Session midpoint arrives, no real relief for New Mexicans
Santa Fe, NM- The New Mexico Legislature has reached its midpoint. Despite the claimed ease of virtual lawmaking, and Democrats touting “record levels” of public participation, the House Chamber did not pass its first bill until just last week. Of the bills that have been approved by the progressive-led chamber, 92% have been Democrat-sponsored legislation and 8% have been Republican measures. While there have been some glimpses of bipartisan cooperation, the overwhelming number of bills passed have been hyper-partisan which is a detriment to hard-working New Mexico families and business owners. Instead, the bills passed by the Democrat majority this session have fallen short of addressing the education and economic crises facing the state, leaving hard-working families and business owners looking for answers. Rather than addressing the pressing concerns New Mexico’s parents, students, and business owners are struggling with, the majority has focused on passing legislation for special interest groups, primarily trial lawyers.
“We have seen several opportunities to work together on a bipartisan basis to advance important bills- an independent redistricting commission, value-added agriculture, and fixing systemic CYFD programmatic issues- however, these bipartisan bills are stuck in our virtual committees,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Rebecca Dow (TorC). “We cannot ignore serious issues simply because Democrats do not want to give Republicans any political credit for helping to address the problems that New Mexicans care about.”
From the onset of the Lujan Grisham economic shutdown, House Republicans have made it clear their priorities are getting children back to in-person learning and passing legislation that positively impacts New Mexicans who have been adversely affected by business closures and high unemployment. Republican lawmakers have been especially concerned about frontline workers in the medical field, restaurants, and other hospitality-related businesses.
Further, House Republicans have voiced strong support for changing the state’s public health emergency laws to require legislative involvement in managing such emergencies. Currently, the Governor has sole authority to dictate the state’s response to the pandemic and there is no legislative or public oversight of her decisions, although these decisions directly affect every New Mexican. Reforming these public health emergency laws to provide needed oversight has considerable bipartisan support, yet such legislation has still not made it to the full body for consideration.
“New Mexicans have no representation or recourse due to the sole decision making power of the Governor, and the Democrat leadership would prefer to keep dancing around the problem and pass one bad bill after another, rather than address our state’s education, unemployment, and business closure problems,” said House Republican Whip Rod Montoya (Farmington). “It is almost as if the Democrats see re-establishing legislative oversight as a rebuke of the Lujan Grisham administration. I was elected to do what is right for our state and my district, not sidestep the fundamental issues that progressives see as posing political fallout for the Governor.”
Although the Legislature’s Democrat leadership proclaims the session’s top priority is to assist our state’s economic recovery, the reality is the House and Senate has spent considerable time supporting legislation that is a direct assault on small businesses, New Mexico’s local governments, law enforcement officers, and the oil and gas industry.
“The flurry of legislative activity that has occurred during the first 30 days of the session has revealed that dark-money and special interest groups reign supreme in the Roundhouse,” said House Republican Leader Jim Townsend (Artesia.) “On the other hand, those citizens who continue to struggle and suffer due to the Governor’s economic shutdown policies must wait for needed relief.”