This story appears in both The Paper and the Santa Fe New Mexican through a partnership to bring our readers the best in reporting from the legislature.
Herrell calls out Lujan Grisham: In a Thursday afternoon tweet from her congressional Twitter account, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, New Mexico’s sole Republican in Congress, invited Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to her office while she’s in Washington, D.C. The Governor’s Office announced Thursday that Lujan Grisham was traveling to the nation’s capital for a meeting on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief package.
“I hear you’re meeting with @POTUS (President of the United States),” Herrell tweeted. “What a great opportunity to tell him how his leasing ban will harm New Mexico! I’ll be in DC [on Friday] as well. Why not come by my office and we can talk about it?” Herrell’s tweet generated multiple responses, but none from the governor.
Show us the money: Rep. Miguel P. García, (D-Albuquerque), said members of the media do not spotlight all the good deeds lawmakers do with their individual capital outlay funds, which they are allocated every year for projects in their communities.
García said he plans to spend his money on freshwater projects, paving projects and playground equipment. Sometimes he doesn’t sleep at night as he worries about whether to commit those funds to a senior center or a road project, he said during a discussion on House Bill 55, which would require lawmakers to publish details on how they use their capital outlay funds every year. Under current state statute, they are not required to, though some do so.
As it turned out, García was the only representative to vote against the bill, which the House approved Thursday.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. Similar bills have passed through the House in past sessions, only to die in the Senate.
Rep. Matthew McQueen D-Galisteo, one of the sponsors of HB 55, said he believes it may make it through the Senate this year. “It’s the right thing to do in terms of transparency,” he said.
Burn, baby, burn: Thursday was a good morning for McQueen. The House also unanimously approved HB 57, which he co-sponsored. It allows private landowners to conduct prescribed burns on their property and limits any charges filed against them — should the fire get out of control and cause damage.
Private landowners can attend a voluntary training and certification program to learn how to conduct those fires.
The state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department says in a report on the bill it could help “remove barriers to prescribed burning for private landowners that will result in more prescribed burning on private lands that will pre-treat those lands to reduce fuel loads to slow the spread of wildfires and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and risks to our communities, drinking water and forests.”
The bill is on its way to the Senate.
Quotes of the day: “We had a very good and very frank and honest conversation, and we left in a very good place between him and me.” — House Speaker Brian Egolf, (D-Santa Fe), describing a meeting he had with the president of the New Mexico State Police Association, Sgt. Jose Carrasco, who accused Democratic lawmakers of pursuing legislation that would take away tools officers need to safely do their jobs.
“Although you can’t really tell what we are all talking about, who would like to go next?” Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart, (D-Albuquerque). Stewart made the remark following a confusing sequence of events involving proposed amendments and substitute bills during a debate on a controversial abortion measure.
“I got 100 percent of the vote last year. No one voted for the other guy. Well, there was no other guy.” — Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho. Brandt ran unopposed for his District 40 seat.