AG Torrez wants to amp up anti-gun law, further infringe on constitutional rights

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Wednesday that he wants the Legislature to strengthen the state’s anti-gun red flag law, citing an incident near a Santa Fe elementary school. The incident involved a man near César Chávez Elementary School who was seen wearing camouflage clothing, a bulletproof vest, and carrying multiple magazines of ammunition.

Torrez highlighted the response of the Santa Fe Police Department to the potential threat, emphasizing the man’s concerning history of shooting people with BB guns, depression, drug use, and a strong dislike for law enforcement. Despite attempts to obtain an extreme risk firearm protection order from the First Judicial District Court, the request was initially granted temporarily but later denied by District Judge Sylvia LaMar. The judge ruled that the petition failed to meet statutory requirements because the reporting party was a law enforcement officer and not a family member or close associate.

The red flag law, established in 2020, aims to identify mentally unstable individuals who own firearms and may pose a risk to themselves or others. However, the debate revolves around the language concerning who can be a reporting party and petition the court for a protection order. Torrez criticized the interpretation discrepancies among district judges despite an opinion issued by the Attorney General’s Office in 2021, clarifying that law enforcement officials can act as reporting parties.

Torrez’s office has filed a petition with the New Mexico Court of Appeals to overturn the District Court’s ruling. He emphasized the importance of addressing gaps in the law to prevent future tragedies, pointing to the need for law enforcement officials to be proactive in reporting potential threats.

In response to the incident and the challenges faced in the legal process, lawmakers, including Democrat Rep. Joy Garratt, plan to introduce revisions to the law during the upcoming legislative session in January. Garratt emphasized the value of police officers as reporting parties and the intention to include an emergency clause in the law to address immediacy.

Torrez outlined a plan for training law enforcement officials to be proactive in reporting individuals, eliminating the 48-hour waiting period for voluntary firearm removal from dangerous individuals, and mandating courts to notify law enforcement when someone with firearms is involuntarily committed or deemed unfit for trial due to mental incompetence.

While Torrez claimed there is urgency in closing supposed gaps in the law, the initial “red flag” legislation and any subsequent changes are an infringement upon constitutional rights to due process. 

Previously, Torrez refused to defend Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s unconstitutional order banning all gun possession in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, calling it “unconstitutional,” but now supports strengthening unconstitutional proposals to usurp New Mexicans’ constitutional rights.

2023 NM elections a mixed bag, key conservative wins in school board races

On Tuesday, New Mexicans headed to the polls for the 2023 local elections, where they voted on municipal and school board races, as well as ballot questions.

In some areas of the state, conservatives saw gains for school board seats, with Republicans Shannan Wright, Brandy Murphy, and Craig Danekas defeating three leftist incumbents on the Alamogordo Public School Board — shifting the board from a 4-1 leftist majority to a 4-1 conservative majority, with leftist Amber Ross being the only one left on the board. She is not up for reelection until 2025. The far-left American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Alamogordo union chapter endorsed all three victorious candidates’ incumbent opponents.

However, in Albuquerque, Republican school board member Peggy Muller-Aragón lost a close race by two percentage points behind Ronalda Tome-Warito. With 10,400 votes counted at that point, Muller-Aragón secured 4,149 votes, while Tome-Warito received 4,404. The Albuquerque school board election featured eight candidates competing for three school board seats, although it is traditionally a seven-member panel. 

However, despite their success in the race against Muller-Aragón, the teachers union did not appear to retain current board President Yolanda Montoya-Cordova’s seat, leaving the teachers unions without a majority on the board.

On the Albuquerque City Council, Councilor Brook Bassan, a Republican, appeared to defeat a Democrat challenger narrowly. In an open seat, Republican Dan Champine defeated Democrat Idalia Lechuga-Tena. 

In another election race, the mayoral contest in Las Cruces required six rounds of ranked-choice voting to determine the winner. Eric Enriquez, a former fire chief and moderate Democrat, emerged victorious in the sixth round, securing 52.32% of the vote and defeating current District 1 City Counselor Kasandra Gandara, who received 47.68% of the vote. 

The mayoral race in Las Cruces featured seven candidates vying to replace the long-time Mayor Ken Miyagishima, who did not seek reelection. 

