Morning Word

Senate Passes Bill Protecting Abortion, Gender-Affirming Health Care

Tonight: City Council to consider next steps for obelisk and other monuments

Senate passes reproductive/gender-affirming health care bill

After close to three hours of debate (right around the 12:23 pm mark) and failed Republican amendments yesterday, the state Senate yesterday passed on a 23-15 vote House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Freedom Act, sending the bill back to the House for concurrence on amendments made in committee. The House passed the measure last month on a 38-31 vote. The bill, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham backs, would bar public bodies from discriminating against individuals’ health care on the basis of gender and from refusing or blocking their access to reproductive health care. In the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last June, several New Mexico cities have passed ordinances banning abortion; this bill makes that illegal and includes enforcement and penalty provisions. The bill also would bar interference with “gender-affirming health care,” defined in the act as “psychological, behavioral, surgical, pharmaceutical and medical care, services and supplies provided to support a person’s gender identity.” In introducing the bill on the Senate floor, state Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque said: “Part of my job here as a legislator is to make an effort to make New Mexico a better place every day. I was born and raised here in New Mexico, and throughout my time here at home, I have needed access to reproductive services. These services have been essential to my wellbeing and allowed me to get to where I am today; it’s incumbent on the Legislature to safeguard them against restriction or prejudice moving forward.”

Council to weigh next steps for Plaza obelisk tonight

A proposal to redesign the controversial Plaza obelisk returns for public comment at tonight’s City Council meeting. Originally unveiled in early February, the proposal from City Councilors Chris Rivera, Amanda Chavez, Carol Romero-Wirth and Renee Villarreal builds on recommendations from the CHART report (Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth), assembled in the aftermath of the 2020 destruction of the monument during Indigenous People’s Day. Tonight’s resolution is currently scheduled under the Council’s “consent” agenda portion of the meeting—meaning it could be passed without public discussion—but Councilor Romero-Wirth tells the Santa Fe New Mexican there are plans to move it out of the consent agenda so the public can comment. At least some folks appear to be organizing to protest at tonight’s meeting the prospect of restoring the obelisk. Several changes have been made to the original resolution, such as eliminating an initial plan to “remove the box covering the broken obelisk, take down the fence surrounding the obelisk, and, to the extent permitted under the city’s code, install temporary lighting to shine into the sky, representing hope.” Instead, the resolution directs the city manager to conduct a risk assessment and threat analysis for any actionable measures involving the obelisk. In addition, Mayor Alan Webber tells the New Mexican he intends to introduce several last minute amendments, including the incorporation of a water feature into the reconstructed obelisk and the relocation of the Don Diego de Vargas and Tesuque Pueblo runner statues to the New Mexico History Museum.

Smoke and mirrors

With the end of the Legislature a week and a half away (noon, March 18), lawmakers may still give the green light to several cannabis-related laws, but it’s getting down to the wire. SFR staff writer Andy Lyman walks through those bills, which include House Bill 313, intended to smooth out a disparity between what cannabis micro-business and larger producers are allowed to grow. Current law cements plant counts for those smaller growers in statute at 200 mature plants; larger scale growers can have up to 20,000. HB 314 would clean up the expungement process, which “is the key portion of why we legalized recreational cannabis,” sponsor Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, tells SFR. HB 429, which Romero is co-sponsoring, is another clean-up bill that adds cannabis to the list of contraband forbidden in jails and prisons (needed, supporters say, because the plant was inadvertently removed through the Cannabis Regulation Act). Senate Bill 242, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, would require medical cannabis patients to renew their cards every two years instead of three. And SB 147, sponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, and Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, would slightly change how recreational-use cannabis is taxed.

Former Navajo Nation President Zah dies

A key figure in the Navajo Nation’s history, former President Peterson Zah died yesterday at the age of 85 at a hospital in Fort Defiance, Arizona. In its report of Zah’s death, the Associated Press notes he was the first president elected on the Navajo Nation—the United States’ largest tribe including portions of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah—in 1990, following governmental restructuring and a deadly riot sparked by a political adversary the year prior. Zah, his longtime friend Eric Eberhard tells the AP, vowed to rebuild the tribe: “People trusted him, they knew he was honest,” Eberhard says. He was the first chairman current Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren ever met, the Navajo Times reports. When he thinks of Zah, Nygren says, “I think legendary Permanent Trust Fund. He was big on education. He was big on everything that he built his career around was for the future…And the way he spoke too was always so elegant—he didn’t have to speak fast, he didn’t have to speak fancy Navajo—he was like really just strong and to the point.” In a Twitter post, Nygren added: “A great leader and advocate, he ushered in a new era of Navajo democracy. We will miss him dearly.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported March 7: New cases: 207; 670,508 total cases. Deaths: two; Santa Fe County has had 399 total deaths; 9,056 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 108. Patients on ventilators: seven

