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Dem lawmakers ram through bad bills ahead of Saturday adjournment

On Friday, New Mexico legislative Democrats rammed through many extreme bills during the last full day of the 2023 Legislative Session.

Some of these bills included: 

S.B. 53: Trying to preempt Holtec from building a nuclear storage facility in southeastern New Mexico. Democrats, including sponsor Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Santa Fe, Sandoval), erroneously claimed the company would make the state the “dumping ground” of spent nuclear fuel but failed to talk about how safe the facility is or the vast economic opportunities its location in the Land of Enchantment would be. It passed on a mostly party-line 35-28 vote. It was quickly signed by Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

S.B. 13: The chamber endorsed the radical bill that would censor pro-life speech and ban extradition of criminal abortionists who break the law in other states passed the House despite bipartisan opposition and a lengthy three-hour debate. It passed 38-30, with six Democrats joining all Republicans in opposition. 

S.B. 468: The bill declaring a state holiday for the radical far-left labor activist Dolores Huerta passed the House by a vote of 50-10.

S.B. 426: The bill creates a new civil rights division in the Attorney General’s Office that will cost New Mexicans millions over the next three-year period. Its creation was because of the state’s Civil Rights Act which attacks local government and police departments by opening the door to floodgates of frivolous lawsuits.

All anti-gun bills other than H.B. 9, which would mandate the locking up of firearms, appear to be dead as both houses of the legislature speed ahead toward a 12:00 noon adjournment on Saturday.

One key item of legislation, H.B. 547, a tax package that could raise taxes by over $114 million annually, is still up in the air due to the House and Senate not agreeing on the bill’s provisions. It could pass on Saturday if both chambers agree with changes made in a conference committee.  

There have been rumors Gov. Lujan Grisham is thinking about a special session, but news of such a move would likely only be known following the end of the current session.

Many Dem anti-gun bills facing likely death as legislature wraps up

As of Thursday, the New Mexico House and Senate have passed one anti-gun bill that has been sent to Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for a signature — H.B. 9 felonizing New Mexicans who do not lock up their guns.

However, other anti-gun bills are waiting in the legislature waiting for either the House or Senate to take action.

S.B. 44, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), bans citizens from carrying a firearm within 100 feet of a polling place during an election, including absentee ballot drop boxes. There are no exceptions for concealed carry or for having a firearm in one’s car within 100 feet of that polling location. The bill has passed through the Senate but still awaits action by the House to approve it.

S.B. 428 by Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Doña Ana), which targets firearm retailers and manufacturers, is an “attempt to circumvent the Federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act through New Mexico’s Unfair Practices Act. The bill would try [to] make it easier to sue a firearm manufacturer or retailer in New Mexico,” according to the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association. The bill would still need to advance from House Judiciary Committee and then be passed by the full House, which is unlikely. 

H.B. 100 and 101 by Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) have yet to advance to the full House. H.B. 101, which is to mandate a 14-day waiting period before firearm purchases, has not been scheduled for a floor vote. 

H.B. 100, which would make most New Mexico gun owners felons by labeling their firearms over 10-round capacities “assault weapons,” has not been scheduled for House Judiciary Committee. Due to the late date, it is likely dead since it has not even passed through one house. 

A similar bill in the Senate, S.B. 427 By Cervantes and Romero, has yet to pass through the full Senate.

S.B. 116 by Sen. Carrie Hamblen (D-Doña Ana) would mandate a person must be 21 to purchase a firearm. The bill is still stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is likely dead since it has not even passed through the full Senate chamber yet.

On Saturday, March 18, 2023, at 12:00 noon, the 2023 Legislative Session will end, where the final results will show if Democrats can successfully ram through any other anti-gun bill before the clock runs out. 

Dems block attempt to hear bill fixing medical malpractice catastrophe

On Saturday, New Mexico state Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Bernalillo) made a motion on the House floor to remove H.B. 88, which has been languishing in the House Health and Human Services Committee and add it for consideration by the full House.

H.B. 88 amends the Medical Malpractice Act to replace the unreasonable $4 million claim cap with only a $750,000 cap to keep healthcare providers in the state. 

Dozens of physicians and other medical professionals were in the House gallery waiting for the Legislature to take action on the critical bill that would retain doctors in the state.

Democrats objected to Rep. Rehm’s motion, claiming “the motion is proper,” as Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) stated, but it was not in congruence with the history of the chamber. 

Speaker Javier Martinez (D-Bernalillo) ruled that Rehm’s motion was out-of-order. The motion to uphold his order passed on a vote of 40-26. Another motion by Rep. Rehm to withdraw the bill from the Health and Human Services Committee to the House Judiciary Committee also failed, with a 39-27 vote.

