Morning Word

Voting Rights Bill Heads to Governor

Supreme Court gun ruling curtails reform efforts in NM

Voting rights bill proceeds to governor

House Bill 4, the New Mexico Voting Rights Act, heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk, having cleared its final legislative yesterday. Among other provisions, the bill, which Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver supports, enacts the Native American Voting Rights Act; enhances voter registration systems and voter data privacy; creates an optional absentee ballot list; creates automatic voter registration; and restores voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. “The New Mexico Voting Rights Act will empower our diverse communities to participate in our elections, strengthen democracy, and make our government more representative of its people,” co-sponsor Speaker Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, said in a statement. Common Cause New Mexico also lauded the bill’s passage. “At a time when many states are acting to restrict access to the ballot, Common Cause New Mexico is proud of the New Mexico Legislature for making it easier for many, including Native Americans and formerly incarcerated people, to securely cast their ballots,” New Mexico Policy Director Mason Graham said in a statement. The organization also commended lawmakers for passing SB 43 yesterday; that bill—also on its way to the governor—makes intimidation of election officials and workers a fourth-degree felony.

Supreme Court ruling curtails NM gun reform efforts

The Huffington Post examines how a US Supreme Court ruling in a concealed carry case in New York is impacting New Mexico’s legislative attempts to regulate weapons. The court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, overturned a narrow provision of New York’s concealed carry law that employed a proper-cause requirement, saying it violated the 14th Amendment. According to the Huffington Post, the court then sent four other gun cases addressing concealed carry rules; cover magazine restrictions; and an assault weapons ban in New York, California, Maryland and Hawaii back to lower courts, where they remain to be decided. Meanwhile in New Mexico, lawmakers have been holding hearings on a variety of gun-related bills, including an assault weapons ban backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, with most sounding “confused,” Huffington Post writes, about the ruling’s impact on their lawmaking: “Some seemed unaware that the laws they passed might not hold up in court if a similar regulation hadn’t been on the books in the 18th century,” the story notes. “One lawmaker called the ruling ‘mind-boggling.’ Another asked whether their authority was now limited to regulating firearms ‘where you have to manually load the gunpowder.’” With the session nearing its end at noon on March 18, though, the ruling has likely quashed lawmakers’ appetites for extensive gun reform, the story says. “That Bruen ruling is going to hurt us for decades to come,” Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, tells the Huffington Post. “It’s going to be the excuse of every conservative Democrat who doesn’t want to pass common-sense gun laws.”

Local bank fallout

The collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank on Friday and subsequent closure of Signature Bank in New York has, understandably, created a slew of worries about the banking system in general. The Albuquerque Journal talks with three New Mexico experts on the situation’s local impact. Southwest Capital Bank CEO Chez Steel says he “monitors” his peers and “we are healthy with solid balance sheets and good income over the past several years…we meet monthly to discuss and actively manage that risk to the marketplace. Generally, a bank purchases investments with the intent to hold until maturity and spreads out the purchases over a series of months and years.” Local economist Kelly O’Donnell also says she thinks with the FDIC committing to fully protect all depositors “the direct impact on New Mexico depositors should be minimal.” But the banks’ shareholders “are a different story. The potential impact on the state’s investment funds might be worth exploring with someone at the State Investment Council,” she says. OneTen Capital Managing Partner Dorian Rader says New Mexico’s startups may experience fallout: “SVB has been regarded as a go-to bank for startups for many years,” Radar says. “There was a time when they were very active in the New Mexico entrepreneurial scene, so I believe there is likely to be some impact here from their collapse.”

