Today we discuss the primary results and their implications for the 2023 legislative session. We also build on our May 26 post, “Gun Rampages Must be Stopped. Our Inaction Allows this to Continue,” to discuss what might be possible in NM. We close with a powerful video by Matthew McConaughey, the actor who was born in Uvalde and who went to Uvalde to meet with families, and then came to Washington to share what he heard and to lobby for meaningful gun violence prevention legislation.
First, a couple comments on other issues…
The Jan. 6 hearings televised live tonight at 6 pm. Before we get to the main themes for today, a reminder that tonight at 6pm on likely every channel but ESPN (and Fox News), the Jan. 6 committee will hold a publicly televised hearing sharing what they have learned during their investigation. It feels like we need to hear from them to better understand the perilous thread from which our meager vestige of democracy was dangling and continues to dangle. I’m not sure what we can do to strengthen that thread here in NM, but maybe we can understand the situation more clearly.
Hydrogen Hub efforts will persist at the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) hearing on June 15 at the retired Escalante coal plant in Prewitt. (Find the agenda at this link.) With half a day devoted to discussion of the potential for developing a hydrogen hub in Prewitt, the LFC has decided not to offer Zoom access or public comment. Indeed, they are not even planning to Webcast the meeting. While with a Webcast we would not be able to offer public comment, at least we would be able to review the misinformation used to justify hydrogen production. With Zoom, viewing the hearing and offering public comment would be possible from remote locations. So, as it stands, this “public” hearing is effectively a closed-door affair, unless the public wants to drive to Prewitt, NM,, to watch in silence, as you will not be allowed to speak.
As it stands, this hearing will include an hour of talk from a Tallgrass Energy exec. about plans for converting the retired coal-fired power plant into a “clean” hydrogen-fired power generating facility, and then the committee will be whisked away to tour the facility and be further “wowed” to the wonders of hydrogen, with nary a word suggesting that the entire process won’t work, a point raised repeatedly during hearings during the 2022 Legislative Session and a point made clearly in the research summary below, completed by Renewable Taos and Retake.
A coalition of energy advocates, of which Retake is a member, has been trying to find a way to offer input into this hearing process, but were told that even if people showed up at the hearing in Prewitt they would not be allowed to offer public comment or ask questions. So, unless the LFC relents to public pressure, the best we can do is submit the research summary below and another being produced by the Coalition and hope that it is distributed and reviewed by committee members.
The LFC has had months to plan for this hearing; it is clearly a topic of very high interest, with considerable skepticism as to the feasibility of hydrogen production for economic, technical, and environmental reasons. The topic deserves a robust, open discussion, not what amounts to a closed door conversation open only to hydrogen proponents.
Who is behind this well-financed propaganda machine? The Hydrogen Council, a group established by British Petroleum, Shell, and other oil and gas majors was organized specifically to promote hydrogen because it cleverly masquerades as a climate solution while prolonging the market for their dirty fossil-fuel products.
Please use contact info at the end of this post to let the LFC know that you want this hearing carried by Zoom with robust public comment allowed, not limited to a handful of 30-60 second snippets.
This is 2022 and Zoom technology is extremely low tech, is used in all manners of communication, and so failure to Zoom this hearing is not a resource issue, it is a prioritization issue. If the LFC can’t figure out Zoom technology, how are they capable of assessing the risks/benefits of hydrogen?
Please share this post with your legislators — no doubt, hydrogen hub legislation will return in 2023, and in the meantime, legislative support is being cultivated behind closed doors.
Elections Matter: Our Table Is Set for Roundhouse 2023!
The results are in and the progressive Dems we endorsed who were facing conservative, corporate-funded, PAC-backed candidates didn’t just win, they won by huge margins. With our allies, we protected every Democratic House Rep. except for Roger Montoya, so we will retain a progressive majority in the Democratic Caucus. And, unless something bizarre transpires, Patty Lundstrom will not become Speaker of the House. What’s more, in the election of Raúl Torrez as AG, we will have put an end to the shameless pay-to-play system that has governed the AG’s office for many years. Well over 5,500 New Mexicans reviewed our endorsements, so those endorsements mattered. Many of you made calls, canvassed, and contributed, so your actions mattered. And now, we begin the long march to the 2023 legislative session with more clarity about who will be voting on bills we support or oppose.
