Politics

Dems kill slew of GOP bills to curb crime, hold fentanyl dealers accountable

On Tuesday, Democrats in the New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee killed a slew of bills sponsored by Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque) that would curb crime relating to fentanyl trafficking, illegal firearm trafficking, and retail theft.

Democrats, on party-line votes, killed all five of Rehm’s bills, even a bill that would have enhanced sentencing for those trafficking 29 fentanyl pills or greater. Rehm made clear he was open to changing the number of fentanyl pills a dealer was peddling, but despite reasonable efforts, the bill died on a 4-2 vote.

Bills that would penalize those who conducted illegal activity while trafficking firearms also died on 4-2 votes, with Democrats and far-left groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claiming the incarceration of these hardened criminals would be bad for New Mexico.

Rehm said following the committee hearing, “Today the progressives made clear that they are unwilling to lock up felons with illegal firearms, but they are willing to make felons out of law-abiding gun owners.” 

He added, “Just days ago, we joined the Governor in her office, with statewide media, for productive talks about bipartisan action against crime and today’s disappointing votes reveal that House Democrats on the House Consumer & Public Affairs committee care little about improving public safety in meaningful ways. These political tactics are highly frustrating to the many victims of crime that spend their personal time advocating in Santa Fe for a safer New Mexico.”

Republican Reps. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) and John Block (R-Alamogordo) made extensive arguments to pass the bills, but even bills that had Democrat co-sponsors, such as H.B. 59 regarding firearms trafficking, were tabled by the Democrats on the committee. 

This development comes after Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a press conference with Republicans earlier this month, claiming to want to curb crime. Unfortunately, it appears such bipartisan talks about crime are now dead-on-arrival, at least in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. 

One of MLG’s PRC commissioners recuses himself from PNM case

Under the newly restructured New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) that is now appointed by the governor, Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is already hitting a roadblock with one of her picks.

New PRC Commissioner Patrick O’Connell recused himself from merger talks between the global energy company Iberdrola’s subsidiary Avangrid and the Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM). 

In a Friday filing, O’Connell “cited the reason for his voluntary recusal as previous testimony he gave on behalf of a proposed settlement related to the merger while he worked for an environmental group. O’Connell also had previously served as a resource planner for Public Service Co. of New Mexico,” according to Fox News

The $8 billion merger is currently pending in the New Mexico Supreme Court after the previous pre-governor-appointed PRC rejected the acquisition. 

Now, only the two commissioners left on the PRC will consider the merger, “Gabriel Aguilera, who worked for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and James Ellison Jr., a principal analyst from Sandia National Laboratories,” as the report notes. 

It further notes, “Tamer Cetin, economics advisor to the Public Regulation Commission, noted in the report that the merger may create a monopolistic electricity market in New Mexico in which Avangrid could ‘dominate all the segments from generation to transmission, distribution, wholesale and retail.’” 

The new Public Regulation Commission would also be in charge of controversial rate hike cases from PNM, which could affect hundreds of thousands of customers statewide. 

Anti-gun bills to be heard in legislative committees Monday

On Monday, multiple anti-gun bills will be heard in New Mexico legislative committees, with Second Amendment-supportive groups urging the public to take action and testify in committee hearings. 

New Mexico Shooting Sports Association (NMSSA) writes, “First, HB9, the firearm owner liability and mandatory storage bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee starting at 1:30pm in Room 309 (Zoom Link). The bill will impose criminal penalties on gun owners if a third-party minor uses their firearm to commit a crime or injure someone.”

H.B. 9 previously passed the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on a 4-2 vote, with Republican Reps. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) and John Block (Alamogordo) opposing the measure after a lengthy question and answer session with the sponsor, Rep. Pamelya Herndon (D-Bernalillo). 

“Second, SB116, the proposed ban on anyone under 21 from purchasing or owning a semiautomatic firearm will be heard in the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee starting at 1:30pm in Room 311 (Zoom Link). Below is the contact info for members of both committees. NMSSA is opposed to both bills.” 

