Political News

New Mexico Lawmakers Begin Abortion Debate Monday

By DANIEL J. CHACÓN
SFNM

Less than a week after the New Mexico Legislature’s opening day, lawmakers will begin debating what could be one of the most controversial measures of the 60-day session: the proposed repeal of a 1969 law that makes it a crime to perform an abortion in the state.

The statute has been unenforceable since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. But women’s rights advocates and others worry the high court could overturn or weaken that decision — in which justices found overly restrictive state government regulations of abortion unconstitutional


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New Mexico COVID-19 Update: 884 New Cases, Total Now 165,835 With 34 New Deaths And 89,756 Patients Recovered

STATE News:

SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials announced this afternoon 884 additional positive tests for COVID-19.

Los Alamos County reports 8 new cases today bringing the total to 401 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Today’s update includes 34 new deaths in New Mexico related to COVID-19.

The New Mexico Department of Health reports today’s most recent cases:

  • 213 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 31 new cases in Chaves County
  • 5 new cases in Cibola County
  • 1 new case in Colfax County
  • 13 new cases in Curry County
  • 1 new case in De Baca County
  • 144 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 53 new cases

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Chart 312: COVID-19 In New Mexico Jan. 20, 2021

The two lines in this chart show: (i) the percentage of New Mexicans who were diagnosed with COVID-19 versus date, and (ii) COVID-19 vaccinations administered in New Mexico, as percentage of the state’s population, versus date. In New Mexico, about 5 percent of the population received at least one dose, and about 1 percent of the population received two doses. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Mexico Department of Health. Created by Eli Ben-Naim

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Governor: Peaceful Transfer Of Power On Inauguration Day

Joe Biden addressing the nation this morning during his inauguration as the 46th president. Screenshot/LADP 

From the Office of the Governor:

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the following statement today upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden:

“The peaceful transfer of power is a cornerstone of American democracy. And the change in leadership enacted today is one of the most meaningful in the recent history of our nation. Better days are ahead for all of us. I congratulate President Biden and Vice President Harris, and I am praying for them and their families. Their success


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Skolnik: Global Health Challenges In The Age Of COVID

By RICHARD SKOLNIK
Los Alamos

(Based on remarks given to the Honors Program of the Erasmus Medical College, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Global Health Challenges in the Age of COVID

The Key Issues

The present pandemic is the quintessential global health problem. Yet, it is not the only global health challenge that we face. I comment below both on the pandemic and on other critical issues in global health.

Getting COVID under Control

“The health of anyone, anywhere, is the health of everyone, everywhere”. COVID highlights the importance of this, since no country can be safe, as long as the virus


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Heinrich, Luján Support Biden Plan To Utilize Defense Production Act, Increase Medical Equipment And Supplies

From the Office of U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján joined 24 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, supporting his incoming administration’s plan to quickly utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to rapidly increase the production and stockpiling of medical, testing and protective equipment supplies.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Heinrich and Luján have been calling on the Trump administration to fully utilize the DPA to ramp up nationwide production


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New Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart Issues Call For Unity At Opening Day Of 2021 Legislative Session

Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart

STATE News:

Newly elected Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart issued the following statement calling for unity from Democrats and Republicans on opening day of the 2021 New Mexico Legislative Session Tuesday:

“I am humbled and gratified by the trust my colleagues in the New Mexico State Senate have placed in me. But today is about all of us, together.

“The continuing COVID pandemic and our national crisis have threatened all of those we love and represent. These threats have shown us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if we define the stakes as winner-take-all,


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2021 New Mexico Legislative Session Opens Quietly

The Republican side of the state House of Representatives was full during the first day of the 2021 legislative session on Tuesday. Republican representatives didn’t work remotely. Luis Sánchez Saturno/SFNM

The Democratic side of the House of Representatives was mostly empty during the first day of the 2021 legislative session on Tuesday. Democratic representatives worked mostly remotely. Luis Sánchez Saturno/SFNM

By ROBERT NOTT and DANIEL CHACON
SFNM

After all the concerns about a potential demonstration (or worse) interrupting the proceedings, the 2021 session of the New Mexico


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Legislative Roundup: 59 Days Left In 2021 Session

Legislative Roundup
SFNM

Technical difficulties: While the House of Representatives jumped into action right around noon, the Senate didn’t get started until about 12:45 p.m. Officials blamed an issue with the computer that works the video and visual screen in the chamber.

Oh, say can you see?: In the House, a band of seniors from the New Mexico School for the Arts sang, via an audio loop, the national anthem while a video display showcased students from the school translating the words in American sign language to the song. Legislators, visibly moved by the performance, broke out in


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Ringside Seat: Wound Remains Open For Sen. Bill O’Neill

State Sen. Bill O’Neill

By MILAN SIMONICH
SFNM

One of state Sen. Bill O’Neill’s better stories didn’t make it into his latest semi-autobiographical novel.

O’Neill quit something once in his life, and he says the wound is still open after 45 years.

He was a 155-pound wide receiver at Cornell University, a doormat of Ivy League football. George Seifert was the coach.

“He did not like me,” O’Neill said. “He just looked at me like, what are you doing out here?”