Momentum Builds for Gun Violence Prevention Legislation… sort of
Sadly, that momentum comes mostly from Democrats, as Republicans continue to protest that responsible gun owners should not be punished for the deeds of others. This argument misses the point entirely, but is an easy off-hand response to reporters. The response is off base because none of the legislation being developed would in any way punish responsible gun owners.
If we are lucky, we might see legislation that raises the age when an assault weapon can be purchased from 18 to 21, and legislation that might expand background checks. Neither policy would in any way punish responsible gun owners. Even with national polls showing strong and growing support for meaningful legislation, my gut tells me momentum in Congress will stall, leaving it to states to take action.
The GOP seems hellbent on responding with legislation that would make schools “safer,” likely by funding armed police and equipping schools with sophisticated metal detection equipment and other security. While this might reduce the number of mass shootings at a school, it will do nothing for those murdered in countless other venues.
The list below is excerpted from a NY Times Morning post. It lists all the mass shootings that have occurred thus far this year in the U.S. The most obvious detail revealed by this list is that gun violence is NOT just a school safety issue, it is a national safety issue — of the 17 mass shootings listed below, the only school shooting was at Uvalde. Murderous shootings occurred in homes, churches, bars, birthday parties, doctor’s offices, parking lots, and on the streets. Arming schools would in no way prevent the kind of wanton violence described below.
Jan. 19, Baltimore: A man who worked for a gun violence reduction program was killed in East Baltimore, along with two others. A fourth person was injured.
Jan. 23, Milwaukee: Five men and a woman were found shot to death at a Park West neighborhood home. The police believe the attack targeted specific people.
Jan. 23, Inglewood, Calif.: The same day, a shooting at a birthday party killed four people, including two sisters, and wounded a fifth. The shooting was gang-related, the mayor said.
Feb. 5, Corsicana and Frost, Texas: A 41-year-old man murdered his mother, his stepfather, his sons, and the son of his ex-girlfriend in an overnight shooting. The man later fatally shot himself.
Feb. 28, Sacramento: A man shot dead his three daughters and their chaperone at a church during a court-approved visit. The children’s mother had a restraining order against the shooter, who killed himself.
March 12, Baltimore: A shooting in Northwest Baltimore killed three men in a car and wounded a fourth.
March 19, Fayetteville, N.C.: A Saturday night shootout in a hotel parking lot killed three people and wounded another three. The shooting may have been linked to a fight between motorcycle gangs.
March 19, Norfolk, Va.: Hours later, an argument outside a bar escalated into a shooting that killed three young bystanders. One of the victims was a 25-year-old newspaper reporter whose editor called her to cover the shooting, not realizing she had been killed.
April 3, Sacramento: At least five shooters fired more than 100 rounds a block from the State Capitol, killing six people — three men and three women — and wounding 12. The police described the shooting as gang-related.
April 21, Mountain View, Ark.: A man killed his parents, another woman and her son at two homes half a mile apart in a rural community, the police say
April 27, Biloxi, Miss.: A 32-year-old man killed the owner of the Broadway Inn Express motel and two employees in an argument over money. He fled to a neighboring town and fatally shot a fourth person. Police later found the gunman dead, barricaded inside a convenience store.
May 14, Buffalo: An 18-year-old avowed white supremacist killed 10 people and wounded three more with an assault-style weapon in a live-streamed attack at a supermarket.
May 24, Uvalde, Texas: An 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
May 27, Stanwood, Mich.: A 51-year-old man allegedly killed his wife and her three young children at a home in Mecosta County before shooting himself, police said. The man remains in critical condition.
