Speaker Martinez Ousts Lundstrom. Guv Calls for Assault Weapon Ban! Let the Games Begin!

In one stunning move, Speaker Martinez changed everything. Going bold is no longer off the table. To be sure, a very bitter Patty Lundstrom will find ways to inject her fiscally conservative perspective, but her virtual veto power is gone. The session begins with stunning possibilities. Much more to report on abortion & the AG, gun violence prevention and more. Read on!

Legislative Life Just Got Much Easier for Progressives. Let the “Regime” Begin

In Patty Lundstrom’s bitter comments about Javier Martinez removing her from her House Appropriations and Finance Committee, she complained ““As a minority woman and rural New New Mexico Democrat, I am saddened and concerned that the new progressive regime has inappropriately replaced my steadfast and prudent leadership of the HAFC and LFC in a pathetic attempt at political retaliation.”

Retaliation? More like self-preservation with a dose of karma.. Lundstrom questions Martinez for removing a woman,minority rural Democrat, clearly overlooking her personally contributing to and endorsing primary challengers of two women, rural, Dems, Rep. Ortiz and Herrera. She calls her demotion “retaliation,” but it feels more like karma. Beyond her imprudent support for conservative Dem challengers of two rock solid Dems., she has voted against protecting a woman’s right to reproductive rights five times, has undermined efforts to create a public bank and Health Security and impeded efforts to reduce small loan rates in NM. As HAFC chair, she could orchestrate the tabling of a dozen good bills in 10 minutes, without discussion. So, while Lundstrom will descry her removal and try to make her the victim, she needs to look in the mirror when she is seeking to understand who is to blame for her loss of the HAFC chair position.

There are advocates and leaders of justice-seeking organizations dancing in the streets, snow or no. But lest the celebration begin prematurely, the HAFC remains a most conservative committee, but at least it will not be governed by the iron fist of Patricia Lundstrom.

I have calls out to leaders from Health Security and Public Bank to explore how this changes legislative strategy for 2023, so stay tuned. But, no doubt lots of things just got much easier. Case in point, the Patty-less HAFC, just passed HB-1, the Feed Bill without amendment or any Dem opposition. Normally, this would not be headline news as the Feed Bill is not usually controversial, but this year, the bill included funding for legislative staff and to establish district offices for legislators, which may not have survived with Lundstrom as chair.

Gun Violence Prevention Takes Center Stage

The Governor took dead aim at Guns’ Right’s advocates, asking the legislature to ban the sale and possession of all assault weapons. Of course, our knee jerk response to this was “hell yes.” Upon more reflection it remains “hell yes,” for three reasons:

  • While NM has thankfully been spared an epidemic of assault weapon-fueled mass shootings like that experienced throughout much of the U.S., the same could have been said about firestorms… until Hermit’s Peak. It is only a matter of time before we are subject to one of those mass shootings, so best to do all we can to prevent easy access to these weapons of war;
  • The ban sends a strong, clear message to the industry and the nation: ” NM is done being held hostage by the NRA’s fear-based, profit-incented, misinformation campaigns. What state is next?”
  • Third, assault weapons are the weapon of choice of the Mexican drug cartels, who come to NM to purchase these weapons of war and then terrorize Mexican communities.

It also occurred to us that another impactful gun violence prevention bill worthy of our support would be the one sponsored by Dem. Whip, Rep. Reena Szczepanski. Her, as yet unfiled, bill would ban the sale of automatic pistols and automatic rifles to individuals 18-21. First this would not be as likely to draw out hundreds of gun rights activists (and the crazies). But more importantly, without going into the weeds and citing data, it seems to us that the nightly news is littered with reports of gun violence committed by frustrated, angry young men, all too often under 21 and , often involving gangs or drug sales but all too often with women victims of domestic abuse as their targets. Perhaps the Governor’s strategy is to distract the 2nd Amendment advocates with the assault weapon ban and slip through a bill advancing the age one can get an automatic pistol or rifle until 21. But perhaps our Dems are seizing the moment and showing the leadership we’ve been thirsting for. Two Thumbs up on this!

Abortion Rights Under Attack in Eastern NM

Eastern New Mexico, the latest battleground in New Mexico’s fight over abortion, drew 100 people from across the state on Tuesday as Roosevelt County Commissioners overwhelmingly passed an ordinance to severely limit access to reproductive rights. This is a big deal, as people travelling from Texas to seek an abortion or women living in eastern NM, would have to travel 200 miles one way to secure an abortion in ABQ, if clinics in Roosevelt County were unable to offer abortion there.

Roosevelt county is one of several communities on the Texas border now seeking to prohibit abortion access, but its ordinance uses a different tactic to enforce it. It prohibits the operation of abortion clinics, restricts mail carriers from delivering abortion-related supplies and medicines, and gives private citizens the power to sue anyone they suspect of violating the ordinance.

By comparison, the city of Hobbs, the town of Clovis and Lea County have all passed similar ordinances that call for enforcement by government prosecutors.

“It’s very daunting, it’s absolutely purposeful, and it’s very targeted,” said Krista Pietsch, a Portales resident and member of Eastern New Mexico Rising. “Anyone coming from Texas would have to go to Albuquerque. For any of us who live in Eastern New Mexico, it’s a 200-plus one-way [drive].”

Legal experts say these ordinances present a violation of civil rights and will not survive court  challenges.  Ellie Rushworth, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico, denounced them for “[causing] confusion and fear in our communities, all while potentially exposing communities to significant legal liability.”

New Mexico’s Attorney General is prepared to counsel county and local governments on their legal limitations, according to Lauren Rodriguez, the office’s press secretary.

“If those entities persist, Attorney General [Raúl] Torrez will take formal, legal action to stop any unconstitutional restrictions on anyone attempting to access reproductive healthcare in New Mexico,” Rodriguez said in an email.

What’s more MLG has made one of her top priorities to pass legislation that will codify, a women’s right to reproductive health, effectively and unequivocally outlawing these conservative efforts to keep women subject to male rules.

So we have the, state AG, and our Governor all rowing in the same direction… I guess elections matter. A Gov. Ronchetti would be touring rural NM, offering support to these cruel and misguided efforts.

Huddle up TONIGHT at 6!
Time to Figure This Out!

It is dizzzying how quickly the NM political winds are shifting on the first full day of the 2023 legislative session. Join us to help sort out our plans as we navigate our way into the session. Tonight’s Huddle will include less talk from Roxanne and I and more input, questions and discussion from you, along with reports from Health Security leader, Mary Feldblum and Gun Violence Prevention for New Mexico, leader Miranda Viscoli. So this huddle should be informative, upbeat and joyous. You must register to participate. Click here to register.

In solidarity & hope,

Paul & Roxanne

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