New Mexico

Kamala Harris’ husband visits ABQ to tout Biden’s costly $1.2 trillion law

Following Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech, Kamala Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, made a visit to Albuquerque to highlight updates being made at the Albuquerque International Sunport due to federal funds. 

At a press event held at the airport on Friday, Emhoff praised the infrastructural enhancements being made, aligning with the themes Joe Biden emphasized in his recent address, particularly the importance of investing in infrastructure for “community-wide” benefits.

The Sunport has benefited from approximately $20 million in federal grants from Biden’s infrastructure law, enacted in 2021. The federal boondoggle added $1.2 trillion to the national debt. 

These funds have been allocated to various airport projects, including the upgrade of passenger bridges, the revamp of the baggage claim area, and the improvement of electrical systems. 

Emhoff highlighted the significance of these upgrades, stating, “These new … bridges will ensure passengers and employees can get on and off aircraft safely,” and acknowledging the stress associated with baggage claim processes that these improvements will alleviate.

In addition to the grants, the Sunport utilizes around $66 million from Passenger Facility Charge funds, bringing the total federal investment in the airport’s renovation to $86 million. 

The infrastructure law has provided nearly $1 billion to airports nationwide, with the Sunport and others, such as Chicago’s O’Hare and Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin, being notable beneficiaries.

Lauren Dudley, the FAA’s assistant administrator, accompanied Emhoff and praised the Sunport as a model for airports nationwide. 

This is Emhoff’s second visit to Albuquerque after visiting the state in 2021.

Lujan Grisham vetoes law enforcement recruitment bill, other measures

In the 2024 legislative session, state legislators passed over 70 pieces of legislation, all of which required the governor’s signature to become official laws. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the majority of these bills, especially those she had specifically requested lawmakers to consider.

Despite the high rate of approval, two bills were “pocket vetoed” by the governor, meaning she let the deadline pass without signing them. These were Senate Bill 129, aimed at enhancing the implementation and reporting of cybersecurity procedures within government agencies, and Senate Bill 175, which sought to establish a fund for law enforcement recruitment. S.B. 129 passed the Senate 37-0 and the House 58-0. S.B. 175 received a 39-0 vote in the Senate and a 64-1 vote in the House, with far-left anti-law enforcement Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces) being the sole vote against. 

Although Senate Bill 175 did not receive approval, the governor allocated $25 million through the state budget for law enforcement and correctional officer recruitment.

Additionally, Governor Grisham outright vetoed Senate Bill 217, which proposed transferring over $80 million from the state’s severance tax bonding fund to the severance tax permanent fund. The governor reasoned that a previous bill had already significantly contributed to the severance tax permanent fund, rendering Senate Bill 217 unnecessary.

The governor also made selective vetoes within the massive $10.2 billion state budget, mainly targeting language that she believed would restrict spending inappropriately. For instance, she vetoed a stipulation that tied $1 million allocated to the General Services Department to the publication of building use fees and removed restrictions on the state healthcare authority’s capacity to expand Medicaid eligibility.

One notable veto was against language limiting the New Mexico Public Education Department’s power to mandate a 180-day school year. Following this, on March 7, the Public Education Department announced it would implement the 180-day requirement, despite the Legislature’s firm stand against such mandates.

N.M. city ranked among U.S. cities with smallest credit card debt increase

In a surprising move from the usual bad rankings for New Mexico, one city in the Land of Enchantment has been ranked among the top 10 cities with the smallest increase in credit card debt.

According to WalletHub, which did the study, “To determine the cities with the largest and smallest credit card debt increases, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities based on the latest consumer-finance data available from TransUnion and the Federal Reserve, adjusted for inflation.”

Las Cruces ranked as the city with the seventh lowest increase in the nation. The city’s residents had $11,452 in average credit card debt while the increase in this debt was only $351. 

Charlie Barks, Unsplash.

For comparison, the city with the largest increase in credit card debt is California’s Rancho Cucamonga, with a $3,360 increase and a $18,326 total balance.

Albuquerque was also ranked on the list with the 113th-highest increase in credit card debt. Residents had an average balance of $11,529, which increased by $1,116.

“Data used to create this ranking were collected as of February 16, 2024 from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve and TransUnion,” WalletHub wrote

Source: WalletHub

Dem NM land commissioner shakes down oil producers for more cash

The New Mexico State Land Office has announced a pause on leasing its most lucrative oil and natural gas sites in the Permian Basin after legislation during the 2024 Legislative Session to shake down oil and gas producers for more money via higher royalty rates failed. 

Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard highlighted the effort to increase the current top royalty rate of 20 percent to 25 percent, a move that has seen repeated setbacks despite the Democrats dominating both chambers of the Legislature.

The proposal aims to align New Mexico’s royalty rates with those of Texas, which can go as high as 25 percent for oil and gas extraction on state trust lands. The Permian Basin, a hotspot for drilling, spans southeastern New Mexico and parts of western Texas. Texas’ royalty rates haven’t risen since the late 1990s, so the sudden attempt to hike rates appears solely politically motivated.

Revenue from oil and gas royalties in New Mexico contributes to a substantial investment trust that supports public education, universities, and healthcare institutions. 

Garcia Richard emphasized her duty to optimize returns for the beneficiaries, stating, “I am a fiduciary on behalf of the school kids. It’s my job to make them the most money possible, and leasing these tracts below market rate means that school kids are subsidizing the oil and gas activity.” But with pauses on these leases, there will be no revenue coming in on the tracts in question.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, through its CEO Missi Currier, expressed concern that halting new leases could disadvantage both the industry and the public who benefit from the revenues. Currier noted that New Mexico’s existing tax and royalty framework is competitive with neighboring states. 

The Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico’s Executive Director Jim Winchester wrote following the news, “The State Land Office has unilaterally decided to cut off future revenues to state beneficiaries and the general fund by suspending new leasing of premium tracts. IPANM strongly opposes this action especially considering the decision was abruptly announced without any consideration of the economic impact to all New Mexicans.”

The suspension of lease sales, starting with up to six leases in March’s auction, represents a small fraction of total transactions but signals a significant shift in policy. Garcia Richard re-elected for a second term in 2022, acknowledged the short-term loss of revenue from bonus payments due to the suspension but likened the strategy to a homeowner waiting for a more favorable market to sell property, emphasizing the long-term financial benefits. Time will tell if Richard’s shakedown will work. 

Mom packs up family, flees NM over school’s woke ‘transgender closet’

Rachael Hein made the decision to move her family from New Mexico to Missouri, prompted by her concerns over policies at her daughter’s school, Las Cruces Centennial High School, particularly a facility known as “the transgender closet,” according to Fox News.

Hein told the outlet about her decision, mentioning how a Facebook post led her to investigate the gender-inclusive closet initiative at the high school. “I had to verify it because I don’t immediately take everything on Facebook at face value,” she said. Upon confirmation, Hein felt compelled to act, citing discomfort with the environment her daughter was being exposed to and the potential for her children to be influenced by messages she didn’t agree with.

The controversy stemmed from a grant awarded to the high school by the It Gets Better organization in 2022, aimed at supporting trans and gender non-conforming students by providing a gender-inclusive space stocked with affirming supplies and clothing.

Jfullbright31, Wiki Commons.

Hein’s dissatisfaction with the educational system wasn’t new. The pandemic had already made her more engaged with her children’s schooling, leading her to experiment with homeschooling and online education. The decision to add 10 extra days to the school calendar for the 2022-2023 year, described by Hein as “party days,” added to her frustration, feeling they lacked educational value.

Hein was particularly disillusioned with the response from school boards and education officials, feeling her concerns were acknowledged but not genuinely considered. “It seemed like they were on a predetermined course, regardless of community feedback,” she expressed.

Cardozo School of Law. dyjpt, Wiki Commons.

The move to Missouri represented a significant shift for Hein and her family, who found the new environment more receptive to parental involvement and community engagement. “It’s a different vibe here; more communal and safer for my kids to just be kids,” Hein noted.

Despite her departure from Las Cruces, Hein encouraged those remaining to stay active and involved in the educational conversation. “Change only happens when people speak up and participate, rather than staying silent on the sidelines,” she advised.

Fox News Digital sought a comment from Las Cruces Centennial High School, which has not yet provided a response.

On podcast, MLG admits to buying votes and talks about the ‘New World Order’

In a recent podcast interview with Greg Sargent of “The New Republic,” a far-leftist group, Democrat New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham stirred controversy with statements admitting to blatant voter manipulation and hypocrisy on key issues. Amidst an array of contentious topics, Lujan Grisham’s remarks on the “New World Order” and her reflections on policy and demographic responses drew particular attention.

Lujan Grisham, who made the controversial decision to remove National Guard troops from the border early in her tenure, said during the interview that more politicians need to embrace unconstitutional public health orders to get issues like immigration fixed. 

