Marijuana

NM health provider at center of push to change federal pot policy

A New Mexico health provider and cannabis advocate is at the forefront of the possible massive change to how marijuana is treated in the United States. Bryan Krumm, a nurse practitioner and director of Harmony Psychiatric, filed a petition in 2009 to have cannabis taken off Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Substances in Schedule I are considered to be the most dangerous, have no medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Krumm’s is one of three pending petitions. Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration sent a letter to the U.S. Senate indicating a decision on marijuana will be made sometime this summer.

Udall, Heinrich: Senate should vote on Obama’s Scalia replacement

Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed condolences over the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, while saying that President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement. Scalia died in Texas on Saturday, and the focus almost immediately turned to who would be the conservative justice’s replacement. Many conservatives, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said that Obama should not nominate a replacement because he is nearing the end of his second term. Obama will be in office until Jan. 20, 2017, more than 11 months from now.

Heinrich, Udall split on cybersecurity bill

The U.S. Senate passed a bill designed to increase cybersecurity, but the two Senators from New Mexico couldn’t agree on how to vote. Sen. Martin Heinrich voted for the legislation, while Udall voted against it. Both are Democrats. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) passed on Tuesday on a 74-21 vote. A similar, but identical, bill passed the House.

Bill that stops bulk data collection becomes law

A bill to stop the bulk collection of data as allowed through the post-9/11 Patriot Act passed the Senate on Tuesday and was quickly signed by President Barack Obama. Both members of the Senate from New Mexico voted in the majority on the 67-32 vote on the bill dubbed the USA Freedom Act. The bill had overwhelmingly passed the House weeks ago, but the Senate failed to get 60 votes to pass the bill and instead tried to pass a full reauthorization of the Patriot Act. That effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., failed because of bipartisan opposition, highlighted by a filibuster by his fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Rand Paul. New Mexico’s junior Senator Martin Heinrich was among the Democrats who pitched in to the filibuster.

Heinrich pitches in to help Rand Paul’s filibuster

It’s a rarity in the Senate these days: bipartisan cooperation. And even more of a rarity: a bipartisan filibuster. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, conducted a filibuster over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of data. When Paul, who is also running for President, conducted his filibuster, it wasn’t only a few his fellow Republicans who helped him out—there were even more Democrats, including New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich. From the National Journal:
Seven Democrats spoke with Paul, compared with just three Republicans.

Dems in Congress pushing for $12 per hour minimum wage

Congressional Democrats, including all four Democrats in the New Mexico delegation, are pushing for a $12 minimum wage. With both the House and Senate controlled by Republicans, it is very unlikely that a minimum wage increase would pass during the current Congress. However, the push could be an attempt to bring the wedge issue up in time for the 2016 elections. In addition to increasing the minimum wage to $12 by 2020, the legislation would index the minimum wage to inflation. Senators Udall and Heinrich are among the co-sponsors of the Senate version of the legislation, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.