June 1, Tulsa, Okla.: A gunman killed his back surgeon, another doctor, a receptionist and a visitor at a medical building. He then killed himself.
As long as this list is, it’s also a very incomplete accounting of American gun violence. It doesn’t include the at least 60 shootings that left three people dead but don’t technically count as mass shootings (because fewer than four people were shot). It doesn’t count shootings that wounded people without killing anybody, like one in Milwaukee that injured 17 people. And it leaves out the individual gun homicides and suicides that make up a majority of the gun violence that kills more than 100 Americans on an average day.
A Marist Poll conducted a week after Uvalde found strong support for a range of gun violence prevention legislation. Majorities of voters said they would definitely vote for candidates who want to increase mental health funding (86%), require stricter background checks (82%), support red flag laws (74%), want stricter gun laws generally (60%), and ban assault-style weapons like AK-47s and AR-15s (56%). The chart below shows the shift in voter position on gun violence vs. protecting gun rights.
Clearly there is a shift in public opinion that suggests meaningful legislation is popular and possible, and, so while school safety and increased funds for mental health and school security might well pass, the vast majority of those killed in the mass shootings above would not have been prevented by those plans. A ban on sale of assault weapons would certainly reduce the scope and scale of mass shootings, but it appears that Congress hasn’t the will to do that, despite a majority of voters favoring such a ban.
Perhaps one of you can help me with this. While I totally support expanded funding for mental health services, how exactly would this curb mass shootings? While reflecting on the brief summary of mass shootings described above, consider how many of those killers would have gone to a mental health clinic seeking help to address their violent thoughts. Even with background checks, if asked why you need an AR15, do you really think anyone would answer “shoot up a school” or “kill my wife and kids?” So, while funding for mental health and background checks are positive steps, the real problem is easy access to weapons of war that have no place in our communities. Raising the age to 21 when you can legally purchase an AR-15 is a baby step, I’d prefer raising the age to 150. NO ONE NEEDS AN AR-15. HARD STOP.
Retake is working with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence (NMPGV) and others to develop and pass meaningful gun violence prevention in NM. If you want to be part of the discussion of options and plans, please join our Zoom Huddle with Miranda Viscoli, co-founder of NMPGV, and others, where we will begin planning for the 2023 legislative session. The Huddle is July 13 from 6-7:30pm. Please tell friends. We need a huge wave to get this done. Click here to register.
Please join us. There are lives to save.
Leave it to a gun-owning actor from Uvalde to make clear how gun violence impacts families and communities. His plea for action is embedded in the personal stories of the children and families destroyed at Uvalde, but his comments could have applied to most of the incidents above where families and communities were destroyed by gun violence.
In a highly personal appeal, Matthew McConaughey describes the urgent need for gun violence legislation
It will be very interesting to see just what Congress gets done. But my guess is that whatever they do will leave much more to be done and maybe, just maybe, our NM state legislature will find the will to lead the way.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
P.S. Please use the contact info below to let the LFC know that the hydrogen issue is of such great public interest, the meeting deserves to be on Zoom and should allow public comment. Be sure to write to the chair and the secretary, as well as to several of the members, especially if you know them or you are a constituent.
LFC Contact Info
Committee Chair Rep. Patricia Lundstrom – firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary David Abbey – email@example.com
Other members of the committee:
- Pete Campos: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- Roberto “Bobby” J. Gonzales: email@example.com,
- Siah Correa Hemphill: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- George K. Munoz:email@example.com>,
- Nancy Rodriguez: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- Pat Woods:email@example.com,
- Gail Armstrong: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- Jack Chatfield: email@example.com
- Harry Garcia: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- Dayan Hochman-Vigil: email@example.com
- Nathan P. Small: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Candie G. Sweetser: email@example.com
- Brian G. Baca: firstname.lastname@example.org “
- Gay G. Kernan: email@example.com,
- Steven P. Neville: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Christine Chandler: email@example.com