“I think southwestern governors can show an impact in workforce development, in public safety and security, and in ways that are more meaningful but can sort of set the model in the same way. Not every state should or will embrace a public health order to deal with particular high-cost, high-stakes gun violence emergencies in their communities. But I think you’ll see them talk about it in more of a public health context, and I think this way, it isn’t a fight between extremism on either side of an issue,” she said.

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The governor added, “The same issues are expected to be addressed here, and Hispanics and Latinos both want that. For example, if I had to wait in line to come here, then other people should too. But they also recognize you can’t get a visa anymore. They recognize that all of the drama about all the nefarious activity at the border — they recognize that more of that nefarious activity is organized crime at ports of entry.” 

However, she nor her legislative allies have proposed any legislative action to alleviate the border issue. At the same time, political leaders like State Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo) have led the Republican effort to help secure the state’s border, which has fallen on deaf ears to Democrats in the Legislature.

Her interview highlighted what many see as a pattern of failing to address the tangible crisis at the border — a crisis amplified by her early actions as governor, which directly contributed to the current state of affairs.

“I’m not gonna give it up now for this extremism effort in this country and around the world,” Grisham declared, framing her political stances as a fight against what she labeled as a rise in fascism and sexism.

It is notable that the governor repeatedly tried to declare Republicans as “extreme,” while during her tenure as governor, she has pushed for the most extremist policies in the country, including abortion up-to-birth laws, executive orders and bills banning all gun possession, hiking prices on gas, and enacting socialist programs that are costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

“I see it in my state with, you know, MAGA extremists, not with everyone else, but certainly there. And I can see that the risks are greater for me as I campaign or go out publicly. They are really angry, but I think it’s intimidation and insecurity and a New World Order, which I hate using that language. But we’re talking about fascism and sexism and inequality, and I think, uh, it somehow makes some people feel better about themselves. And Trump plays into that, I think, very effectively, but it’s incredibly dangerous,” she told Sargent.

When asked about citizens exercising the right to vote and potential fears of violence during the 2024 elections, Lujan Grisham said, “I hope not, but I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibilities. Just look at the Trump era pre-, during, and post-COVID. Anyone making any policy decisions was at risk. Certainly, I was threatened. Any of our marches or protests were met with far too many individuals who were very angry and were carrying automatic weapons and rifles that does not create an environment where people can, in fact, peacefully protest. That level of intimidation is purposeful.”

It is worth noting that the governor applauded Black Lives Matter/Antifa rioters who protested in the streets and bucked her own public health orders during her years-long COVID-19 lockdown. In her above statement, she also incorrectly claims that New Mexicans counter-protested these marches and riots with “automatic weapons,” which did not happen. Automatic weapons are illegal in the United States, per federal law. 

The governor did not shy away from touting her socialist educational policies, implying that initiatives such as “free” college and pre-k were key to garnering votes, particularly from younger demographics. She said, “So, in New Mexico, free college, free daycare, free universal pre-k, leaning in to make sure that every New Mexican reads, not just at but above grade average, which is something we haven’t leaned into.”

She then admitted, “And I think with the rhetoric with every other issue except the economy, Biden needs to lean in hard for his successes there. He needs to lean in hard for education. I will tell you, I got voters in record numbers — younger voters — because of free college,” Lujan Grisham stated, in an admission that these socialist programs are actually a mechanism to buy votes.

Her commentary also ventured into the realm of identity politics, criticizing Hispanic men who didn’t support her while at the same time trying to court their votes. “I had economic messaging work to do with Hispanic men, in particular, in rural areas,” she confessed, acknowledging a need to recalibrate her strategy to appeal to this demographic.

The interview also saw Lujan Grisham attacking her own constituency, specifically Hispanic men in rural areas, suggesting that their disapproval of her stemmed from outdated sexist ideologies supposedly revived by the Trump era. She accused MAGA supporters of sexism and intimidation, categorizing their political passion as “MAGA fury” and claiming it was rooted in a fear of losing power.

Moreover, Lujan Grisham criticized the GOP’s approach to immigration, framing it as failure and fear-mongering. “They would actually want a candidate not to poison the debate and not to create fear and anger, which is racist, but to actually resolve some of the problems,” she said, trying to position herself as the more reasonable and solution-oriented leader despite her administration flatly ignoring border policies.

Also, in the interview, Sargent asked the governor about the bill she just signed, S.B. 5, banning some guns at polling places and if it was meant to increase public safety, specifically at the polls.