In Santa Fe’s city council races, the results indicated no major upsets in the political balance on the City Council. The election took place in a year when far-left Democrat Mayor Alan Webber was not on the ballot, but his performance remained a significant topic of discussion. Candidates were asked to grade the mayor during forums and were scrutinized for their level of support for him. Many candidates distanced themselves from the mayor, whose popularity had waned due to various factors, including issues with city audits and the removal of the Plaza obelisk, known as the Soldiers’ Monument.

Notably, the results revealed that the City Council would maintain its current political balance. While some candidates received support from Mayor Webber, others positioned themselves as critical of his administration, emphasizing the need for more accountability. Some vowed to provide oversight of the mayor’s administration if

Dems ‘bleeding support’ from Hispanics, may have huge impact on NM elections

From Joe Biden at the national level to U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez at the congressional level, far-left Democrats are losing Hispanic support, according to a new Axios report.

“It’s clear from consistent trends across multiple polls that Biden is bleeding support among Hispanic voters and Black voters — especially younger ones, and especially in swing states,” wrote the outlet. 

“What’s happening: Hispanic ranchers, Mexican American oil workers and non-college-educated Latino voters are shifting measurably from Democrats, with potentially devastating electoral repercussions, reports Axios’ Russell Contreras, who has studied the Latino vote back to JFK’s victory in 1960.”

The report adds, “Among Black voters, stress from inflation and interest rates — and especially the cost of cars and housing — is hurting Biden.”

This major shift in support by Hispanics away from Democrats poses a problem for far-leftists like Vasquez. The socialist congressman represents a district that is 60% Hispanic.

“Democrats have embraced an inflationary agenda and they continue to chase an extreme agenda at the expense of voters’ livelihoods. Extreme Democrats like Gabe Vasquez have every right to be very worried,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Delanie Bomar. 

Vasquez now faces former Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, a Republican, in 2024. She is polling ahead of the radical leftist, according to the most recent polling from the Democrat-dominated southern border district. 

In the November 7, 2023 local elections, it remains to be seen if Democrats will be able to hold key seats or if the momentum is swinging toward the Republicans’ favor as Hispanics shift away from the Democrat Party.

As border crisis rages, NM hits tragic metric in drug deaths due to fentanyl

A recently published report sheds light on a concerning trend of increasing death rates among people under 40 in the United States, with some of the highest numbers observed in parts of the Mountain West.

New Mexico, in particular, is facing an alarming situation, as it reported the highest death rate in the nation for this age group in 2022, with approximately 188 deaths per 100,000 individuals, according to data analyzed by the nonprofit news service Stateline, drawing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This growing crisis is not unique to New Mexico; other states grappling with significantly high death rates among those under 40 include West Virginia (170 per 100,000), Louisiana and Mississippi (164), and Alaska (163). Across the Mountain West, several states also recorded triple-digit death rates, such as Wyoming (120), Colorado (116), and Nevada (115), with somewhat lower figures in Idaho (92) and Utah (80).

Jonathan Gonzalez, Unsplash.

The primary cause of death in much of the Mountain West, as well as the nation as a whole, is accidental drug overdoses. However, Idaho and Utah stand out, where the leading cause of death among the under-40 population is suicide.

One significant contributor to the rising death toll among younger adults is the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Dahlia Heller, the vice president of drug use initiatives at Vital Strategies, a public health advocacy group, explains that fentanyl’s potency, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, has led to a surge in overdoses. Of particular concern is the fact that fentanyl is increasingly being mixed with other recreational drugs, putting users at risk of overdose, often without their knowledge.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on mental health, leading to increased drug use among people under 40. The combination of the mental health crisis and the availability of potent drugs like fentanyl has created a deadly cocktail, resulting in a concerning increase in deaths.

While New Mexico and the Mountain West are not alone in facing this crisis, addressing the issue will require a multifaceted approach that combines addiction treatment, mental health support, and efforts to reduce the availability of dangerous substances.

Additionally, the failures of some Democrat politicians to take effective action on border security have exacerbated the problem of illegal fentanyl seeping through the southern border with Mexico, further fueling the drug crisis in the region. Democrats have attacked conservative states like Texas, which are working to stop the flow of illegal immigration and fentanyl trafficking. Those fiercest on the attack include far-left New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and socialist Democrat U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, who represents New Mexico’s entire southern border with Mexico.

As communities grapple with the devastating consequences of this crisis, it becomes increasingly urgent for policymakers and public health organizations to find comprehensive solutions to combat the rising death toll among younger adults.

