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THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. GOV. TO HOST CLOSED-DOOR SUMMIT ON GUN SAFETY ON WEDNESDAY; PROPOSES EXPANDING BACKGROUND CHECKS ON GUN SALES TO INCLUDE BOTH SELLER AND BUYER

Tomorrow, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is holding a summit on gun safety. It is closed to the public. Republican Rep. Candy Spence Ezell will represent House Republican leadership.

From the Associated Press:

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says her administration is considering whether to extend background checks on private gun sales to the sellers of firearms and not just buyers.

The first-year Democratic governor said that adding background checks on gun sellers might allow authorities to better track the movement of firearms.

The comments come as the governor convenes a summit of public safety experts Wednesday to address concerns about domestic terrorism in response to the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22.

The summit of leading public security officials and lawmakers is taking place out of public view and includes an FBI briefing.

Lujan Grisham also expects state authorities to more closely study discriminatory hate groups in the region.

Thus far, she has resisted pressure from her fellow progressive Democrats to call the legislature back to Santa Fe for a special session.

From the New Mexico Political Report:

Despite a call by the Speaker of the House for a special session to deal with domestic terrorism, the governor’s office is expressing caution and indicating a special session is not currently in the offing.

A statement from Dominic Gabello, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s senior advisor for policy and strategy, outlined legislation that the governor supported in this year’s legislative session, including some that became law.

However, Gabello said, “To call for a special session, to lean into the well-founded fears of violence in this state and elsewhere, without a focused plan, without caucus outreach, is the wrong kind of reactive. We can be quick without hurrying.”

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, asked the governor to call the legislature into a special session for legislation to combat domestic terrorism.

2. DEMOCRAT PATRICK KENNEDY: NM MUST SNUFF OUT PUSH TO LEGALIZE BIG POT

We often assume that all Democrats on the national stage are on the side of legalizing recreational marijuana. However, former congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, is coming out swinging against New Mexico's push to legalize the drug in our state. He penned an Op-Ed in this weekend's Albuquerque Journal:

In March, the New Mexico Legislature made the right decision in rejecting Big Marijuana. After a bill to commercialize the drug and put pot shops on every corner passed the House, state senators killed the bill over concerns about public safety and health. Soon after, lawmakers offered a smarter approach and passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession. While this policy is a tremendous win for social justice, Big Marijuana and its backers refuse to give up on so much lost profit, as evidenced by the convening of the Governor’s Working Group on Cannabis Legalization this week.

This group, which features heavy representation from the marijuana industry, has been hand-picked to craft a bill that will push full-scale, Colorado-style legalization through the 30-day legislative session next year. However, the concerns over public health and safety that led senators to press pause on marijuana legalization are not going away. In fact, as more data on marijuana legalization becomes available, their concerns are increasingly justified.

Studies released since the failure of the legalization bill have confirmed concerning links between marijuana use and severe mental illness. One such study, published in the prestigious Lancet journal, found that daily users of average potency marijuana were three times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis. Heavy users of high-potency products, such as marijuana-infused candies, gummies, sodas, and 99% THC waxes, shatters and dabs were five times more likely.

Read the full Op-Ed HERE.

3. AFTER EPSTEIN SUICIDE, WHAT COMES NEXT?

The New Mexico connections to the lurid Jeffrey Epstein case may be getting deeper. Not only have there been allegations about crimes being committed at Epstein's sprawling ranch in Santa Fe County, now comes news from a victim who says that former Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson is connected.

From the Santa Fe New Mexican:

The apparent suicide Saturday of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the politically connected billionaire financier, came a day after unsealed court documents offered new details about some of the lurid allegations against him, including one connected to New Mexico.

A woman alleged that when she was a teenager, Epstein held her as a sex slave and ordered her to have sexual encounters with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and other powerful men.

Claims in the woman’s deposition were not corroborated in the unsealed civil case documents, and Richardson’s spokeswoman on Friday denied the allegation, saying the former governor had never met the woman, Virginia Giuffre.

The news report continues to discuss the status of the investigation into Epstein, despite his apparent suicide:

But shortly after Epstein’s arrest in New York in early July, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he was launching an investigation into whether the financier committed any crimes in the state.

At the time, Balderas’ spokesman, Matt Baca, said, “The Office of the Attorney General has been in contact with survivors and is investigating this horrific matter. We have contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and will be forwarding additional evidence to federal authorities for proper action.”

In an email Saturday, Baca said the investigation will continue.

“While the Epstein suicide is a disturbing development,” Baca said, “the Office of the Attorney General will continue to review all allegations of criminal conduct connected to the Epstein case in New Mexico.”

AG Balderas has not specifically said if he will investigate his fellow Democrat, Bill Richardson. However, RPNM Chairman Steve Pearce has called upon the AG to do so.

"I call on Democrat Attorney General Hector Balderas to confirm that these allegations did not happen Epstein’s Zorro Ranch in New Mexico. If they did, the AG must launch a full investigation into this vile and repulsive behavior and hold his long time mentor accountable, even if it means going against his party to do so."

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20190414