She responded, “Certainly not in the day-to-day violence that we’re seeing playing out in far too many communities in New Mexico. But if you’re gonna take measures and you’re gonna focus on — we all have a constitutional right to be safe at work and at our churches, grocery stores, movie theaters, and homes and neighborhoods, then I think it’s really valuable we have this piece of legislation that I signed into law yesterday that says ‘Look, we care about polling workers and we care about creating safe spaces for people to exercise their right and privilege to vote.’”

It is unclear why the governor is now creating new constitutional “rights” when she herself claimed while signing an illegal, anti-gun executive order that no constitutional right, including her oath of office, is “absolute.” She also openly admitted that the anti-gun law relating to polling places would “certainly not” help alleviate crime, proving it was just another Democrat feel-good messaging bill.

The governor’s dialogue with Sargent revealed much about her political strategy and low views about her constituents. Her candidness may resonate with the fringes of her base. However, her words appear to only evidence her prioritization of partisanship and political gamesmanship over the substantive issues facing New Mexico and the nation.

Gabe Vasquez votes against bipartisan ‘Laken Riley Act’ immigration bill

In a decisive move, the House approved the Laken Riley Act, mandating that immigration authorities detain non-citizens charged with crimes. This measure is seen as a rebuke to the current administration’s immigration policies. Despite the bipartisan nature of the bill, with 37 Democrats voting in favor, it passed mainly with Republican support, the final count being 251-170.

The act, named after Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student from the University of Georgia who was allegedly killed by an immigrant with a previous arrest for illegal border crossing, has put immigration and border security firmly on the legislative agenda. As the nation approaches Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, Republicans are sharpening their focus on immigration, challenging the administration’s approach to border management.

“The Laken Riley Act would help prevent future tragedies. If Senator Schumer and [Joe] Biden care to protect Americans and are serious about securing the border, they will bring this legislation up for a vote and sign it into law immediately,” House Speaker Mike Johnson stated.

However, the passage of this bill has highlighted stark divisions among legislators, with far-left, open-borders Representative Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico’s Second Congressional District, which runs along the border, voting against the life-saving legislation. His vote has been met with intense criticism from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

“Americans murdered in cold blood – but Gabe Vasquez does not care about the safety of his community. As Joe Biden’s lackey in the House, Vasquez allowed for this open border crisis to flourish and this vote means he has blood on his hands,” NRCC Spokeswoman Delanie Bomar expressed in a scathing rebuke. Other Democrat Reps. Melanie Stansbury and Teresa Leger Fernandez voted against the bill.

The Laken Riley Act, at its core, is designed to mandate that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detain migrants arrested for committing a crime. Riley’s tragic death has ignited a firestorm among Republicans, who cite it as a preventable consequence of what they perceive as the Biden administration’s failed border security policies. They have called for a reinstatement of more stringent border measures from the previous administration.

The issue of immigration policy has become increasingly charged as Republicans press Joe Biden to address the issue directly in his State of the Union speech, suggesting that a failure to mention victims like Riley would signify a neglect of the real-world impacts of immigration policy.

While Riley’s parents declined an invitation to attend the State of the Union, Representative Mike Collins of Georgia honored them with a moment of silence on the House floor, leaving a vacant seat to represent not just Riley but all American victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

As the debate continues, Representative Vasquez’s vote is likely to be an election issue, especially due to the Second Congressional District direcly harmed by his inaction on the border crisis. GOP former Congresswoman Yvette Herrell is the Republican nominee to take on Vasquez in November. 

Rebuking families and teachers, Lujan Grisham’s PED OKs harsh mandates

Far-left Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) has announced a new rule to enforce a mandatory 180-day school calendar, stirring fury among educators, administrators, and lawmakers. While the rule aims to standardize instructional time across the state, exemptions have been included for certain schools, acknowledging the major pushback from the educational community.

Public Education Secretary Arsenio Romero articulated the Department’s stance, “In order to equalize instructional time across the state, we have chosen to adopt the 180-day calendar rule. We must improve student outcomes across the state, our students deserve better, and that begins with quality instructional time in the classroom.”

This adjustment is slated to be implemented in the 2024-25 academic year. Notably, the Santa Fe Public Schools had preemptively planned for such a change, indicating an adaptation of the school year calendar to fit the new requirements by modifying holiday breaks and other scheduled closures.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has been a vocal advocate for this expansion of the school year, reiterating her commitment to a 180-day school year in her State of the State address and displaying her stance by vetoing language in the budget that would have precluded her from enacting the 180-day rule.

However, this proposal has been met with substantial resistance from the educational sector, including the state’s teacher’s unions, who came out in full force against the mandate. A large number of teachers and school administrators voiced their dissent at a public hearing, labeling the move as an overextension of the Public Education Department’s authority. This sentiment was echoed in the thousands of written comments submitted in opposition to the rule change.

