By: NM House Republican Leader Rod Montoya, pictured above.

On June 10, House Republican leaders sent a letter to Governor Lujan Grisham explaining why her desire to rewrite highly complex behavioral health laws during the upcoming July 18 special session was not possible due to numerous unanswered questions.  Instead, Republican leaders called on the governor to set a special session agenda that focuses on fixing our state’s violent crime problem, reducing the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across our southern border, and reforming the problem-plagued, Children Youth and Families Department.

These unanswered questions, which have been raised by both Republican and Democrat legislators, include, how much will the governor’s proposals cost, how will these proposals make New Mexicans safer, and how will all these newly required behavioral health services be provided when the state is already facing a critical shortage of mental health professionals?  Spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to bring legislators back to Santa Fe to pass legislation that is not fully vetted and will have no immediate impact on the state’s violent crime and drug trafficking problems is not what special sessions are for.

Not surprisingly, the governor’s reaction to being told her so-called “public safety” agenda was not ready for a special session was to make false accusations that Republicans do not care about public safety.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The governor’s partisan response ignored the fact House Republicans have proposed dozens of bills during her tenure to hold criminals accountable for their actions, secure the border, and protect our state’s most vulnerable population.   Unfortunately, these Republican ideas have never been given fair consideration in the Legislature because progressive Democrats, like the governor, have been opposed to commonsense solutions.

Although the governor’s lack of leadership is inexcusable, the Legislature is complicit in the failure to protect the public.  For years the progressive majority has not only failed to pass laws to stop our revolving door justice system, but they also have advanced bills that make it harder to retain law enforcement personnel, and have focused on restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

It is obvious why the Governor is focusing her “public safety” special session on complex mental health fixes rather than focusing on keeping dangerous criminals off the street — she knows real crime reforms would be rejected by the progressive majorities in the House and Senate before they are even debated.

House Republicans are ready to work with the governor and legislative Democrats to find bipartisan consensus on ideas that will have an immediate and positive impact on protecting families and neighborhoods across New Mexico.  However, for that bipartisan cooperation to exist, it’s time for the governor and the Democrat-majority Legislature to start listening to the demands of New Mexicans who are tired of seeing children die because of bureaucratic incompetence and watching their communities be riddled with violence and drug-related deaths.

It is ultimately up to the voters to decide whether to tolerate the yearly inaction from legislative Democrats, or if they are ready for real change. The people are watching what the upcoming special session will accomplish to make them safer, and if improvements are not immediate, the November election is the perfect opportunity for voters to voice their disapproval of those who refuse to protect New Mexico and its people.

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