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.
Chickens, pot and younger voters: Lawmakers dropped a series of new bills during the Senate floor session Wednesday. Among the highlights: Sen. Jacob Candelaria, (D-Albuquerque), is shepherding another cannabis legalization measure.
Sen. Carrie Hamblen, (D-Las Cruces), is sponsoring a bill “providing for the registration of qualified residents who are 16 or 17 years of age to vote in regular local elections, municipal elections and special local elections.”
And Sen. Pete Campos, (D-Las Vegas), introduced a bill that would prohibit “certain confinement of egg laying hens” and prohibit “the sale of eggs from confined hens.”
GOP calls on Anderson to resign: The Republican Party of New Mexico has called on state Rep. Phelps Anderson, who sided with Democrats on a vote to repeal an antiquated abortion ban, to resign.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the GOP said the Roswell lawmaker’s decision to switch party affiliation from Republican to “declined to state” after his vote on the anti-abortion law was a “betrayal” to the people in of District 66, which includes Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt counties.
“Rep. Anderson should step down immediately,” state GOP Chairman Steve Pearce said in the statement. “He ran as a Republican, and he’s chosen to leave those who had trusted him to represent them in Santa Fe. Rep. Anderson was just re-elected in November to a seat that is heavily Republican. The principled action would have been to re-register before the election. Instead, voters got a bait and switch from someone they trusted with their vote.”
Anderson has said he has no plans to resign.
Local control on school openings halted: Members of the House Health and Human Services Committee voted 6-4 to table a bill that would have let local school boards decide if students should go back to school during a public health crisis.
House Bill 182 was introduced by three Republicans and two Democrats. It is similar to Senate Bill 171, which also hit a snag recently, when members of the Senate Education Committee voted 4-4 on the proposal, effectively killing it. Both bills were borne out of the frustration parents, students and some legislators over the challenges of having children learn from home.
“This bill is necessary,” said Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, one of the sponsors of the House bill, in response to criticisms that it was not needed because schools are slowly reopening for hybrid learning, which combines in-person instruction with remote lessons from home.
“The governor could change her mind next week,” he said. “… We’re trying to give local school boards control.”
Baldonado cited a January survey by Research and Polling Inc. of 500 New Mexicans. The report said 52 percent of those polled believe local school districts should decide when to resume in-person learning, while 30 percent said they believe the decision should be up to state officials. Another 6 percent said “both” entities should make that call.
While 66 percent said schools should be open and 71 percent said they are concerned about their children or grandchildren falling behind, 48 percent expressed concern that kids would contract the virus at school and bring it home — a point several lawmakers made.
Quotes of the day: “Public testimony wore you out.” — Rep. Natalie Figueroa, D-Albuquerque, to her colleagues on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, following a nearly 2 1/2-hour public hearing on a bill proposing broad changes to the state’s liquor license laws. Figueroa had asked lawmakers to weigh in on the bill, but a lengthy silence followed.
“I think we need to see that in finance because we want to make sure we don’t get all our eggs in one basket.” — Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, referring to committee assignments for a new bill that would prohibit “certain confinement of egg laying hens” and prohibit “the sale of eggs from confined hens.