accepting applications from those who want to be considered by Gov. Susana Martinez for the appointment. The paper reported Wilson Beffort tendered her resignation July 29. Republican former state representative James P. White will face Sandia Park Democrat Harold W. Murphree in November’s election in the Republican-leaning district.

Finding Trump supporters in New Mexico

Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be the next Republican presidential nominee, but finding one of his supporters in New Mexico can be difficult.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the New Mexican who donated the most to Trump is Clovis business owner Steven Brewer, who donated the maximum amount of $2,700. Related: New Mexico GOP embraces Trump

Brewer told NM Political Report that he didn’t want to speak about politics because of his business but did say that he’ll support Trump because he would be better for small businesses than Hillary Clinton. Elected officials also have largely been mum on potential Trump support. Gov. Susana Martinez recently criticized Trump’s comments about immigrants, but still hasn’t announced her support for any of the three Republican candidates. She endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio shortly before he dropped out of the race.

WATCH: NM politicos talk Clinton, Sanders and, yes, Trump

Four New Mexico politicos gathered to discuss the state of the presidential race and more on Democracy Now! Wednesday. The discussion comes a little more than a month before New Mexicans go to the polls for the primary. Related: Johnson explains party switch on Democracy Now! Former Gov. Gary Johnson, former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and State Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, and Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park, took part in the roundtable, where they discussed the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Johnson explains his party switch on Democracy Now!

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson made an appearance on the national progressive talk show Democracy Now! Wednesday. He spoke about the presidential primaries and why he left the Republican party in 2012. The show’s host  Amy Goodman asked Johnson if he felt the Republican Party left him. Related: NM politicos talk Clinton, Sanders and, yes, Trump

Johnson said his former party “did not stand up” for him when he was shut out of debates by networks due to his low polling numbers when he originally ran for president in 2012.

Guv signs bill toughening child porn penalties

New Mexico will soon have tougher criminal penalties for people caught manufacturing, distributing and possessing child pornography. Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill, which became one of the most heated during this year’s legislative session, earlier today. The new law increases prison term penalties for manufacturing child porn from nine years to 12 years, distribution from three years to 11 years and possession from 18 months to 10 years. One more year of prison will be added to each penalty if the victim in the child pornography is under 13 years old. It will go into effect later this year.

Here are the legislators who are NOT running for reelection

Now that the legislative session is over and the dust is—mostly—settled, legislators now are turn their focus to the upcoming elections. While some candidates have announced their intention to take over the veterans that called it quits this year, the official count won’t be until after the deadline to file on March 8. Here’s who we know for sure is leaving this year, and a couple no one is sure about. House of Representatives
District 24 – Rep. Conrad James, R-Albuquerque confirmed last year on social media that he would not run for reelection. He later endorsed Dr. Christina Hall, an Albuquerque chiropractor, as his replacement.

AG’s office walks out over change to child porn bill

A successful amendment to a bill to crack down on child porn caused staffers from a key state agency to storm out of the committee room in apparent protest. After lawmakers in the Senate Finance Committee voted to exempt teenage sexting from a measure increasing penalties on possession of child porn, Clara Moran, the division director for special prosecutions at the state Attorney General’s office and others from that office walked out of the committee room. Related Story: AG gives explanation for child porn bill walkout

Until that point, Moran acted as the expert witness for sponsors and Reps. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, and Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque. Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, was not pleased.

Senate committee hears from public on right-to-work bills

A Senate committee heard public comment on a handful of bills related to labor unions on Sunday afternoon. The Senate Public Affairs Committee heard two hours of public testimony on three different right-to-work bills and another aimed at changing how unions with limited members operate. Three other bills that were presented in the committee have ‘Employee Preference’ in the title and propose to allow employees the choice to pay for union negotiations or not. While it is already illegal for employers to require union membership as a term of employment, some employees have to pay what is known as ‘fair share’. Those in favor of right-to-work legislation have argued that employees should be able to choose whether they pay the union for representation.

Senate approves growing hemp for research purposes

A bill that would allow the growth of hemp for research and development purposes cleared the Senate on Monday afternoon. The legislation would allow researchers, most likely at New Mexico State University, to grow hemp for research purposes. The legislation would also provide for the commercial growth of hemp if it is deemed legal by the federal government. Hemp was previously outlawed on a federal level for all uses, but the most recent federal farm bill allowed the growth of hemp for research purposes. Much of the debate was spent on a floor amendment by Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, who said that the bill should not anticipate the federal legalization of commercial growth of hemp.