Legislature delivers virus aid, civil rights; falters on pot

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are closing out a 60-day legislative session that charts an financial exit from the COVID-19 pandemic after checking off progressive priorities on policing reforms, abortion rights, medical assist in dying and attacking baby poverty by tapping a state belief fund.

In the session’s remaining hours, legislators ramped up state tax breaks for working households — a completion on a broad bundle of financial aid measures.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has eagerly signed payments that present grants and minimal-interest loans to small companies, a $600 tax rebate to low-income employees and a four-month tax vacation to the meals service trade.

Lawmakers embraced an overhaul of the state’s liquor legal guidelines in an effort to rejuvenate the tourism and hospitality industries that floor to a halt through the pandemic beneath aggressive public well being orders. The new regulation overcame resistance from incumbent liquor license holders to make it simpler for eating places to serve combined drinks and permit residence alcohol supply.

At the identical time, a yearslong push to legalize leisure hashish stumbled amid divergent views amongst advocates. The governor helps legalization to create jobs — and will name legislators again for a particular session on the difficulty.

The Legislature responded to final year’s nationwide protests over police brutality with approval of a invoice that will finish police immunity from prosecution and permit civil rights lawsuits in state court docket on the whole lot from racial discrimination to unlawful search and seizure and freedom of speech violations.

With backing from Native American and Black activists, lawmakers authorised a invoice that bans hair-based discrimination within the workplace and faculties.

But payments fell flat that challenged police procedures on use of power, chokeholds and misconduct critiques.

A finances invoice from the Legislature directs huge new monetary resources towards public training, as faculties throughout the state put together to return to in-person instructing in early April after a year of on-line research.

Legislators are asking the governor to approve a 5.8% enhance normally fund spending on public faculties within the coming fiscal year, for a complete of $3.35 billion.

Lawmakers additionally queued up a statewide vote on a constitutional modification that will faucet a further $250 million yearly from the state’s multibillion-dollar belief fund.

A bipartisan effort to reverse the governor’s pandemic well being and faculty restrictions fizzled as COVID-19 infections waned and faculties have been allowed to reopen.

The session highlighted shifting attitudes towards abortion in a closely Roman Catholic state, as Democrats made good on marketing campaign guarantees to rescind the state’s dormant 1969 ban on most abortion procedures — guaranteeing abortion entry in case the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down its Roe v. Wade determination.

In one other political sea change, a invoice to ban the usage of traps, snare and poison on public lands gained remaining approval from the House of Representatives by a one-vote margin.

Republican Rep. Gail Armstrong of Magdalena mentioned the ban highlights a widening urban-rural political divide.

“This is going to be devastating for the people in my community that make a living doing this,” Armstrong mentioned.

Advocates for setting safety cheered the approval of a invoice permitting native governments to institute stringent air high quality requirements — and blasted Democratic legislative leaders for sidelining a proposed environmental invoice of rights.


Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on under-covered points. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.

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