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Legislature says “no” to prosperity (again)

By Paul J. Gessing

As Sen. George Muñoz (D-Gallup) told the floor as debate over this year’s budget wrapped up. “You’re not a poor state. Quit telling other people you’re a poor state.”

He’s right. The State of New Mexico is NOT poor. But what about the people of New Mexico? Among the citizens poverty remains high. According to World Population Review, New Mexico has the third-highest poverty rate in the US. Crime remains troubling and the education system is in dire straits.

The State of New Mexico (meaning the government itself) has had massive surpluses in recent years. Sadly, the government has either held onto or spent a majority of those dollars. The Legislature and its policies keep New Mexicans poor while the State retains massive wealth. A 2023 report stated that New Mexico’s permanent funds amount to $43 billion.  

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How Progressives and Emerge NM cohorts tried to change Tax Law in New Mexico


By Leanna Derrick – 505-210-1460, 68sharpie@gmail.com


Senator Mimi Stewart
Rep. Christine Chandler ENM’18
Rep. Linda Serrato ENM’18
Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero ENM’07 


SB 3 is a tax bill to create a new fund that benefits employees but mandates businesses to carry the burden making it difficult for business owners to thrive or could shut their doors in New Mexico. SB 3 would have set up a program to be run by the Department of Workforce Solutions at an estimated startup cost of $36 million and be funded by contributions from all employees and employers with more than five workers. Opponents argued the program will place an extra financial burden on both businesses and employees, and without penalties could allow for employees to commit fraud and abuse the fund.

Democratic Legislators neglected and overlooked opportunities to include conservative input.  At key moments, decision makers overstepped their privileges of power to shut down constituents who voiced opposition to the bill.  Throughout there were actions that indicate a coordinated effort to maneuver this bill through committee preference and arrange this legislation into law.

One goal of Emerge New Mexico, a political training program, is to repower political structures by flipping state legislatures, transforming campaigns and office leadership into majority-woman, and filling appointed boards and commissions with Emerge Alumnae.  In the case of SB 3, actions by cohorts do align with the Emerge New Mexico goals.

SB 3 is an expansion of the 1993 Federal Paid Leave Act.  Emerge America championing this effort to create a separate state fund.   Eleven other states (including Washington, D.C.) have created statewide, government-run paid family and medical leave programs. 

1.       All new legislation should go through either or both house’s judiciary committee, yet SB 3 was not heard in either judiciary committees. 

2.       According to Carla Sonntag, in 2022 the NM Business Coalition, was invited to participate in the Paid Family & Medical Leave Task Force organized by the Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWLC). The Business Coalition created a survey, tabulated the results, and presented their findings that businesses independence business could not afford the burden of this tax. The task force did not take into consideration the needs of the state’s business owners.

3.       Currently, 3 Emerge alumnae are serving on the SWLC board:

·         SWLC Officer President Mary Clark ENM’15, employed as the sustainability manager at the University of New Mexico, overseeing the Office of Sustainability.  

·         SWLC Director Erika Harding ENM’09, current Director of Amplify Consulting & Communications solutions, former Chief Replication Officer and Global Replication Director at the ECHO Institute for many years.

·         SWLC Director Sydney Tellez ENM’18, JD from University of New Mexico School of Law, 2023.

4.       The Senate Committee’s Committee determined SB 3 would be heard in the Senate Finance Committee. SB 3 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee over 5 hours on Thursday evening (2/8/2024) and made statewide media coverage because of the voter pushback.  Passed in the Senate - Y:25 N:15.

5.       The Speaker of the House determined which committee a bill will be scheduled to be heard.   In the case of SB 3, the bill was heard in House Health and Human Services Committee.  SB 3 was scheduled late Sunday evening to be heard the next morning on Monday at 8:30 am giving little notice for the public to attend in person.

6.       Rep. Liz Thomson, Chair of House Health and Human Services Committee repeatedly overstepped her privilege of power by shutting down committee discussion even when prompted by any of the three Republican committee members that their questions were on behalf of their constituents.  Chair Thomson dictated that public testimony was limited to 20 testimonies for 1 minute per speakers, 10 each for/opposing. 

7.       Testimony from constituent groups against the bill were more numerous in number than testimony for the bill.  Opposing testimony from the NM Restaurant association, Business Coalition, and Better Together New Mexico could not sway the Do Pass Vote 7 to 3. Action:  Reported by committee with Do Pass recommendation

House Health and Human Services Committee Members

Name                                                       District  Party  Role

Rep Elizabeth "Liz" Thomson  ENM’09      24          D      Chair            

Rep Pamelya Herndon                              28           D      Vice Chair
Rep Jenifer Jones                                     32           R      Ranking Member
Rep Kathleen Cates   ENM’22                  44           D      Member
Rep Eleanor Chávez                                 26          D      Member
Rep Joanne J. Ferrary   ENM’13              37           D      Member
Rep Tara Jaramillo                                   38            D      Member
Rep Stefani Lord                                      22           R       Member
Rep Reena Szczepanski   ENM’08          47           D       Member
Rep Harlan Vincent                                  56           R       Member



8.       SB3 was introduced on Thursday evening in the Senate Finance Committee and ended with Do Pass 6 to 5. In retrospect, the best chance to defeat the bill was in this committee.  Only one Emerge alumnae is on the committee.  