NMSSA adds, “Another bill we are watching was filed today. HB224 would make it illegal to carry a firearm while drunk or high in a city of more than 90,000 people – yes that is really in the bill. But more importantly, it would make it a crime to shoot a gun within 150 yards of a building without the permission of the building’s owner. The bill would shut down all indoor shooting ranges, and some outdoor ranges in our state as well. Acts of self-defense would not be exempt either.” 

The group urges New Mexicans to contact legislators, who can be reached below: 

House Judiciary Committee

Representative Christine Chandler – (D) christine.chandler@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4411

Representative Andrea Romero – (D) andrea@andrearomero.com 505-986-4243

Representative William “Bill” R. Rehm – (R) bill.rehm@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4214

Representative Eliseo Lee Alcon – (D) eliseo.alcon@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4416

Representative Gail Chasey – (D) gail@gailchasey.com 505-986-4777

Representative T. Ryan Lane – (R) RYAN@LANEFORLIBERTY.COM 505-986-4758

Representative Javier Martínez – (D) javier.martinez@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4782

Representative Matthew McQueen – (D) matthew.mcqueen@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4423

Representative Greg Nibert – (R) greg.nibert@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4211

Representative Andrea Reeb – (R) Andrea.Reeb@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4215

Representative Reena Szczepanski – (D) reena.szczepanski@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4777

Senate Heath and Public Affairs Committee

Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino – (D) jortizyp@msn.com 505-986-4482

Senator Bill Tallman – (D) bill.tallman@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4373

Senator Gregg Schmedes – (R) gregg.schmedes@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4395

Senator David M. Gallegos – (R) david@ramirezandsonsinc.com 505-986-4278

Senator Martin Hickey – (D) martin.hickey@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4513

Senator Stuart Ingle – (R) stuart.ingle@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4702

Senator Antonio Maestas – (D) antonio.maestas@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4726

Senator Brenda G. McKenna – (D) brenda.mckenna@nmlegis.gov  505-986-4301
Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez – (D) a.sedillolopez@nmlegis.gov 505-986-4389

NMPED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus quits Lujan Grisham administration

On Saturday, Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) secretary, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, announced his departure from the governor’s administration. He was first appointed to the post in 2021. 

“The state of public education in New Mexico is in a better place than ever because of Kurt’s dedication, and I wish him a very happy and well-deserved retirement,” claimed Lujan Grisham, whose PED ranks as the worst of every other state and the District of Columbia.

“I am deeply proud to have given my best to this job, but at this time I have a critical need to focus on my family and health,” Steinhaus said in a statement, as reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican. “I am grateful to the governor for giving me the opportunity to finish my career working on behalf of the state of New Mexico, and I know that she will continue to work to deliver the best possible public education system for New Mexico students, educators, and families.”

Steinhaus began his education career working for Alamogordo Public Schools, then at Santa Fe Community College, the University of New Mexico, and the Los Alamos Public Schools.

Steinhaus’ departure comes just one day following the announcement that New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary David Scrase, M.D., was also quitting.

Lujan Grisham’s General Services Department secretary, John Garcia, is also leaving on February 4, 2023. 

Lujan Grisham’s Human Services Dept. Secretary David Scrase quits

On Friday, it was announced that Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s New Mexico Human Services Secretary, David Scrase, M.D., was stepping down from his post, one of the few cabinet members who has lasted throughout the governor’s reign beginning in 2019.

In a statement, Scrase said, “It has been an incredible honor to work for the Governor for the past four years.”

“I am proud of all that we have accomplished together,” he wrote, touting his response to COVID-19. He added, “I feel extremely privileged and cherish the four years working with the outstanding leaders and employees at HSD. Likewise, the several years that I spent with the Department of Health and their amazing leaders and staff was another high point in my life.”

“In addition to the support and encouragement that I have received from both departments, I have received continual and strong support from members of the Legislature as well, and for that I am very grateful. I have made many lifelong friends and will take wonderful memories into my retirement — And, of course, I could not possibly have endured the challenges of the past four years without the support of my wife Chantel and my family. I am deeply grateful for everyone with whom I have crossed paths during this time.”

During the pandemic, Scrase refused to lift lockdown orders and insisted New Mexicans must take the coronavirus vaccine. He also worked to keep the state’s indoor mask mandates in place. 