Mary Parr-Sánchez, president of the New Mexico branch of the National Education Association teacher’s union, underscored the opposition, stating, “We believe that [the calendar] is a local decision. There was public outcry, and educators were included in that outcry.”

Legislators also criticized the rule, suggesting it contradicts the Legislature’s intention and the principle of local autonomy in decision-making. The 2023 bill passed by both legislative chambers advocated for increased school time measured in hours rather than days.

Concerns have also been raised about the potential erosion of public trust in state decision-making. House Education Committee Chairman Andrés Romero voiced his apprehensions: “I really fear for that, that they’re not going to trust what the state is doing,” alluding to the close timing between the legislative extension of the school year and the new rule’s introduction, per the Santa Fe New Mexican.

See what Gov. Lujan Grisham vetoed from her massive $10.2 billion budget

Democrat New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham enacted numerous line-item vetoes in the massive $10.2 billion House Bill 2 budget. Wednesday was the last day to sign or veto legislation otherwise it is by default pocket vetoed.

The governor’s vetoes, reflecting a strategic adjustment of the executive branch’s budgetary powers, axed several legislated spending specifics, reducing the Legislature’s prescribed utilization of funds.

She wrote in her veto message, “…I have vetoed parts of the Act that impermissibly intrude into the executive managerial function. I object to provisions in the Act that unduly restrict appropriations to specified types of expenditures. These restrictions on agency functions exceed the Legislature’s proper, constitutionally defined role, unduly constraining the Executive’s ability to effectively administer programs to meet the State’s needs.”

Governor Grisham also reduced various reporting obligations of executive agencies, continuing her trend of continuing her quest for less oversight from the Legislature.

In a turn that veered from her administration’s usual narrative, Governor Grisham removed numerous mentions of “evidence-based” services, an approach her office often champions for its program expansions.

Notably, the governor refrained from vetoing the $6 million allocated for legislative district staffing.

While only a single junior appropriation item was entirely eliminated, Governor Grisham revised numerous others, subtly redirecting the flow and application of funds.

The governor’s vetoes affected a wide array of appropriations and mandates, ranging from education, health, infrastructure, to cultural initiatives. This included the removal of restrictions on the Department of Education regarding the number of instructional days and school week configurations, as well as blocking expansions in Medicaid eligibility without legislative consent.

A significant $50 million destined for the unestablished Indian Education Trust Fund was struck down, alongside a $24 million earmark for a Paid Family and Medical Leave Act bill, which did not pass in the legislative session.

Other notable vetoes targeted special appropriations for health facilities in Taos County and Tucumcari, Quay County, with the word “construction” being specifically removed.

The Veterans Services Department faced a cut regarding a mobile unit meant to expand outreach services. At the same time, earmarks for the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo, as well as for the University of New Mexico’s School of Public Health, were also scrapped.

Changes to junior appropriations spanned a spectrum from public-private partnerships to cultural events, highlighting the governor’s nuanced approach to budget management.

To read the governor’s full executive veto message, it is available linked here. The final version of H.B. 2 is linked here under “Final Version.”

Jury delivers guilty verdict for armorer in deadly Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ case

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” in October 2021. Despite facing allegations of evidence tampering related to a supposed cocaine exchange, the jury acquitted her of this charge. 

The verdict came swiftly from a Santa Fe County jury after less than three hours of deliberation, leading to Gutierrez-Reed’s immediate custody pending sentencing, where she could face up to 18 months in prison.

As the film’s armorer, Gutierrez-Reed was responsible for the firearms used on set. The prosecution argued that her negligence in allowing live ammunition to mix with prop rounds directly led to the tragic incident, where a live bullet discharged from a revolver held by Alec Baldwin resulted in Hutchins’ untimely death. 

Baldwin, who faces similar charges, has pled not guilty, with his trial set for July.

The First Judicial District Attorney’s Office has expressed its dedication to seeking justice for Hutchins’ family, highlighting the thorough investigation that underpinned the prosecution’s case. The trial featured extensive testimonies and evidence, educating jurors on firearms handling in film productions. 

The defense likened Gutierrez-Reed’s mistake to a medical error, asserting her innocence due to the lack of willful disregard for safety. However, the prosecution countered by presenting evidence suggesting Gutierrez-Reed was the source of the live ammunition found on set, criticizing her professionalism and safety protocols. 

The jury also had the option to consider a lesser charge related to negligent firearm use, but ultimately convicted Gutierrez-Reed of involuntary manslaughter.

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