New Mexico

In dramatic vote, NM House narrowly kills extreme anti-business bill

The far-left Democrats’ Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (S.B. 3) finally died on the House floor. The legislation, which proposed to provide New Mexico workers with paid leave for critical life events, faced its decisive moment on the House floor with a 34-36 defeat.

The bill’s advocates claimed it was to address a gap in worker benefits by ensuring paid time off for New Mexico’s workforce, irrespective of their current employment benefits. The proposed measure was comprehensive, offering up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees to bond with a new child or mourn the loss of a child. Additionally, it included provisions for up to nine weeks of leave for employees or their family members facing serious health conditions. 

The legislation also recognized the supposed need of individuals recovering from domestic violence, categorizing this under “safe leave” by having their employer cover it. 

To support this ambitious program, the bill outlined a funding mechanism that involved contributions from both employees and employers with more than five workers. Specifically, the funding model proposed a contribution of $5 from workers and $4 from employers for every $1,000 earned in wages. This approach aimed to create a state fund dedicated to compensating workers during their leave periods via the dollars of hard-working taxpayers. 

Despite the bill’s intentions claiming to support workers during pivotal moments in their lives, opposition emerged, highlighting concerns from the business community. Critics argued that the provision for 12 weeks of leave was extreme and would pose significant operational challenges for many businesses. Furthermore, they contended that the bill’s criteria for qualifying circumstances were excessively expansive, potentially complicating its implementation.

The defeat of Senate Bill 3 on the House floor marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate over worker benefits in New Mexico. Proponents of the bill viewed it as a crucial step toward supporting workers and their families during times of need, while opponents raised concerns about its feasibility, impact on businesses, and the sky-high costs of goods and services that would undoubtedly result from its enactment.

Domenici officially becomes GOP U.S. Senate nominee to challenge Heinrich

Nella Domenici has officially been declared the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico, as confirmed by the state’s Secretary of State. Domenici, entering the general election race, emphasizes her commitment to the concerns of New Mexico voters and pledges to engage with and secure the support of constituents statewide.

“Our campaign is centered on the priorities of all New Mexico voters,” Domenici stated. “I am eager to connect with, listen to, and gain the trust of New Mexicans from every corner of the state.”

Domenici’s campaign has gained significant traction, evidenced by the substantial number of ballot petition signatures gathered—a number surpassing that of incumbent far-left Democrat Senator Martin Heinrich and all other candidates in the race. This achievement showcases widespread support across all 33 counties in New Mexico.

“The overwhelming support from families across the state, who are rallying behind our mission, underscores our shared commitment to collaboration over the prevailing dysfunction and partisanship in Washington,” Domenici remarked.

Positioning herself as a proactive representative for New Mexico in the Senate, Domenici aims to champion the state’s interests, foster solutions, and cater to the diverse needs of its residents.

“New Mexico’s rich heritage, its natural resources, and strategic institutions like national labs and military bases are invaluable assets. It’s imperative that we come together to harness these strengths for the betterment of our state and country,” she added.

Domenici concluded with a call for unity and a positive outlook on the upcoming electoral challenge: “I am deeply invested in the future of our nation and am confident in our prospects for success in New Mexico. Together, we are stronger.”

First and likely only anti-gun bill of 2024 Session heads to MLG’s desk

An anti-gun bill creating a mandatory seven-day waiting period for firearm transactions in New Mexico is now awaiting the governor’s approval following its passage in the state legislature after extensive discussions on Monday evening.

The bill underwent some revisions from its original form before securing approval with a narrow 36-32 vote, where it faced opposition primarily from Republican legislators, although some Democrats voted against the anti-gun bill. This marks the second occasion the House has deliberated on the bill due to amendments introduced by the Senate earlier in the session.

Key modifications to the bill pertain to exemptions from the seven-day waiting period. The exemptions apply to individuals with a federal firearm license, holders of a concealed carry license, law enforcement officers engaging in firearm transactions among themselves, and family members transferring firearms to one another.

However, some lawmakers believe the bill should include additional exemptions. State Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) expressed particular concern over the lack of an exemption for survivors of domestic violence, stating, “But the biggest thing for me on top of everything else, Mr. Speaker and gentle lady, was the fact that they didn’t allow the exemption for survivors of domestic violence. I think if you come in and have a restraining order, you are scared for your life, you are not living with this person, you are afraid they are going to kill you, you don’t have the opportunity to bypass that.”