In 2021, Scrase said restrictive mask mandates and lockdowns could last for years into the future. 

Tucker Carlson interviews Rep. Lord about bill to castrate pedophiles 

On Thursday night, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson of Tucker Carlson Tonight interviewed New Mexico state Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) about a bill, H.B. 128,  co-sponsored by Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo) to chemically castrate pedophiles as a requirement for parole. 

Lord told Carlson, “In New Mexico, the majority of the people in our state are moderate Democrats, but unfortunately, you’ve got some progressive Democrats that are pushing forward some radical ideology. So, my first session when I was up here, there [were] quite a few bills to be soft on criminals, let criminals out, [and] give them special things you wouldn’t normally have. So, I kept presenting amendments that said, ‘Okay, you want to let the criminals out early. How about not pedophiles? How about we don’t be nice and don’t give them special treatment?’” She said, “And every amendment I presented was shot down.” 

“So, it really got me thinking, so what can I do? What’s something I can do in this next session when I got reelected, what can I do? And I happened to see this bill in Tennessee that was based off the Alabama bill on chemical castration. I looked at it and said, ‘This is a great idea. This is… a tool we can use to keep these pedophiles away from our children.’” 

“I just don’t want pedophiles to get any special treatment or to be allowed early of out of prison,” she concluded.

The bill notes, “A person required to undergo chemical castration treatment shall begin the treatment not less than one month prior to the person’s release from custody of the corrections department and shall continue receiving treatment until the court determines the treatment is no longer necessary. The treatment shall be administered by the department of health.”

Furthermore, the offender must eat the cost of the chemical castration in addition to any court costs. 

Another section of the proposed bill reads, “In addition to any condition of parole under Subsection A of this section, as a condition of parole, a person released on parole under this section shall authorize the department of health to share with the parole board all medical records relating to the person’s chemical castration treatment. A person may elect to stop receiving the treatment at any time and may not be forced to receive the treatment; provided that the refusal shall constitute a violation of the person’s parole and the person shall be immediately remanded to the custody of the corrections department for the remainder of the sentence from which the person was paroled.” 

WATCH:

Photo: Screenshot via Fox News.

Bill limiting governor’s emergency powers passes through first committee 

On Wednesday, H.B. 80, sponsored by Rep. Greg Nibert (R-Chaves), passed through its first committee with vast bipartisan support. The bill would limit the New Mexico governor’s emergency powers to 90 days for a state of emergency, with intervention by the legislature.

The bill notes, “The special session called pursuant to Subsection A of this section shall convene no later than the ninetieth day after the initial declaration of the state of emergency.” 

During the House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee hearing, Nibert noted how he had consistently worked on this bill for years, beginning in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the governor commenced lockdowns via public health emergency orders. He noted how he has worked with former Rep. Daymon Ely (Sandoval, Bernalillo), who has been a longtime partner and co-sponsor on the bill.

All members of the public who testified on the bill signaled support for it, with no opposition whatsoever from the audience. 

House Majority Leader Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo) made the case in the committee that the legislature was not a co-equal branch of government with the governor and thus must first “modernize” before making any such change. Others argued that this is exactly how to strengthen the legislative branch while keeping both the governor and the legislature accountable.

On the motion to pass the bill, all members but Chasey supported advancing the legislation.

The votes in support included Chairwoman D. Wonda Johnson (D-McKinley and San Juan), Vice Chair Natalie Figueroa (D-Bernalillo), Rep. Martin Zamora (R-Curry, DeBaca, Guadalupe, Roosevelt, and San Miguel), Rep. Janelle Anyanonu (D-Bernalillo), Rep. John Block (R-Otero), Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Bernalill0), Rep. Charlotte Little (D-Bernalill0), and Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Bernalillo).

Dems looking to resurrect extremist pro-voter fraud bill

Democrats are planning on resurrecting the failed bill they tried to pass in the last legislative session that was filibustered down by Republicans in the final hours. Sen. Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) spoke for hours on the final day of the 2022 Legislative Session, successfully blocking the legislation.

The previous piece of legislation, 2022’s H.B. 144, included ballot harvesting, unsecured ballot drop boxes for ballot stuffing, and automatic voter registration, among other measures to make New Mexico elections less secure.