In abuse of power case, House panel probes Haaland-connected group

In a recent development, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have sent a letter to Julia Bernal, the Executive Director of the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA). This move is part of the committee’s ongoing oversight into the actions of Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a Democrat former New Mexico congresswoman. The committee is scrutinizing the potential misuse of her position and her impartiality while holding a cabinet official role.

The letter outlines concerns regarding the nature of the relationship between Secretary Haaland and the Pueblo Action Alliance, an organization actively involved in lobbying, political activities, and advocacy efforts on environmental and energy issues, particularly in the context of oil and gas production on federal lands. Given the Department of the Interior’s responsibility for managing oil and gas production on federal lands, the close association between Secretary Haaland and PAA is raising questions about her role as a cabinet official.

The members of the committee note that Secretary Haaland has reportedly held meetings with PAA leaders during her tenure as Secretary of the Interior, focusing on PAA’s opposition to oil and gas production on federal lands. Additionally, the Secretary has publicly displayed her association with PAA by adorning personal items with PAA insignia. This connection is not one-sided, as PAA frequently highlights its close relationship with Secretary Haaland.

The House Committee on Natural Resources is now keen to investigate the unique dynamics of this relationship, as it raises potential ethical and impartiality concerns.

Furthermore, the committee’s concerns extend to a review of PAA’s history, including its nonprofit status with the New Mexico Secretary of State. Despite PAA operating since at least 2018, it did not formally incorporate in New Mexico until October 15, 2021. More troubling is the fact that the State of New Mexico revoked PAA’s nonprofit status on March 17, 2022. This nonprofit status remained revoked until June 5, 2023. Despite this revocation, PAA continued to function and carry out programming in New Mexico and across the United States from March 2022 through June 2023.

The House Committee finds these developments troubling and is actively seeking to delve into the relationship between PAA and Secretary Haaland, the nature of PAA’s associations with international socialist organizations attempting to influence American policy, and the transparency surrounding PAA’s funding sources and compliance with U.S. nonprofit regulations.

The committee’s oversight requests to Secretary Haaland regarding this issue have been previously documented, and it remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed moving forward.

The relationship between a high-ranking government official and an advocacy organization is under scrutiny, with questions surrounding the potential impact on policy decisions and regulatory actions in the realm of environmental and energy issues. As the House Committee on Natural Resources continues to investigate, the outcome of this inquiry could have far-reaching implications for Secretary Haaland and her role within the Department of the Interior.

Read the full committee letter here. Read the committee’s oversight requests to Haaland on this issue here and here

Unconstitutional Gov. Lujan Grisham renews assault on Second Amendment

In a move that has again sparked a flame to the Constitution, Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has decided to renew executive orders declaring so-called “gun violence” a public health emergency, which restricted guns for New Mexicans. The extension, set to last until December 1, 2023, is being met with fury over its blatant unconstitutionality.

Governor Lujan Grisham again doubled down on the unconstitutional measure, saying, “This executive order sends a clear message that the safety and well-being of residents are our top priorities. We stand united in our resolve to combat gun violence and protect our communities.” However, it remains to be seen whether the renewal of this emergency declaration is effective at all.

The governor initially declared a state of public emergency on September 7, 2023, and her administration promptly launched initiatives to address the crisis. During a press conference to announce the measure, which banned gun possession for all residents in Albuquerque Bernalillo County, the governor claimed that “no right,” including her oath is absolute. 

Her unconstitutional action led state Reps. John Block (R-Alamogordo) and Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) to launch an impeachment process against Lujan Grisham, which requires large numbers of legislators to sign a certification form calling for an extraordinary impeachment session. So far, 33 legislators have signed the petition.

Patrick Allen, Lujan Grisham’s secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health, defended the renewal by emphasizing the gravity of “gun violence” as a public health concern.

The order also mandates that the New Mexico State Police will be hosting gun buyback events in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Española. These measures have proven ineffective in reducing crime. Those deciding to disarm themselves will receive Visa and/or American Express gift cards in exchange for their firearms.

Vasquez has tantrum over TX border barrier, demands Gov. Abbott tear it down

Far-left Democrat U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, a supporter of open borders and vehement critic of a border barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, is calling for the removal of the razor wire fence that the Texas National Guard has installed on the banks of the Rio Grande along the border with New Mexico. 

The fence is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from entering Texas, which has its own barriers protecting it from Mexico. The move is meant to stop criminal aliens from entering the U.S. illegally through Mexico and jumping into Texas illegally. In a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Vasquez criticized the construction of the fence and labeled it an “unconstitutional barrier” between the two states.