“It is no secret that doctors are leaving our state, we are in crisis, and it is being ignored by Democrats,” said State Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque). “So many New Mexicans will be disappointed to learn their healthcare has again been threatened in favor of a political agenda.” 

“If not now, then when? When will the Legislature take the time to properly address this doctor crisis?” said Ranking Republican on the House Health and Human Services Committee, Jenifer Jones (Deming). “Using the committee process as an excuse is just that, New Mexicans need healthcare and not excuses.”

“We have stood adamantly against the regressive medical malpractice changes that created this unnecessary crisis that is forcing New Mexicans to lose their doctors,” said State Rep. Jim Townsend (R-Artesia). “New Mexicans should not be forced to endure extended wait times or travel clear across the state or sometimes across state borders to get healthcare. This is a crisis, and it is disappointing that Democrats are refusing to right the wrong they created.”

The doctors walked out of the chamber after the move to take action on the important issue failed.

Bill to erode election security one hurdle away from becoming law

On Wednesday, the New Mexico Senate voted 27-14 to pass H.B. 4, an extreme rewrite of many portions of the state’s election code. 

Provisions in the bill would erode election security by letting felons vote, mandating a permanent absentee voter list, mandatory ballot drop boxes, and mandating voters be automatically registered at the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), where they would have to opt out by mail.

There were many concerns in committees and during floor discussions about the bill infringing on religious freedoms because some religions do not permit voting. Forcibly registering people to vote would be a violation.

According to the bill’s fiscal impact report, the Taxation and Revenue Department reports that “implementation of this bill will have a high impact on its IT Division. The estimated time to develop, test, and implement the changes is approximately 2,704 hours or 17 months and approximately $717,700 ($567,800 contractual resources including gross receipts tax and staff workload costs of $149,900). The bill will require MVD to partner with [the Secretary of State’s office] to make changes to the interface between the two agencies.”

According to the New Mexico Sun, “The New Mexico Business Coalition (NMBC) strongly opposes HB 4. NMBC President Carla Sonntag published a letter arguing that the legislation would endanger both voting rights and voting system integrity in many ways, including automatically registering voters without their consent, increasing the likelihood of non-U.S. citizens being registered to vote and giving full voting rights to felons prior to completion of parole/probation.”

Following the Senate vote, Republican Senate Leader Brian Baca said in a statement, “I am incredibly disappointed in the Secretary of State and Democratic legislators who put progressive special interests above the people of New Mexico with the passage of this legislation,” adding, “The only beneficiaries of this legislation are felons and those seeking to compromise the integrity of our elections.”

While the bill was in the House, Republicans attempted to amend it with a provision to require photo identification to vote, which all died. In the Senate, Republicans attempted to add amendments, including one to create an opt-in system for the MVD registrations. Those attempts failed also.

Since the Senate amended the bill in that chamber, it will now have to go back to the House for concurrence. If that happens, it will go to Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk, where she is all but guaranteed to sign it. New Mexicans can contact their state representatives to ask them to oppose the bill.

Santa Fe judge releases alleged pedophile pre-trial

On March 3, 2023, a former teacher at Holy Cross Catholic School in Santa Cruz, Calvin Robinson, 41 of Española, was released on an ankle monitor after his February 14, 2023, arrest on sex crimes charges.

Robinson was held on one count of criminal sexual penetration in the second degree, three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second degree, two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the third degree (all felonies), and one count of enticement of a child, which is a misdemeanor.

The suspected pedophile was released pre-trial by Santa Fe District Judge T. Glenn Ellington of Division VII, a Democrat, on March 2, 2023, according to court records. Robinson was placed on the pretrial services electronic monitoring program.

“[Robinson] has demonstrated by his conduct with [the girl] that he has a single-minded determination when he has selected a young victim, strongly suggesting that any child within [his] orbit is in danger,” Assistant District Attorney Shelby Bradley wrote in the Feb. 17 motion requesting a hearing aimed at keeping Robinson jailed, the Rio Grande Sun reported.

KOB 4 News reported that Robinson was accused of “allegedly abusing a 13-year-old student” at the school. According to an archive of the Holy Cross school’s website, Robinson taught fifth grade.

The outlet further reported, “The victim, who attended the elementary school from Aug. 2021 until May 2022, came forward in January to report the crimes. The sexual abuse claims were corroborated by other students at the school, prosecutors said.”

“[T]he victim was seated next to Robinson’s desk when the teacher unzipped her pants and placed his hands inside, records allege. The child tried to push Robinson’s hands away several times, police said. When she wouldn’t unzip her pants, Robinson unzipped them, police said.” Multiple assaults allegedly happened on the young girl, including repeated touching and kissing.

