Session midpoint arrives, no real relief for New Mexicans

Santa Fe, NM- The New Mexico Legislature has reached its midpoint. Despite the claimed ease of virtual lawmaking, and Democrats touting “record levels” of public participation, the House Chamber did not pass its first bill until just last week. Of the bills that have been approved by the progressive-led chamber, 92% have been Democrat-sponsored legislation and 8% have been Republican measures. While there have been some glimpses of bipartisan cooperation, the overwhelming number of bills passed have been hyper-partisan which is a detriment to hard-working New Mexico families and business owners. Instead, the bills passed by the Democrat majority this session have fallen short of addressing the education and economic crises facing the state, leaving hard-working families and business owners looking for answers. Rather than addressing the pressing concerns New Mexico’s parents, students, and business owners are struggling with, the majority has focused on passing legislation for special interest groups, primarily trial lawyers.

“We have seen several opportunities to work together on a bipartisan basis to advance important bills- an independent redistricting commission, value-added agriculture, and fixing systemic CYFD programmatic issues- however, these bipartisan bills are stuck in our virtual committees,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Rebecca Dow (TorC). “We cannot ignore serious issues simply because Democrats do not want to give Republicans any political credit for helping to address the problems that New Mexicans care about.”

From the onset of the Lujan Grisham economic shutdown, House Republicans have made it clear their priorities are getting children back to in-person learning and passing legislation that positively impacts New Mexicans who have been adversely affected by business closures and high unemployment. Republican lawmakers have been especially concerned about frontline workers in the medical field, restaurants, and other hospitality-related businesses.

Further, House Republicans have voiced strong support for changing the state’s public health emergency laws to require legislative involvement in managing such emergencies. Currently, the Governor has sole authority to dictate the state’s response to the pandemic and there is no legislative or public oversight of her decisions, although these decisions directly affect every New Mexican. Reforming these public health emergency laws to provide needed oversight has considerable bipartisan support, yet such legislation has still not made it to the full body for consideration.

“New Mexicans have no representation or recourse due to the sole decision making power of the Governor, and the Democrat leadership would prefer to keep dancing around the problem and pass one bad bill after another, rather than address our state’s education, unemployment, and business closure problems,” said House Republican Whip Rod Montoya (Farmington). “It is almost as if the Democrats see re-establishing legislative oversight as a rebuke of the Lujan Grisham administration. I was elected to do what is right for our state and my district, not sidestep the fundamental issues that progressives see as posing political fallout for the Governor.”

Although the Legislature’s Democrat leadership proclaims the session’s top priority is to assist our state’s economic recovery, the reality is the House and Senate has spent considerable time supporting legislation that is a direct assault on small businesses, New Mexico’s local governments, law enforcement officers, and the oil and gas industry.

“The flurry of legislative activity that has occurred during the first 30 days of the session has revealed that dark-money and special interest groups reign supreme in the Roundhouse,” said House Republican Leader Jim Townsend (Artesia.)  “On the other hand, those citizens who continue to struggle and suffer due to the Governor’s economic shutdown policies must wait for needed relief.”

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FGGAM received this new release late yesterday afternoon from the GOP House. WOW! As this news release states this could really transform New Mexico’s rural economy! I pray that both bills pass! We have lived here since 1995 and I stressed from the beginning that New Mexico needed to diversify its economy and not rely on gas and oil so very much. Back in 1995 New Mexico started opening up Casinos when we arrived here, that was the states plan to diversify the economy at that time! UGH! UGH! UGH! Gambling leads to bankruptcy and all sorts of evil’s. Looking in all the wrong places for money!

Farm-to-table options for NM 

Santa Fe, NM- Amongst the political angling and posturing during the 2021 Legislative Session, two agriculture bills are awaiting action that could take farm-to-table operations in NM off the chopping block and transform the state’s rural economy. Representative Rebecca Dow (R-TorC) is leading a bipartisan effort, HB 33, that would allow New Mexico to provide in-state meat inspections, and Representative Jack Chatfield (R-Mosquero) is working a concurrent angle, HB 121, a bill that would expand meat processing and packaging in New Mexico.

New Mexico farms and ranches are currently forced to send their meat products out of state to national inspectors and processing facilities, in a system that prevents New Mexico meats from making their way locally from farm to New Mexico tables.

“I have spent my life dedicated to New Mexico agriculture and I know that if we can get meat inspections and processing operations in New Mexico, this would transform our rural economies,” said Rep. Jack Chatfield (Mosquero). “My bill, HB 121, will establish meat processing facilities in New Mexico and promote growing our agricultural economy. These efforts, along with Rep. Dow’s HB 33 will grow and sustain our agricultural communities.”

COVID-19 has put tremendous strain on the entire New Mexico economy, and farmers and ranchers were not shielded from the economic impact of the shutdowns. At a critical moment during the pandemic, many New Mexicans became aware of the logistical issues surrounding buying local meats. With no local meat inspector or local processing operation, many New Mexicans had to maneuver their way through a complicated process to buy New Mexico homegrown meat products directly from agriculture producers, utilizing out-of-state inspectors and processing facilities.

“The meat inspection bill, HB 33, passed the Agriculture Committee and is waiting to receive funding in Appropriations, I am hopeful that this bill is funded because it will allow New Mexicans to purchase meats from truly local sources,” said Rep. Rebecca Dow (TorC). “Our agriculture community sends New Mexico raised meats out of state for processing, and this is just one example of how our communities lose out on value-added agriculture. We often hear a lot about farm-to-table, and this effort along with Rep. Chatfield’s HB 121 will make sure that New Mexico meats are sourced, inspected and processed in-state rather than by out of state national companies.”

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