Vasquez argued that the fence violates the U.S. Constitution, specifically the right to travel within the United States, which the Fourteenth Amendment protects. He contended that this amendment allows American citizens to travel freely between states and that the fence restricts this freedom.

He criticized the lack of consultation with New Mexico officials and the International Boundary and Water Commission, which is responsible for applying boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico.

While the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is monitoring the situation and is prepared to take action if necessary, it noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has exclusive authority over immigration enforcement.

The Texas Military Department stated that the Texas National Guard has fortified the border between Texas and New Mexico with 18 miles of concertina wire to prevent migrants from entering New Mexico illegally. This move has sparked opposing views from New Mexico’s Democratic and Republican parties.

The New Mexico Democratic Party and the Texas Democratic Party Chair Jessica Velasquez called for the immediate removal of the razor wire fence, citing environmental damage, community division, and harm to vulnerable illegal aliens. 

In contrast, the New Mexico Republican Party Chairman and former Congressman Steve Pearce criticized Democrats for wanting to remove any barrier along the southern border, especially when threats like fentanyl, cartels, human traffickers, and individuals on terror watchlists cross the open border daily.

Vasquez and Abbott have divergent views on how to address immigration on the southern border, with Vasquez accusing Abbott of approaching the issue in a “very political way” and taking measures that harm the region’s unity.

Back in 2018, Vasquez described the border crisis as a “non-existent threat” and criticized then-President Donald Trump’s border security efforts as “ill-informed” and “in bad taste.”

In 2020, he went further, calling for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claiming that the agency had “no regard for humanity.” 

Throughout 2021, Vasquez repeatedly voiced his intention to dismantle Trump’s border wall, going so far as to state, “Tear what’s left of it down” and “Let’s tear it down.” 

He went on to label the border wall as the product of a “crooked, racist administration” and commended Joe Biden for halting its construction, characterizing it as a “racist, environmentally destructive, massive waste of money” and a “glorification of xenophobia.

After longest-serving state senator resigns, GOP rep. seeks to fill seat

House Minority Whip Greg Nibert, a Republican from Roswell, has expressed his intent to be considered for the vacant Senate seat in a southeast New Mexico district. In a press release, Nibert announced his plan to seek nomination from the county commissions in Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Lea, and Roosevelt to complete the unexpired term of former Sen. Stuart Ingle, who served nearly 40 years in the Legislature.

Nibert has been a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives since 2017, advocating for the oil and gas and agricultural industries, which are prominent in Senate District 27. He believes his experience in the Senate will provide a strong voice for the constituents in eastern New Mexico.

Notably, Larry Marker, a small oil producer and conservative activist, had already declared his candidacy in the Republican primary for Senate District 27. On Monday, Marker confirmed that he would also submit his name to the county commissions for consideration.

According to state law, candidates seeking the seat must present their names to all county commissions in the district, which will then vote to advance one nominee to the governor for selection.

In his announcement, Nibert disclosed that all his colleagues in the House who live in or near Senate District 27, including Representatives Andrea Reeb, Martin Zamora, and Larry Scott, have endorsed his bid for the Senate.

The revamped Senate District 27, following recent redistricting, now includes more of Chaves County, overlapping with Nibert’s current House District 59.

Nibert’s candidacy has been anticipated, as he had previously expressed interest in running for the Senate seat if Ingle decided not to seek reelection. Nibert is an attorney who has been with the oil and gas department of the Hinkle Shanor Law Firm in Roswell since 1983.

He has held various positions, including executive director of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce, member of the Roswell Independent School Board of Education, and chair of the Republican Party of Chaves County. In 2016, he was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives, representing District 59. He was elected House Minority Whip in January.

In recent years, Nibert has been vocal in his opposition to the emergency public health orders issued by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ingle’s resignation is part of a trend in southeast New Mexico, where longtime lawmakers have either resigned or chosen not to seek reelection, leading to shifts in representation in the region.

NM’s film tax credits scrutinized by powerful Democrat committee chair

State Sen. George Muñoz, a Democrat from Gallup and the chairman of the powerful Legislative Finance Committee has raised concerns about New Mexico’s film production incentive program. This initiative has been a subject of scrutiny as questions persist regarding its cost-effectiveness.

Sen. Muñoz has previously questioned the workings of the incentive program, as have other skeptics who wonder if the economic impact of New Mexico’s thriving film industry is truly as substantial as it seems.