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Feb. 23 “community levels” map shows one county, McKinley, has turned yellow, indicating medium levels; the rest of the state has green—low levels. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

NPR’s All Songs Considered program recently spotlit a new song from Arthur Moon titled “Ghost Ranch.” Some lyrics: “Georgia O’Keeffe at the beach/makes a speech/about dying and reincarnation/While Alfred Stieglitz eats a peach/and makes a tamer proclamation.” Arthur Moon’s Lora-Faye Åshuvud says while she was writing the track she had taped to her wall Tony Vaccaro’s photograph of O’Keeffe sitting in the back seat of a car looking through the hole in a piece of Swiss cheese. The photograph, Åshuvud says, “echoes” some of O’Keeffe’s paintings she made in New Mexico, in which the perspective of bones and sky become “disorienting…like the frame is framing nothing. Or we’re suddenly looking at life from a different angle; from the perspective of the bones or the broader arc of time, which feels to me like a reflection on the way we frame and tether ourselves to customs and mores and the kind of arbitrary nature of that when you look at it against the vastness of the landscape.”

Batty history

A new book chronicling the research and development section of the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner to the CIA) documents a variety of strange ideas hatched by the OSS, including one involving New Mexico. The New York Times recently reviewed The Dirty Tricks Department: Stanley Lovell, the OSS, and the Masterminds of World War II Secret Warfare by John Lisle, which details the department’s ideas for “covert ways to baffle, terrify, destabilize and destroy the enemy: Poison pills, silent guns, gizmos to derail trains, invisible inks, truth serums, forgeries, exploding dough, disguises and camouflage,” among them, an initiative led by industrial chemist Lovell, an “eccentric innovator who took pride in the most outlandish and lethal inventions.” One idea came from dentist Lytle Adams after he visited Carlsbad Caverns. “Bat Bomb” involved strapping “timed incendiary devices” to the Carlsbad bats to be dropped into Japan. Eleanor Roosevelt backed the idea, writing OSS founder William “Wild Bill” Donovan to tell him: “This man is not a nut. It sounds like a perfectly wild idea but is worth your time looking into.” The plan was eventually abandoned, although many bats taken from caves in the Southwest “died horribly” during an early experiment (you can read more about this “idea” in a 2011 Atlantic magazine story).

Living large

Dwell magazine gives some free ink to two high-end pieces of Santa Fe real estate. Sol y Sombra, once home to both Georgia O’Keeffe and Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, has remained on the market in Santa Fe for approximately the last year and a half, but has had a price drop of $2.5 million (according to and now lists for $15 million. Dwell magazine recently featured the Old Santa Fe Trail property, which boasts 21 bedrooms and 26 baths across 18,663 square feet, located on 20 acres, with a quote from Keller Williams Luxury Santa Fe listing agent Paul Duran: “In the 45-plus years I have been a real estate broker, I have never set foot on a property that compares to the experience Sol y Sombra provides.” Some of those bedrooms and bathrooms can be found in the property’s two guesthouses and lodge, which offer overnight accommodations for guests. The property also includes a conference center and catering kitchen. The Greenhouse “showcases a Bodhi tree grown from a seed of the tree the Buddha sat beneath to attain enlightenment, a gift from the Dalai Lama after visiting the property.” Another Santa Fe property, a home built by Frank Lloyd Wright, made Dwell’s “most popular homes” list for February. Wright designed the Pottery House in 1943 for a client in El Paso, Texas, but it wasn’t built until 1984 when developer Charles Klotsche finally erected the home in 1984 in Santa Fe; and Richard Poe undertook serious renovations when he purchased it in 2016. Also on the luxury real estate beat, Mansion Global examines “what does it take to be Santa Fe’s most expensive home” in a video about the $28 million Vida Encantada.

A place in the sun

A mostly sunny day today, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a high temperature near 58 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest 15 to 20 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word always happily reads a new interview with Margaret Atwood (and will also read her new story collection).

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