It is unclear when the alleged pedophile’s court date will be, but without New Mexico’s bail system, it appears this led to the release of the accused sex criminal.

Dems advance bill to give governor, other politicians a $60K pay raise

On Monday, the New Mexico Senate Finance Committee voted 8-3 to pass S.B. 442, which would give the governor and other statewide elected officials a hefty $59,714 pay raise.

In addition to Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, all other statewide officials, including Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, Attorney General Raúl Torrez, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, State Auditor Joseph Maestas, Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, and Treasurer Laura Montoya would get the raise.

According to the bill’s fiscal impact report, “Current law requires salaries from elected officials be paid from the general fund, except for the commissioner of public lands, who is paid from the state lands maintenance fund.”

During the committee’s consideration of the bill, Sen. Bill Sharer said, “Those are huge numbers; I never got an increase like that,” adding, “I’m concerned by these, what appear to be, colossal pay raises.”

Toulouse Oliver was happy to admit she wants a pay raise, claiming she would “welcome” the salary bump.

She said, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, “We have lives and families to support just like everybody else.”

“This isn’t so much about making money — none of us went into government to get rich or to make money…. I just need to be able to pay my bills and deal with inflation, the cost of living that’s really high right now. I’m a single mom, so for me, it’s much needed and very welcome and appreciated.”

Currently, the governor makes $110,000, while the auditor, treasurer, and secretary of state all make $85,000. The attorney general makes $95,000, and the land commissioner makes $90,000 annually. 

The bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. 

Radical anti-gun bill one hurdle away from becoming law

On Friday, the state Senate passed H.B. 9, an extreme piece of legislation that would force New Mexicans to lock up their firearms in “a gun safe or a device that prevents a firearm from being discharged or from being used to expel a projectile by the action of an explosion or a device other than a gun safe that locks a firearm and is designed to prevent children and unauthorized users from firing a firearm, which device may be installed on a firearm, be incorporated into the design of the firearm or prevent access to the firearm.”

If the gun owner does not lock up any and all firearms and their gun is somehow used in an offense by a minor causing “great bodily harm” or death, the parent of that child could be made a felon if the victim of the crime is killed or permanently disabled.

As noted by even some Democrats in the chamber during a July 2022 preview of the bill, it would be the first crime proposal to base a defendant’s sentence not on their own actions but that of someone else (a minor) who got ahold of a firearm. 

The bill does not, however, include provisions protecting the gun owner if the firearm was stolen, nor does it account for the de-facto tax it burdens the owner with being forced to find a new locking device to place it at all times. The bill is also blatantly unconstitutional.

The Senate amended the bill to add an exception for children hunting, but it would still require locking up the gun at nearly all times. Other amendments were also made. 

All Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D-Jemez Pueblo), voted against the bill. The final tally for the bill was 24-16.

It now goes back to the House for concurrence since it was amended in the upper chamber. If it passes the House for concurrence, it will go to the governor’s desk for a signature. Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has already signaled she will sign it into law.

Dems kill a slew of bills to curb crime epidemic

On Thursday, the New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee killed multiple proposals on party-line votes that would have helped curb the crime epidemic ravaging communities such as Albuquerque.

The committee quickly tabled H.B. 484 by Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerqu), which would have amended multiple sections of the Motor Vehicle Code to prevent driving with cannabis or controlled substances or metabolites in the blood. This would be in addition to alcohol blood concentrations. It quickly died on a 4-2 tabling vote, with Republican Reps. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) and John Block (R-Alamogordo) voting against tabling it.

Next, H.B. 491, a bill sponsored by three Democrat representatives, including Rep. Cynthia Borrego (D-Bernalillo), would have increased penalties for car theft, which is meant to deter car thieves. New Mexico leads most other states in the nation in terms of carjackings.

According to the bill’s fiscal impact report, “Under the revised penalties, anyone convicted for these crimes could be guilty of a fourth-degree felony for a first offense; a third-degree felony for a second offense, regardless of which provision was the first offense; and a second-degree felony for a third or subsequent offense, regardless of which provision was the first or second offense.” 

Borrego told stories about her relative who owns a dealership in Española and recently had a car thief steal and then wreck a brand new Toyota Tacoma afterward — leaving the dealership on the hook for the costs.

Despite carjackings plaguing the state, Democrats on the committee voted 4-2 to table the bill, with Reps. Block and Lord the only representatives opposing the tabling motion.

Another crime bill, H.B. 509, also from Rehm and Rep. Andrea Reeb (R-Clovis), would keep those criminals who have been accused of a “dangerous felony offense” in jail while awaiting trial, with an enumerated list of 14 statutory crimes defined in the bill. The bill would allow the defendant to convince a court that they are not a danger instead of automatically releasing them before trial.