Further adjustments by the Senate stipulate that if the mandatory federal background check is not completed within 20 days, the firearm sale may proceed. The initial version of the bill required buyers who did not pass the background check within the waiting period to fund a subsequent check. Additionally, the bill now exempts firearm mufflers and silencers from the waiting period.

This bill is among several firearm-related measures proposed by the governor at the start of the legislative session. Other pending proposals on the House floor include the bill to attack firearms manufacturers and sellers, stringent updates to the red flag law, a prohibition on semi-automatic firearms, and an increase in the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21, stripping 18-20-year-olds of their constitutional rights, and a bill to ban “high capacity” magazines on firearms. With these bills currently at the midpoint of the legislative process, it is unlikely any other anti-gun bills may pass.

Las Cruces police officer fatally stabbed in the line of duty

In a tragic incident on Sunday evening, a police officer in New Mexico lost his life after being stabbed by a suspect during an on-duty altercation. The officer, identified as Las Cruces Patrol Officer Jonah Hernandez, was responding to a trespassing call when he was attacked and sustained at least one stab wound. 

The Las Cruces Police Department confirmed the incident in a statement on social media, noting that the assault occurred shortly before 5 p.m.

In the wake of the stabbing, a bystander who witnessed the attack utilized Hernandez’s police radio to summon emergency assistance. 

Despite being rushed to MountainView Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces, Officer Hernandez succumbed to his injuries. Coverage by CBS affiliate KDBC-TV captured the urgent efforts of first responders to transport both Hernandez and the assailant to medical facilities.

The assailant, a 29-year-old male, was reportedly shot dead by the same witness who intervened during the attack. Police have withheld the suspect’s name until his family is notified.

Officer Hernandez, who hailed from El Paso, Texas, had been a dedicated member of the Las Cruces Police Department for two years. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons. The police department has announced plans to release further details about the incident later in the week.

Located approximately 223 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and 46 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces is now mourning the loss of one of its officers. 

This incident comes at a time when national statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund indicate a 39% decrease in the number of officers who died in the line of duty in 2023 compared to the previous year, with only one officer fatally stabbed among the 136 line-of-duty deaths reported last year.

The fate of extreme Dem alcohol tax increases has been determined

In New Mexico, attempts to massively increase alcohol taxation have stalled once more, with legislators deciding against increasing the alcohol excise tax or altering the distribution of the revenue toward treatment and prevention programs. The House Taxation and Revenue Committee was the battleground for two key pieces of legislation, but neither managed to progress beyond this point.

Following extensive discussions spanning two sessions, the first extending over three hours on Wednesday and a subsequent hour-long debate, Democratic Representative Cynthia Borrego expressed her reservations. “Probably more questions in my mind than answers,” Borrego remarked, highlighting the need for further refinement of the proposed bills.

One of the bills in question, House Bill 179, which proposed an extreme increase in the alcohol excise tax, was ultimately rejected by Borrego along with nine other committee members. The initial suggestion to elevate the tax by 25 cents per serving had already been scaled back to 12 cents in an effort to gain support.

The fate of the other proposed legislation, House Bill 213, was left undecided as the committee abstained from voting. The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Representative Micaela Lara Cadena from Las Cruces, indicated a deliberate choice to forego immediate action on the bill after fielding questions from her colleagues. This particular bill aimed to adjust the tax application from the wholesale to the retail level, thereby affecting the tax rate based on the price of the alcoholic beverages.

Both legislative proposals shared a common goal: to increase funding for the treatment and prevention of alcohol use disorders in New Mexico, a state grappling with the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths. Committee chair, Representative Derrick Lente of Sandia Pueblo, acknowledged the urgency of addressing the state’s alcohol-related issues but emphasized the necessity of a more thorough preparatory process involving all relevant stakeholders.

In the wake of the committee’s decision, Representative Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces, the proponent of HB 179, stood up to affirm the extensive preparatory work behind her bill, which had been in the pipeline for two years. Her interjection was met with an interruption from Lente.

This latest development continues New Mexico’s long-standing hesitancy on alcohol excise tax reform, with no adjustments made in over three decades despite persistent efforts.

Democrat ex-NM House Speaker Egolf finds himself in hot water again

In the scenic high desert city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a scandal involving former Speaker of the House Brian Egolf and his spouse, Kelly Egolf, has captured the public’s attention, as reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican. The duo is embroiled in accusations surrounding a cold-pressed juice business, with allegations of defrauding investors out of substantial sums. This case has become a focal point for discussions on ethics and transparency within the realms of business and politics.

