This legislative session is one like no other. The supposed public servants who were elected to “represent” us hide away from us and have erected a giant fence to keep the public out of the People’s House.
New Mexicans were told the Legislature would be “more accessible” to the public or that the process has been “opened” in a way “that has never happened before,” according to Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe).
But the opposite has happened. Before, when members of the public were allowed in the physical committee hearings, they actually could speak face-to-face with legislators and make their case.
Previously, there were long lines of people allowed to give testimony in front of the committee if they so chose. Elected leaders had to face their constituents face-to-face and explain to them exactly why they are voting for or against a specific bill.
Now, if one of these so-called “public servants” doesn’t like what you have to say or doesn’t want to hear the multitude of “virtual” attendees testify, they can just press the mute button on you and silence your voice—or cut off debate at “fifteen minutes for each side” while giving leftists more time to testify.
Yesterday, while I attempted to testify in the House Judiciary Committee, I was silenced for merely trying to testify against a duplicative bill, H.B. 156, that already is on the books barring law enforcers from sexual contact with a person in custody—consensual or not. This anti-police bill does nothing to change state law and is clearly just another jab at law enforcement officials.
But in a previous hearing, one of the bill’s “expert witnesses,” Alexandria Taylor, dubbed any law enforcer who opposes the useless bill as a “rapist.”
In the testimony I attempted to give to the committee, I did not mention Taylor by name, only saying, “this is nothing but a smear bill aiming to build public opinion against law enforcement by maligning them as ‘predators’ and ‘rapists’ These are some of the words proponents of this bill have used about law enforcers in prior hearings.”
However, the radical left chair of the committee, Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo), couldn’t stand anyone actually opposing this anti-police smear bill, and so she cut me off, claiming I was going after the bill sponsor’s “motives,” which is nothing of the sort. Then when I respectfully unmuted to finish my testimony, I was cut off again.
This same occurrence happened earlier in this committee when I testified against S.B. 10, a radical abortion up-to-birth and infanticide bill. At that time, I merely wondered why the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Linda Lopez, refused to debate her bill on the Senate floor. This benign comment also apparently triggered Chasey, and she clapped back at me in that committee.
In a condescending response to another New Mexican concerned with Chasey’s censorship, she wrote back, “I do not allow anyone to attack the motives of the sponsors of bills or members of the committee, just as I would not allow any members of the committee or of the public to attack another individual, regardless of that person’s position. You have been misinformed.” Her supposed rule has never before been instituted.
Some argue that the “virtual” legislature has made the process. But I argue that it has made it even more opaque. Frivolously cutting off members of the public was not possible before when the public had a chance to testify in-person. But now, with the click of a mouse, power-hungry chairmen and chairwomen can mute the public and shut them up if they disagree with their viewpoints. Speak the truth, no matter how respectful it is, at your own peril.
This legislative session has been a complete disgrace, with Democrats ramming through extreme bills no matter what the public thinks, the rules be damned. We must strive for open government and refuse to back down or let them silence our voices. This is the opposite of transparency. Freedom of speech is a critical tenet of our republic, and if we do not fight for it now, we will lose it forever.