The recent revelations about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault nationwide have not gone unnoticed here in New Mexico. We’re not immune from the kinds of predatory behavior that have been the undoing of so many men around the nation already.
Governor Martinez’s Republican spin machine never stops nowadays and we’ve seen the worst kind of it coming from her and House Republicans in the aftermath of the 2015 legislative session. How the governor and her allies in the now-Republican controlled House are trying to re-direct blame around the failure of the capital outlay spending package is a particularly egregious example. They’re simply lying to the public. If you haven’t heard, the $213 million public works (or “capital outlay”) package failed to pass both the House and Senate before the legislative session ended. The package – which had been vetted through the interim committee process and was passed out of the Senate on a bi-partisan 40-1 vote – would have funded maintenance and improvements to public facilities throughout the state.
With a pro-gun Governor on the Fourth Floor and a Republican majority in the House beholden to the NRA, there hasn’t been much movement on any legislation this session aimed at gun violence prevention. But that’s not stopping Rep. Stephanie Maez from bringing what’s know as a Child Access Prevention (CAP) law to the New Mexico House in an attempt to protect children from the negligent storage of firearms. Twenty-seven states along with Washington D.C. have CAP laws on the books. With state-based statistics like these, it’s hard to imagine why opposition to CAP laws even exists:
2013 data from the New Mexico Department of Health’s Vital Records Department reveals that the second leading cause of death for children and teens age 1-18 in New Mexico is suicide – with 34% of those suicides by firearm. The third leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-18 is homicide with 74% of those deaths being caused by a firearm. Here’s a rundown of Rep. Maez’s bill, HB 544, from the House Democrats’ press office (emphasis mine):
Representative Stephanie Maez brings bill addressing negligent storage of firearms
SANTA FE, NM –Representative Stephanie Maez (D-Albuquerque) has introduced a bill addressing the negligent storage of firearms. House Bill 544 defines negligent storage of a firearm as storing or leaving a firearm, loaded or unloaded, in a location where the owner knows or reasonable should have known a minor is likely to gain access to it.
How about these freshman in our state House of Representatives? Rep. Javier Martinez has emerged as a powerful voice for economic opportunity and election modernization; Rep. Debbie Armstrong has been a leader on health and reproductive rights issues; Rep. Wonda Johnson has stood up for Tribal infrastructure funds; Rep. Andres Romero is a graduate student and a new father but still has time to make educational issues a main priority; and Rep. Patricio Ruiloba has a laser focus on fixing problems within our Children, Youth, and Families Department. Rep. Stephanie Maez is another member of this freshman class of progressives in the NM House. She has a innovative idea to improve conditions for Bernalillo County’s homeless (that could be expanded to many other counties throughout the state). From KRQE:
There is a new proposal to keep the homeless in New Mexico from using the streets as a restroom. It is an idea that is already working in other big cities. A state lawmaker wants to put a mobile shower and bathroom on the streets of New Mexico. Specifically, she says, she had Bernalillo County in mind when she brought it up at the Roundhouse.
Last night, something amazing happened. After weeks of the newly emboldened House Republicans arbitrarily changing rules and flaunting established parliamentary procedure, House Democrats said “enough.”
During last night’s debate about a bill regarding the way teachers advance through the licensure system, this happened:
Hours of debate over an education bill turned into a partisan battle on the House floor tonight, as Democrats walked out of the chamber to protest what they said was unfair treatment by majority Republicans. The legislation at the core of the dispute, streamlining the way teachers advance through their licensure system, passed 37-0, with only Republicans voting. Democratic leader Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, called it a “naked power grab” by Republicans, in an interview after the floor session. Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, accused the Democrats of hypocrisy, saying they had used the House rules the same way when they were in charge.
Do you know what the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is? It’s likely you don’t, but you definitely should. The WFTC is basically the state-level equivalent of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an extremely effective policy known for lifting low-income families out of poverty. Created in 1975 under President Ford, the EITC “will lower the amount of tax owed to the federal government for the prior year or it will result in receiving a check (‘refund”) from the government. If you qualify, you will either owe less in taxes or you may get cash back from the government.”