The heart of this scandal lies in a lawsuit brought forth by notable members of the Santa Fe community, including those from the art and philanthropic sectors. These plaintiffs contend that the Egolfs engaged in a deliberate plot to mislead investors, manipulating the transfer of company assets without proper authorization. The company in question, New Mexico Fresh Foods, encountered financial difficulties, leading to a complex series of transactions that culminated in the assets being acquired by Invictus Unlimited, a firm under the Egolfs’ control.

The lawsuit highlights Kelly Egolf’s role as the manager and CEO of New Mexico Fresh Foods and her involvement with Verde Juice. It is alleged that she provided investors with inaccurate and overly optimistic information about the company’s financial health, encouraging further investment despite the company’s deteriorating financial situation.

The aggrieved investors, who collectively injected close to $4 million into the venture, are now seeking restitution for damages and legal expenses. They accuse the Egolfs of not fulfilling their fiduciary duties and engaging in deceptive practices. Their legal representation is adamant about holding both Brian and Kelly Egolf accountable for the financial debacle.

In response to these serious allegations, the Egolfs’ legal counsel, led by Mark Baker, has dismissed the lawsuit as baseless, asserting that it overlooks critical facts and unfairly targets the Egolfs and their efforts to support local entrepreneurship. This defense highlights the contentious nature of the case and the broader implications it has for the reputation of business and political figures in Santa Fe.

The unfolding of this lawsuit has sparked a broader debate on ethical conduct and the responsibility of leaders in maintaining trust within their communities. The allegations against the Egolfs serve as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of ethical lapses in business and political endeavors.

The narrative of Brian and Kelly Egolf’s involvement in this alleged scheme underscores the delicate balance between ambition and integrity. It raises pertinent questions about the influence of political stature on business ventures and the ethical obligations of those in positions of power.

As this legal drama continues to unfold, the Santa Fe community and observers nationwide are keenly watching, anticipating the resolution of this case and its implications for business ethics and political accountability.

At its essence, this scandal is a narrative about the betrayal of trust and the ramifications of deceptive practices. Investors who believed in the potential of a local enterprise feel misled, bearing the financial burden of a venture gone awry. This situation prompts a broader reflection on the significance of honesty and clarity in business dealings and the critical role of trust in fostering sustainable ventures.

Extreme Dem attack on illegal immigrant detention facilities fails

In a massive blow to Democrats in New Mexico, a legislative proposal aimed at prohibiting local detention centers from detaining illegal immigrants for federal civil immigration violations was defeated in the state Senate on a bipartisan vote against it.

The proposal, known as Senate Bill 145, sought to prevent public entities from forming or renewing contracts with federal immigration authorities for the detention of illegal aliens in the U.S. 

Despite support from some lawmakers, the bill was rejected with an 18-21 vote on the Senate floor, highlighting a division among the senators.

Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque), the bill’s sponsor, argued that these individuals who crossed into the U.S. illegally are treated as criminals despite breaking federal laws to enter the country. 

The debate also touched on the conditions within detention facilities, particularly the Torrance County center, which has faced a barrage of attacks by leftists for alleged unsanitary and unsafe conditions. 

The failure of the bill means that local governments in New Mexico can continue to enter into contracts with federal immigration authorities for detention purposes. 

The outcome has sparked disappointment among open-border leftists who argue that the debate was not rooted in factual evidence, and they vow to continue the fight against these facilities. 

The absence of two Democrat senators during the vote also drew criticism, with one being formally excused due to a conflict of interest and the others cited for other engagements, further fueling the controversy surrounding the bill’s defeat. Despite any anger over the vote, it still died. 

Republicans file to unseat Heinrich, Democrat U.S. reps.

On Tuesday, GOP candidates in Santa Fe initiated their campaign journey for the upcoming June 4 primary, aiming to challenge the current Democrat U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and to secure key congressional seats.

Nella Domenici, a businesswoman and the daughter of the late U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, formally submitted her candidacy petition to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office, eyeing the Republican nomination to confront Heinrich, who is vying for his third term in office.

In her early campaign declarations, Domenici has voiced her concerns over issues like inflation, crime, border control, and the welfare of children, though she opted not to provide further comments on Tuesday.

Her likely opponent in the GOP race is former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales, who has recently switched from the Democrat Party to pursue the Republican Senate nomination, also filing his candidacy on the same day.

Gonzales, who served as sheriff since 2014 in New Mexico’s largest county, collaborated with then-President Donald Trump in 2020 on law enforcement initiatives and ran for the Albuquerque mayor’s office in 2021, albeit unsuccessfully.