Senate Finance Committee Members 

       Name                                            District    Party      Role

Sen George K. Muñoz                          4             D           Chair

Sen Nancy Rodriguez                         24            D           Vice Chair

Sen William E. Sharer                         1             R            Ranking Member

Sen William F. Burt                             33            R            Member

Sen Pete Campos                                8            D           Member

Sen Crystal Diamond Brantley           35            R           Member

Sen Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales       6            D           Member

Sen Siah Correa Hemphill  ENM’19   28            D          Member

Sen Michael Padilla                           14            D           Member

Sen Jeff Steinborn                             36            D           Member

Sen Pat Woods                                   7            R           Member


9.        SB3 was killed on the House Floor on 2/14/2024. The state House of Representatives voted 36-34 Wednesday to defeat a bill that would have created a statewide paid family and medical leave program. 11 Democrats joined 25 Republicans to stop Senate Bill 3.

10.   Better Together New Mexico counted over 80,000 responses in emails and phone call from voters who opposed SB 3. 

Editorial comments on recent LTE on NM clean energy efforts

The first paragraph alleges that "progress on the federal level has been lagging. A bit of research shows that the US Department of Energy seems to disagree by touting its 2023 "accomplishments": https://www.energy.gov/articles/us-department-energy-top-clean-energy-accomplishments-2023 

That same paragraph noted that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has supported "improving New Mexico's air quality...and is positing NM to become a leader in clean energy."

Yes, the governor has been pushing green energy. Most likely because she receives a lot of her donations from the radical environmental groups. [If you want to dig into her financial records, good luck and have fun, but I think you will find that a lot of her supporters fit the description).

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HMS alleged to be phasing out old phone system to the detriment of its patients

It has come to this editor's attention that HMS has brought in a new phone system to replace one that they will allegedly phase out later this year.

The problem, according to HMS clients, is the new number to call for appointments does not work as a local call on their landlines. The new number is considered a long-distance call from within Silver City and nearby areas, such as Tyrone, Bayard, Santa Clara, Pinos Altos or Hurley, for those patients with local/911 only phone service accounts with CenturyLink.

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Letter to the Editor supporting Clean Water

I am a mother to an 8-year-old boy, and I work for The National Center for Frontier Communities/Food Hub, clean water holds a deeply personal significance to me. Not only do I witness the direct impact of water quality on the food grown locally, but as a parent, I cherish the moments spent with my son swimming in the rivers, gardening, and exploring local watersheds. Clean water isn't just a necessity for our livelihoods; it is central to the well-being and joy of our community, our families, and our environment.

How can we survive without access to clean, safe water? The obvious answer is we can't. Our families require clean water for drinking water; our farmers need clean water to irrigate crops and pasture; and our local businesses rely on clean water to function.

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Editorial on proposed Mimbres National Monument

Recently a group of environmental activists proposed to make 250,000 acres of land in Southern New Mexico the latest national monument. The plan is to make four non-contiguous (meaning not connected) pieces of land part of a new national monument. Those areas are in the Florida Mountains, Tres Hermanas, Good Sight Mountains, and Cookes Range, all of which are near Deming. 

The lands are already under federal control (by the Bureau of Land Management or BLM), but a monument would further restrict the use of these lands. I own Spanish Stirrup Rock Shop, LLC and the SS Stone Gallery in Luna County and Lincoln County, New Mexico. I mine precious stones in the area being considered for the monument and I’m afraid the restrictive nature of these lands would put me out of business. For example, after the 2014 designation of the Organ Peaks Mountains all rock hounding in an area called Kilbourne Hole was eliminated.

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Rebuttal to earlier editorial on SB 111

Your Op-ed on SB 111 published on 26 January, 2024 begs for clarification.

SB 111 specified money and purpose. The purpose is to fund the following as specified in the bill:

"(1) protect water in the state through additional monitoring and enforcement of existing regulations;
(2) conduct additional mapping to better understand how changes to the federal Clean Water Act of 1977 affect water in the state."

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Democrats' Backroom Bargaining Blemish Covered Up with Deception and Deflection

By State Representative Rod Montoya (R-Farmington)

Just when you think progress is being made with regards to good government and legislative transparency, something happens that restores the public distrust and skepticism that has plagued public office holders for generations.

Last year, Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature laid the groundwork for what today can only be described as legislative malfeasance by attempting to fund, under the cover of darkness, hundreds of legislative staffers for House and Senate members. It was contentious to say the least, as Republicans have vocally opposed this concept from the beginning. In short, Republicans believe funding legislative staff would be akin to taxpayer-funded campaign staff. The effort last year failed, but Democrats were successful in appropriating millions of dollars to study the idea.

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