In a letter to the New Mexico Film Office, Sen. Muñoz has requested a detailed report on how the film tax credit is calculated, eligibility requirements, and any updates or changes to the criteria. His concern primarily revolves around the unique structure of the program, where dividends are paid out after production companies submit receipts for their costs, unlike traditional tax credit initiatives.

Moreover, Sen. Muñoz has sought an opinion from Attorney General Raúl Torrez on whether the incentive program violates the state’s anti-donation clause, which prohibits government agencies from making donations to private enterprises. If the attorney general’s office determines a violation, it may necessitate a revision of the program.

The film incentive program has long been scrutinized, with a recent Legislative Finance Committee study revealing that it accounts for a significant portion of all state economic development incentives but provides less than 1% of the film industry’s share of private employment. The study questions the cost-effectiveness of the program, citing that it costs the state over $100 million in payouts in fiscal year 2023 but does not attract substantial private investments.

The film industry’s employment figures are also under scrutiny, with the program generating approximately 8,000 jobs per year at a cost of around $22,800 per job created, higher than other job-creation programs.

While New Mexico has become a popular destination for filmmakers due to the incentive program, which offers significant rebates on qualified expenses, the recent questions raised by Sen. Muñoz and the legislative committee study have rekindled doubts about the program’s economic payoff.

Despite these concerns, the program continues to enjoy political support, making it unlikely to change or disappear in the near future. It benefits from strong revenues generated by the oil and gas industry, which contribute to the state’s coffers. If these revenues were to decline significantly, lawmakers might reconsider the program’s incentives and evaluate their value to the state’s economy.

NM’s congressional reps. demand Israel ‘pause’ defending itself against Hamas

New Mexico’s fully Democrat U.S. House delegation demanded the nation of Israel, which has been ravaged for weeks by Hamas terrorists, “pause” their defensive moves against the unprovoked massacre by the terrorist organization.

Hamas, which rules the failed state of Gaza, is responsible for thousands of deaths in Israel, along with rape, torture, and kidnapping of innocents.

I call for a humanitarian pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas. A pause would allow desperately needed aid to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza, provide time to negotiate the release of hostages who Hamas kidnapped, and help civilians reach safety,” wrote Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez of the Third District.

She added, “As the U.S. supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’s terrorist attacks, Israel must protect against the innocent loss of life. Hamas and its allies must also stop their attacks on Israelis. Civilians should not pay the price for Hamas’s terror.”

Rep. Gabe Vasquez of the Second District chimed in, “Two wrongs don’t make a right. The U.S. must not be complicit in the deliberate death and harm to civilians in Gaza,” saying, “That’s why I’m calling on the Administration to work with Israel and its partner nations to pause this conflict and ensure that food, water, fuel and medicine are available to civilians in Gaza and that they are kept out of harm’s way, as we work to release the hostages taken by Hamas.”

“We need a humanitarian pause in Israel and Gaza. Every conflict has consequences for innocent lives caught in the crossfire, violence that shatters families and destroys the futures of the innocent. We must respect the rights of our allies and the innocent,” added Rep. Melanie Stansbury of the First District, sharing a lengthy statement, saying the pause is necessary to enshrine the “inherent dignity of Israeli and Palestinian lives.” 

Stansbury added, “Just as we support our allies in their inherent rights, we cannot turn a blind eye to extremism that undermines peace, security, and democracy, either through violence or through policy. I stand resolute in my support for a two state solution and for a lasting peace across the region.”

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined New Mexico’s U.S. House Democrats, writing in a statement, “I join my colleagues in Congress and the Biden Administration in calling for a humanitarian pause in conflict so that lifesaving aid can quickly reach civilians in Gaza. As a nation, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting the innocent and most vulnerable.”

Responses from New Mexicans cmae critical of the move that will no doubt benefit Hamas terrorists, with one person writing to Leger Fernandez, “No, sorry.  A bit late to think about food and water.  Hamas dug up water lines to create missiles.  Let me ask, was there a humanitarian pause during the Hamas attack?  No?  Then why should the attackers get a reprieve.”

A Democrat constituent of Vasquez wrote in response to his statement, “I strongly disagree with you regarding this. Fuel and other supplies that might be allowed into Gaza would [be] used by Hamas.”

To Sen. Heinrich’s post, a commenter wrote, “There was a humanitarian pause. Hamas crossed the border, killed and captured many. Now there’s a war. How wonderful for Hamas that they have supporters like you.” 

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