Did New Mexico women just shatter a glass ceiling in the legislature?

Wait, did New Mexico Democrats just shatter a glass ceiling by electing an all-women leadership? New Mexico Democrats might have just set an amazing precedent and shattered an insanely huge glass ceiling for women in leadership roles around the country. Three top positions within the Democrat’s new majority leadership are being occupied by women. Not only that but Sheryl Williams Stapleton, an African American, Doreen Gallegos, a Latina, and Doreen Wonda Johnson, a member of the Navajo Nation, are all women of color from very different parts of New Mexico — potentially creating THE most diverse caucus leadership team in American history. Nationwide women only make up 24.2% of state legislators despite representing nearly 51% of the overall population.

[LEAKED DOCS] Even Republican business leaders favor minimum wage increases

Conservative-minded groups like chambers of commerce or the Republican Party love trotting out their “the-sky-is-falling!” rhetoric whenever minimum wage increases are proposed. The tired refrain is that businesses don’t want these increases and implementing them will kill jobs. Now, leaked documents from the nation’s leading Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, have turned those clichés upside down. A huge majority of businesses executives actually support minimum wage increases and other pro-worker policies like paid family leave. The Washington Post has a story today about a leaked survey of 1,000 business executives, conducted by Luntz, showing 80% for minimum wage increases with only 8% in opposition.

Water and public safety projects get the axe as Gov.’s vetoes continue to sting

Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez nixed over $8 million in capital outlay spending, meaning there’s now $8 million less being pumped into New Mexico’s economy than there otherwise could be. And some counties will feel the pain harder than others. Most of the projects vetoed by Martinez were projects sponsored by Democrats or co-sponsored by high profile Democrats. Only 9%, or 14 projects total, that went under the knife were sponsored by Republican lawmakers. New Mexico is a large state geographically (5th largest in the U.S.) and although high density populations are centered in some cities, outlying communities near cities were seriously undercut by the governor’s vetoes this year.

Gov. OK’s $1 million in new gun ranges, axes detox/homeless shelter

Governor Martinez used her veto pen today to kill more than 150 already paid-for public projects across the state.  That’s a big headline on it’s own; but it’s even more relevant when we compare a few of the things she did, and didn’t, veto from the state budget. For the third time in four years, Governor Martinez vetoed critical state funding for the only detox and homeless shelter in the Gallup region. 25 people have died from alcohol-related exposure deaths there over the past two winters, KOB TV recently reported. Senators Udall and Heinrich stepped up to help find federal funding to fill the gap left by the governor’s veto last year. This year’s funding would have provided shelter and detox services into next winter, but this veto leaves funding uncertain for the many alcohol-dependent and homeless New Mexicans in the area where alcoholism and homelessness exceed the state and national average by several times.  A Democratic state legislator has inserted the appropriation, in different forms, for the past four years.

What you need to know now that REAL ID is for real

HB99 was passed through the legislature this year and is a big win for New Mexicans. Now, it’s officially become law. Despite five years of extreme rhetoric from Governor Martinez and Republicans in the Roundhouse, the compromise bill HB99 passed the House and Senate during this year’s 30-day session. Today, Gov. Martinez signed it into law. Groups like Somos un Pueblo Unido continued to keep pressure on lawmakers over the years by pointing out the unsafe and discriminatory nature of limiting everyone to REAL ID standard licenses.

Top 5 BEST things from #NMLEG 2016

Yesterday we ran through our “Top 5 WORST things from #NMLEG 2016.”

Though bad bills and bad actors were plentiful this year, there were also a lot of great things to look back on from the progressive point-of-view. Today we’re taking a look at the top 5 best things to happen in #NMLEG 2016. #5
Progressive champions in the House
Despite being in the minority, progressives in the House put forth a valiant effort this year to advance some key policies to help our kids, our economy, our education system, our voting systems, and much more. Here’s just a small sampling of these champions:

Rep. Bill McCamley had a bill to equalize the tax code in the state so that people earning most of their income from capital gains would pay the same rate as those who work hourly. “The bill would have increased the state’s Working Families Tax Credit from 10 percent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent.”

Rep. Jeff Steinborn got his bill to the governor’s desk – which he’s sponsored for years now – to allow some 17 year olds to participate in primary elections.

The top 5 WORST things from #NMLEG 2016

It’s almost here; the final day of the 2016 legislature. As always, the battles inside the Roundhouse this year were hard fought. Sadly, though, the trend of New Mexico Republicans being completely and laughably out-of-touch with the needs of ordinary New Mexicans continued unabated this year. From new Secretary of State candidate Rep. Nora Espinoza trying to legalize discrimination and gut wages for construction workers, to male Republican lawmakers trying to insert the government into private decisions about women’s reproductive health, to a House committee chairman claiming that people in New Mexico don’t understand real poverty (!), Republican legislators proved again this year that they’re living in a different universe. But guess what?

These leaders are fighting for NM’s working families. Thank them!

As more and more stories come out about how New Mexico’s conservative “small-government” government officials are overseeing an economy where businesses are closing, unemployment is the nation’s highest, poverty is rising, and child well-being indicators are in the dirt, it’s important to know who is pushing back and standing up for New Mexico’s working families. “UTC Aerospace to close in ABQ; 150 to lose jobs” [Read]
“Major call center in Rio Rancho to close, costing 400 jobs” [Read]
“Caterpillar to close Santa Fe plant, lay off 50 workers by year’s end” [Read]
“New Mexico had highest Nov. unemployment rate in the nation” [Read]
“NM 49th in child well-being again: What will it take to make change?” [Read]
The differences between conservative and progressive priorities have been starkly contrasted over the past few days. Last weekend every House Republican voted against freezing the 2013 corporate income tax cuts that are phasing in year-to-year and costing state coffers millions in potential dollars — dollars we desperately need to fund Medicaid, public schools, public safety, and infrastructure. Tuesday night House Republicans voted for a bill (HB 200) to slash wages 30% for construction workers.

Bought & Sold: With $160,000 from corporations, is Nate Gentry NM’s most corporate legislator ever?

Meet New Mexico’s most corporate legislator: Rep. Nate Gentry. 
Republican House Majority Leader Gentry is the architect for most of the failed ideas coming out of the House on crime, education, the economy, and jobs this session. Now, new research from ProgressNow NM shows that Gentry might just be New Mexico’s most corporate legislator: since the 2014 elections that put Republicans in charge of the House, Gentry took over $160,000 from corporations and wealthy special interests. ProgressNow NM’s new analysis of campaign finance reports looked at over 12,000 individual contributions and segmented out the 2,304 corporate contributions reported by candidates and elected officials between the November 2014 election and the last reporting period in October 2015 (the most recent data available). While Gentry raked in $160,000, the median amount of corporate donations – the point at which half of legislators received more and half earned less – to all other individual legislators during that same period is $4,650. When looking at the averages, Gentry accumulated 20 times more corporate donations than the average of all other legislators.

NM posts record prison profits ahead of new GOP push for more incarceration

If Republicans in the State House get their way, New Mexico’s prisons are about to get a lot more crowded – and profitable. 6,849 New Mexicans are incarcerated in the state’s prison on any one day, according to the state’s Corrections Department.  In it’s mission to reform inmates, some inmates participate in Corrections Industries jobs building furniture, making uniforms and providing low-wage labor for projects around the state. Since Governor Martinez took office the state went from providing those job skills cheaply to turning a profit on prison labor. Here’s the data from the Corrections Department’s 2013 annual report:

And since 2013, the industries are still posting a profit – more than $109,000 in FY14.