This election cycle, Democrats are on the defensive, striving to maintain their slim 51-49 Senate majority, with 23 seats up for grabs.

Heinrich previously secured his seat in 2018, winning approximately 54% of the vote in a contest against Republican Mick Rich and Libertarian Gary Johnson, a former Governor of New Mexico.

In the race for the congressional seat along the Mexico-U.S. border, Republicans are rallying behind a candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez. Yvette Herrell, looking to win back the 2nd District seat she lost in 2022, had her campaign manager submit her candidacy paperwork on Tuesday, making the district a focal point in the national debate as Republicans aim to maintain their narrow House majority.

Despite a legal challenge from the Republican Party against a Democrat-drawn gerrymandered congressional map that redefined the 2nd District, the fully Democrat-controlled New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the map.

Currently, Democrats hold sway in New Mexico, controlling both Senate seats, all congressional districts, and dominating state-wide elected positions as well as the state legislature.

In the 3rd Congressional District, former state Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage from Gadii’ahi has thrown her hat in the ring for the Republican nomination to face off against Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, who is seeking her third term. Clahchischilliage aims to tackle regulatory overreach and boost economic prospects, citing concerns over policies affecting gun control and the energy sector.

For the 1st Congressional District, two Republicans are vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Democrat Melanie Stansbury. Louie Sanchez, an Albuquerque business owner, emphasizes public safety, gun rights, and economic issues, while Steve Jones, a CPA from Ruidoso, pledges to address federal spending and the national deficit.

Heinrich steps in it again, responds to blowback from embarrassing ‘elk’ post

On Monday, far-left U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich responded to massive social media blowback from his now-deleted Sunday X post that identified a bighorn sheep in the background of a photo shared as an “elk” that he called a “beautiful and amazing animal.”

Later Sunday, Heinrich tried to play interference by sharing what he called “Frito pie with homemade elk adovada” — the same “beautiful” creature he claimed to “interact with.”

Heinrich blamed the painfully out-of-touch post on his staff, writing on Twitter, “Sometimes you send your team a bunch of photos at once and they get jumbled up.”

He added, “Both animals have made amazing recoveries in New Mexico thanks to the work of conservationists.” 

New Mexicans were quick to respond to the clearly manufactured story about his staff supposedly mixing up the pictures.

“Ah the good old blame the staff routine. Amazing leadership from the Senator from Maryland” wrote one X user.

Another opined, “So, um, you killed that elk that was extinct over a century ago thus erasing all the work of previous conservationists. I don’t really think it was your interns. Just own it.”

“It took you over 24 hours to come up with this lame excuse. The only thing needing recovery in NM are the people from all you corrupt politicians,” continued one other New Mexican.

Far-left Dem NM legislators advance bill to hike alcohol taxes by up to 651%

On Monday, legislators in Santa Fe, New Mexico, advanced House Bill 213, which aimed to modify the state’s approach to alcohol taxation. The proposed legislation intends to shift the taxation from being imposed on wholesale transactions to being applied at the retail level.

According to the Legislative Finance Committee, this adjustment might lead to an increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages and cocktails when bought in dining establishments while potentially reducing the prices of certain packaged liquors sold in retail outlets. The committee highlighted that alcohol taxes in New Mexico have remained unchanged for over two decades.

The bill also suggests an exemption from excise taxes for small-scale producers such as microbreweries, craft distilleries, and boutique wine producers, maintaining a tax framework that favors these small entities.

During a session of the House Health and Human Services Committee on February 5, discussions were held regarding the allocation of these funds. 

A major amendment was made to establish an “alcohol and substance use harms alleviation fund.” This fund is designed to allocate half of its resources to secure federal matching funds aimed at preventing alcohol and substance misuse, with the remaining funds directed toward supporting local counties and the Indian Affairs Department.

According to Errors of Enchantment by the Rio Grande Foundation, the bill would hike prices on beer and cider by 651 percent, wine by 376 percent, spirits by 353 percent, and fortified wine by 161 percent.

“We have previously discussed the fact that New Mexico’s taxes on alcohol are NOT low. In fact, our tax on wine is already 5th-highest in the nation,” wrote the outlet.

Despite the bill’s progression, not all feedback was positive. Representative Joanne J. Ferrary (D-Doña Ana), the bill’s sponsor, expressed concerns to the committee, arguing that the proposed tax rates on beer might be insufficient to curb underage and excessive drinking.

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