O’Neill couldn’t coexist with his taciturn coach. He quit the team. Seifert was fired soon after, having won only three of 18 games in his two


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VIDEO: U.S. Sen. Heinrich Questions Defense Secretary Nominee On New Mexico Priorities, Modernization

From the Office of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:

  • U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is asking that Secretary-designate Austin look into the recent Space Command basing decision, prepare plans for PFAS remediation among other action, if confirmed
  • If confirmed, Sen. Heinrich also has asked that Austin work to ensure that Los Alamos National Laboratory is able to complete its mission of producing 30 plutonium pits by 2026.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) participated in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider the nomination of retired U.S. Army General Lloyd


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New Mexico COVID-19 Update: 691 New Cases, Total Now 164,954 With 20 New Deaths And 88,982 Patients Recovered

STATE News:

SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials announced this afternoon 691 additional positive tests for COVID-19.

Los Alamos County again today reports no new cases … the total remains at 393 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Today’s update includes 20 new deaths in New Mexico related to COVID-19.

The New Mexico Department of Health reports today’s most recent cases:

  • 257 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 22 new cases in Chaves County
  • 2 new cases in Cibola County
  • 19 new cases in Curry County
  • 1 new case in De Baca County
  • 85 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 22 new cases in Eddy County
  • 10

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Editorial: Applicant­ Shielding Bill For Leadership Positions Doesn’t Deserve Day Of Consideration

State Sen. Bill Tallman (D-Bernalillo)

EDITORIAL:

Based on little more than a hunch, an Albuquerque state lawmaker has unfortunately once again filed a bill to keep secret the names of those who apply for leadership positions in New Mexico like police chief or school superintendent.

Under the bill filed by state Sen. Bill Tallman, all “appoint­ive executive positions” would be subject to exemption from the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. In addition to police chiefs, fire chiefs, school superintendents, city man­agers and other top taxpayer ­funded positions, Tallman’s bill


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Los Alamos Residents Encouraged To Provide Input To State Of New Mexico On Outdoor Recreation Plan

State Parks Division News:

The State of New Mexico is looking for citizen input on outdoor recreation and with its significant population of outdoor enthusiasts, Los Alamos is a great resource for that information.

The 2021-2026 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) is in development by the State Parks Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), with input from local, state, and federal agencies, outdoor recreation businesses, non-profits, and interested citizens.

The plan provides recommendations to guide outdoor recreation providers


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North Mesa Options Analysis: Seeking Letters Of Interest

COUNTY News:

Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) and Los Alamos County (LAC) have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to pursue options for utilizing approximately 29 acres of school-owned property on North Mesa east of Los Alamos Middle School.

The North Mesa Working Group – a committee of elected officials and staff representing LAPS and LAC – is seeking letters of interest to appoint up to three community members who will assist them in developing a property plan that includes:

  • Understanding options for recurring revenue generation and housing, especially for workforce housing,

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New Mexico Indian Affairs Secretary Reflects On MLK’s Unrealized Promise For Equity For All People of Color

IAD Secretary Lynn Trujillo

IAD News:

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD) Secretary Lynn Trujillo issued the following statement Monday regarding the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Today, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose vision for equity and equality for all remains, sadly, unfulfilled.

“This past year has shined a new light on the social and economic injustices we have yet to right, especially for all people of color.

“Our nation is undergoing a new reckoning with our responsibility to right the wrongs that lead more Native


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Officials Wait On Estimate For State Capitol Security Cost

Scene of roadblocks set up around the Capitol Monday, including at the corner of Don Gaspar Avenue and Paseo de Peralta. City and state officials say they don’t have a final estimate on what added security measures near the state Capitol will cost. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/SFNM

By SEAN P. THOMAS
SFNM

City and state officials say they don’t have a final estimate on what added security measures near the state Capitol will cost.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said the city is keeping track of expenses in hopes of being reimbursed by the federal government, but he acknowledged he is not sure how much those


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New Mexico 2021 Legislative Session Begins At Noon Tuesday Against Bizarre Backdrop Never Seen Before

Roadblocks were up around the Capitol today, including at the corner of Don Gaspar Avenue and Paseo de Peralta. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/SFNM

Damacio Otero, deputy sergeant-at-arms of the state Senate, organizes bill books at the desk of Sen. Leo Jaramillo, D-Los Alamos, today at the Roundhouse. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/SFNM

By ROBERT NOTT
Santa Fe New Mexican

The 2021 legislative session begins Tuesday at noon, against a bizarre backdrop that’s never been contemplated, much less seen.

The Capitol building remains surrounded by fencing, concrete barriers and blocked roads.


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New Mexico Lawmakers May Have To Wait Until November Or December To Tackle Major State Redistricting Plan

By ROBERT NOTT
SFNM

New Mexico lawmakers hoping to tackle a major state redistricting plan in a September special session got some surprising news today. 

They may have to wait until November or December, due to census data delays.

Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff, whose company Research & Polling Inc. plans to help compile data for the redistricting effort, told members of the Legislative Council the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the 2020 U.S. census, which will hinder New Mexico’s process of drawing new voting district boundaries based on population changes.

“We can’t do our work until


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