DOH: Screen for colon cancers

The state health department yesterday issued a public health service announcement to acknowledge March as the annual month for colorectal cancer awareness, and an opportunity to raise awareness about the disease’s causes, as well as its prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and cure. “We recommend that people start getting checked for colorectal cancer at age 45 because this is when your risk of developing the cancer goes up, and catching it early means better treatment outcomes,” Deputy DOH Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon said in a statement. “However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain medical conditions, your doctor may recommend starting screening at a younger age. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.” Risks for the disease can be higher for people who have or are related to people who have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer; people with inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis; and people with related genetic syndromes. According to DOH’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, colorectal cancer is New Mexico’s second most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer related death, causing more than 300 deaths in New Mexico annually—close to 10% of the state’s cancer related deaths overall. More information can be found here.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported March 13: New cases: 399 (includes the weekend); 671,522 total cases. Deaths: nine; Santa Fe County has had 402 total deaths; 9,071 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 62. Patients on ventilators: eight

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent March 9 “community levels” map shows the entire state with green—aka 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

Last summer, New Mexico State University brought the Chicana/Latina Studies Journal: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social to campus. The journal, an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, biannual flagship publication of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), also has a podcast on MALCS Radio, now hosted by NMSU counseling psychology doctoral student Sophia Daley. “We just had our fall 2022 issue come out in January,” Daley says in a news release. “For the podcast, we invite every contributor to talk about their writing experience, what it was like to submit to our journal, how the process went and what the piece has meant to them. So, it’s a chance to hear more about them and the significance of their scholarship to C/LS Studies and their intentions behind the piece.” Check out the most recent episode, featuring University of San Diego Assistant Professor of Sociology Odilka Santiago, here, and listen to all previous episodes on the MALCS radio archive.

NM native goes primetime

Axios Latino spotlights NBC News NOW’s “Stay Tuned NOW,” a new primetime streaming program, anchored by Gadi Schwartz, which premiered last night and is “one of the few Latinos to anchor a national US news show, even as Hispanic audiences grow,” Axios notes. NBC News says the show is an extension of its “Stay Tuned” Snapchat “Gen Z news brand averaging 38 million monthly episode views.” The new primetime program “will dive into the day’s most talked-about reports and the latest breaking news.” As for Schwartz, he says: “As someone who was born in Guatemala, and raised in New Mexico, I’m honored to add that additional perspective to our coverage of our communities.” And yes, if his name sounds familiar, Schwartz worked as an anchor and investigative reporter at KOB in Albuquerque. Axios reports Schwartz says his new show “will spotlight reporting from Noticias Telemundo,” and hopes to “anchor the program” from cities across the American Southwest. “Latinidad is a kaleidoscope of culture and it gives me so much hope that we are finding new ways to reflect that in our programming,” he says. Deadline reports the show is the rare primetime program filmed in Los Angeles. “For a long time, 8 o’clock rolled around and everyone’s like, ‘Oh well, we’re all done,’ and forgot that it is only 5 o’clock on the West Coast,” Schwartz tells Deadline. “This is a chance to reinvigorate the day’s news, and then expand the coverage with a perspective from the west looking east.”

Echoes of New Mexico

The MIT Press Reader magazine, an outgrowth of the university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently published an excerpt from the book Echo, published by MIT Press last year, and written by Amit Pinchevski, a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In “If Walls Could Speak: Echoes as a Link to the Past,” Pinchevski discusses the supernaturality to which “many ancient and indigenous cultures” attributed echoes. The author provides, as an example, an origin myth from Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, as recorded in an 1895 report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In that myth, the tribe finds the place it settles as the result of hearing a favorable sound via an echo (that’s a paraphrase). “This is echolocation in the habitative sense,” Pinchevski writes. “The dwelling place is where the echo resides. The story presents a clear call-and-response interchange with a deity, both present and absent, whose comeback marks the cessation of migration and the foundation of settlement.” The excerpt then provides another example from New Mexico, the amphitheater-shaped cliff in Chaco Culture National Historical Park called Tse’Biinaholts’a Yałti, “Curved Rock That Speaks.” The site, and ones like it, “later became places of worship and ritual,” the author notes, “and in some cases are still today.”

Dry run

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 57 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Cooler temps and chances for precipitation should start tomorrow and continue for the rest of the week.

Thanks for reading! Apropos of absolutely nothing, The Word, a simple lady, wouldn’t mind being in Dublin at a Hall & Oates show.

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