The bill started out as a two-page simple elections bill but was amended by Democrats in the final hours to add hundreds of pages of regulations that made New Mexico elections extremely at risk of more fraud. 

Democrat Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said to the Santa Fe New Mexican, “This legislation, I think, is even better because it has really been spearheaded and brought to life by the advocacy community [that wants] to continue to sort of pick up the ball and continue to move it forward on advancing voting rights here in New Mexico.”

According to the report, “The new chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, is one of the sponsors of the voting rights legislation, along with Martínez and House Majority Leader Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque.” 

Duhigg claimed the bill will “protect the health of our democracy by helping ensure that here in New Mexico every eligible voter has access to the ballot and that every vote is freely cast and fairly counted.”

Republican Senate Leader Greg Baca of Belen said, “Last year, we followed the lead of our County Clerks and unanimously passed a bipartisan election bill out of the Senate that strengthened voter rights and improved election security,” but it was hijacked by the Democrat majority.

It is unclear if the bill will pass this legislative session, but if it does, it should expect roadblocks in the state Senate and the House from Republicans opposed to making it hard to cheat in elections. 

AG Torrez demands NM Supreme Court strike down pro-life ordinances

On Monday, newly elected Democrat New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to intervene to overturn pro-life “sanctuary” ordinances passed by multiple county commissions and city governing boards.

KOB 4 reported, “At a news conference, Torrez said the ordinances are significant even in regions with no abortion clinics because they threaten to restrict access to reproductive health care in people’s homes. More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery.” 

“This is not Texas. Our State Constitution does not allow cities, counties or private citizens to restrict women’s reproductive rights,” Torrez claimed in a statement. “Today’s action sends a strong message that my office will use every available tool to swiftly and decisively uphold individual liberties against unconstitutional overreach.”

Torrez’s action targets Roosevelt and Lea counties and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis in eastern New Mexico.

“In his filing, Torrez argues that the New Mexico Constitution provides broader protection of individual rights than the U.S. Constitution — and that the local ordinances violate New Mexicans’ inherent rights, liberty and privacy,” the report noted.

On Monday, the City of Eunice in Lea County passed a pro-life ordinance with a 7-0 vote. 

Pro-life advocate Mark Lee Dickson wrote on Facebook, “Tonight, Eunice, New Mexico (pop. 3,026) became the THIRD sanctuary city for the unborn in New Mexico and the SIXTY-FIFTH sanctuary city for the unborn in the United States! Eunice was also the FIRST city to pass such an ordinance since the State of New Mexico filed suit against the two cities and two counties in New Mexico which have passed similar ordinances.”

It is unclear if the state Supreme Court will take up pro-abortion Attorney General Torrez’s request since the ordinances are based on federal, not state laws that protect the sanctity of life in the womb.

Behar concocts conspiracy about ‘Rust’ shooting special prosecutor

Far-left The View co-host Joy Behar claimed Friday that state Rep. Andrea Reeb (R-Clovis), the former district attorney for the Ninth Judicial District, should be booted from the legal team as special prosecutor of the investigation into October 2021’s fatal shooting on the set of the movie Rust

Behar claimed that Reeb being “a big Republican” means she should be booted from investigating leftist actor Alec Baldwin, who shot multiple crew members, leading to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Democratic Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies decided to charge Baldwin and head armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed for Hutchins’ death.

“The DA [special prosecutor] who is indicting him, or whatever the legal term is right now, she’s a big Republican. I’m only saying this because Alec Baldwin is a target for Republicans,” Behar claimed. “They cannot stand him. I’m not saying anything more than that.”

Behar was forced to issue a correction after the commercial break that she mixed up the Democratic district attorney, Carmack-Altwies, with Reeb, a Republican.

“I get them mixed up sometimes. So, sue me,” she said.

Carmark-Altwies told CNN in an interview Thursday that the investigation found there is “probable cause” to charge Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed because of lacking “safety standards” on the set. She said the tragedy would have been prevented if Baldwin and the others charged had “done their jobs.”

Photo credit: Walt Disney Television.