This proposal also died on a 4-2 vote, with all the Democrats voting to table it and both Republicans rejecting the motion. 

Another bill, H.B. 306, which would create state penalties for straw purchases (knowingly buying a firearm for a felon), was also considered by the committee. Instead of mirroring federal law, which mandates years in prison, the bill only allows for 18 months in prison — an extremely short sentence. “Knowingly” was undefined by the bill’s sponsors. Democrats on the committee supported the Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham-backed bill, while both Republicans opposed it.  

Couy Griffin acquitted on campaign finance charge

On Wednesday in Alamogordo, a jury of twelve in the state District Court found former Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin not guilty of skirting New Mexico campaign laws.

According to the Associated Press, “State prosecutors accuse Griffin of a misdemeanor violation of failing to register as a political group, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and an additional $1,000 fine.”

Griffin told the AP, “All I wanted to do was speak on behalf of an ‘America First’ agenda, which should all be protected under the First Amendment,” adding, “I don’t want the state of New Mexico to know who has supported Cowboys for Trump. It’s about protecting donors.”

The court case came after arbitration between Griffin and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office resulted in demands he registers the group as a political committee despite it not falling within that scope and ordered fines of $7,800. 

After the verdict, Griffin wrote on Twitter, “This trial was a great example of how our judicial system is supposed to work. We could get away from the weaponized system, from the radicalized activists that sit on the bench, and we do that by jury trials.”

“Thank you for following along, thank you for your support, and this fight’s just getting started. We’re gonna get lots more wins from here on out.” 

Griffin has battled in courtrooms in Washington, D.C., and in Santa Fe, where he has not been judged by his peers until now. He noted after his court victory on Wednesday that his previous cases were in front of leftist judges and/or juries, such as in Washington. D.C., where he claims it is “95 percent” Democrat. 

Monday bill hearing on proposal to criminalize guns at the polls

On Monday, the House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee (HGEIC) will consider S.B. 44, which will ban anyone except security and law enforcement from carrying a firearm within 100 feet of a polling place.

Despite mass shooters specifically targeting “gun-free zones” as easy targets, state Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) is pushing the anti-Second Amendment law that would restrict firearms from polling places.

The fiscal impact report for the bill reads, “Senate Bill 44 creates the new crime of unlawful carrying of a firearm at a polling place, a petty misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.”

The Law Offices of the Public Defender write, “SB44 does not include an intent element. Analyst recommends a requirement that the person ‘intentionally carry a firearm at a polling place’ as an element of the proposed crime. Presuming that the purpose of this new law is to prevent and punish purposeful voter intimidation, the bill should not criminalize the inadvertent act of carrying a firearm to or near a polling station by someone who might have a conceal and carry permit and simply forgotten that the firearm was still on his or her person. An ‘intentional’ or ‘purposeful’ requirement would better target culpable conduct of carrying a firearm to a polling place as an act of


The bill previously passed the state Senate 28-9. 

To contact members of the HGEIC, their information can be found here:

  • Chair: D. Wonda Johnson (D). District 5 (McKinley & San Juan). Room 413D, 986-4236. Email: dwonda.johnson@nmlegis.gov
  • Vice Chair: Natalie Figueroa (D). District 30 (Bernalillo). Room 203AN, 986-4255. Email: natalie.figueroa@nmlegis.gov
  • Ranking Member: Martin R. Zamora (R). District 63 (Curry, DeBaca, Guadalupe, Roosevelt & San Miguel). Room 203EN, 986-4211. Email: martin.zamora@nmlegis.gov
  • Member: Janelle Anyanonu (D). District 19 (Bernalillo). Room 203BN, . Email: Janelle.Anyanonu@nmlegis.gov
  • Member: John Block (R). District 51 (Otero). Room 202B, 986-4220. Email: John.Block@nmlegis.gov
  • Member: Gail Chasey (D). District 18 (Bernalillo). Room 134C, 986-4777. Email: gail@gailchasey.com
  • Member: Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D). District 15 (Bernalillo). Room 312A, 986-4327. Email: dayan.hochman-vigil@nmlegis.gov
  • Member: Charlotte Little (D). District 68 (Bernalillo). Room 203CN, 986-4254. Email: Charlotte.Little@nmlegis.gov
  • Member: William “Bill” R. Rehm (R). District 31 (Bernalillo). Room 201B, 986-4214. Email: bill.rehm@nmlegis.gov

The meeting will occur in Room 305 at the state Capitol at 8:30 a.m. To join the meeting via Zoom, the login information is below: 

Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81850374006 Or One tap mobile : US: +12532050468,,81850374006# or +12532158782,,81850374006# Webinar ID: 818 5037 4006 International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/keoXg8C6mc 

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