The state House of Representatives on Friday approved on a 37-33 vote a measure creating waiting periods for gun purchases in New Mexico, halving the original 14-day requirement to seven. Approximately 200 gun-regulation opponents then turned out at the Capitol Saturday to protest the measure, one of several gun-reform proposals backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during this session. As of press time, the full Senate was scheduled to consider a Senate version of the bill today (find all of today’s legislative schedules here).
On Saturday, the House passed HB41, Clean Transportation Fuel Standards, which now heads to the Senate. While the Senate has passed similar legislation previously, this was the first time for the House (debate starts at around 1:40 pm or follow via tweets from Conservation Voters of New Mexico). “It’s vital to New Mexico’s future that we take meaningful and pragmatic action to reduce our carbon footprint,” sponsor state Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, said in a statement. “By incentivizing the use of cleaner fuels in high-emission industries like transportation, we can address the impacts of climate change, while also strengthening our economy.”
The House on Saturday also passed HB193, which outlines tenure-based law-enforcement bonuses and HB151, which creates affirmative consent standards at state higher education institutions to prevent sexual assault and harassment. Both bills will now be considered by the full Senate, as will an amended version of Senate Bill 3, the Paid Family & Medical Leave Act, which passed the Senate Finance Committee on Saturday. “We applaud our legislators for recognizing the importance of this initiative and look forward to its continued progress through the legislative process,” Terrelene Massey, executive director of Southwest Women’s Law Center said in a statement about the PFMLA bill.
Lastly, albeit non-chronologically, the full Senate on Friday confirmed former Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer as the new secretary for the New Mexico Aging & Long-Term Services Department. “Today’s senior is not yesterday’s senior,” Schroer said in a statement following the vote. “I look forward to working collaboratively with stakeholders, communities and dedicated professionals to honor the spirit of tradition while modernizing the department to best serve New Mexico.”
City of Santa Fe retains silver bike-friendly status
The League of American Bicyclists on Friday renewed Santa Fe’s “silver” status as a bicycle-friendly city—one of 58 places the organization awarded for their efforts with one platinum, seven gold, 18 silver and 32 bronze awards, plus eight honorable mentions. Of the 66 communities receiving recognition of some sort, nine are brand new to the program, according to a news release. Five New Mexico cities participate in the Bicycle Friendly Community program. Of them, Albuquerque also has silver status, while Las Cruces, Silver City and Los Alamos have bronze. New Mexico State University also has bronze standing as a bicycle-friendly university. The state, according to the League, ranks 35th overall for bike-friendliness. According to a City of Santa Fe news release, its Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee “worked with city staff and community partners to submit a comprehensive application” with data from numerous sources. “This designation demonstrates the City of Santa Fe’s strong commitment to creating a safe and robust cycling infrastructure for our community,” BPAC Chairman and Councilor Michael Garcia says in a statement. Mayor Alan Webber, in a statement, called the silver designation “good,” but “not good enough. We have a long-standing commitment to a complete streets approach to mobility and transportation. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and all kinds of mobility are important for us to reach our sustainability and livability goals. We’re on the right path, but there’s more to be done.”
Second guilty plea entered in political shooting case
A second defendant has pled guilty to participating in a plot to target Democrats in a series of drive-by shootings that made national headlines. US Attorney for the District of New Mexico Alexander M.M. Uballez and Raul Bujanda, special agent in charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office announced Friday that Demetrio Trujillo, 42, pled guilty to conspiracy, two counts of interference with federally protected activities, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and discharging said firearm. Trujillo will remain in custody pending sentencing; he faces up to life in prison followed by five years of supervised release and may be ordered to pay fines not to exceed $1 million. Trujillo and his son, Jose Louise Trujillo helped failed Republican state House candidate Solomon Peña, who paid them to shoot at former candidates’ homes to intimidate them. Jose Louise Trujillo pled guilty last month to conspiracy, interference with federally protected activities, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, discharging said firearm, and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and remains in custody pending sentencing, which is current scheduled for April 8, 2024. He faces up to life in prison. Solomon Peña is currently scheduled to stand trial in June 2024.The case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force.
Fighting for MMIW
The New Yorker magazine delves into the movement surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women, focusing largely on Albuquerque lawyer Darlene Gomez’s mission to help relatives find answers about and justice for their loved ones. That quest began, in part, when Gomez’s childhood friend Melissa Montoya, who grew up in Dulce (Gomez is from nearby Lumberton) went to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day and then disappeared. That was in 2001—she’s never been found. When Gomez’s mother died two years ago, at the age of 92, “She had Alzheimer’s, and one of the last things she kept telling me, in the very last days of her life, was to help find Melissa,” Gomez tells The New Yorker. “That is one of the memories that stayed in her brain.” The story delves into the terrible statistics: As of 2020, Native American women had the second highest rate of homicide in the US, following Black women, and “New Mexico has the highest number of M.M.I.W. cases in the nation,” the magazine notes, with reservations, like other rural areas, “plagued” by “underfunded and under-trained law enforcement, poverty” and addiction, “compounded by the dysfunctions of the American legal system and the legacies of colonialism.” Gomez, who previously served as general counsel for the Jicarilla Apache Nation, has served as a pro-bono family advocate for 20 cases, and also has “developed a reputation for being difficult to deal with,” with some, organizing a protest after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham disbanded the state’s MMIW task force, along with one when Interior Secretary Deb Haaland spoke at the University of New Mexico’s law school. “We have to push,” Gomez says. “It’s constantly pushing and making a scene—I hate to say that, but we have to make a scene.”
Our final week of entries in the inaugural 2024 Morning Word Playlist Project comes from Cincinnati transplant Michael James who is, he writes, “appreciative of the stunning weather and scenery of our new home.”
1. “All I Need is Everything” by Over the Rhine: “A lush haunting voice. the band name is a reference to an area in downtown Cincinnati.”
2. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National: “Another Cincinnati reference, a lament for the past. The drum-line should begin to wake everyone up.”
3. “There There” by Radiohead: “Pulsing drums dread and anxiety.”
4. “Yet Again” by Grizzly Bear: “A bit psychedelic. Perhaps Daniel will see this.”
Regular readers of this newsletter may have noted ongoing coverage for the Modern Elder Academy’s forthcoming Santa Fe campus, announced last fall, with programming slated to begin in April, according to its website. Since then, MEA Founder Chip Conley has been spreading the gospel of the joys of midlife far and wide, with coverage in the last year from the Wall Street Journal, Oprah Daily and the Harvard Business Review (to name just a few). Now, Conley, whose epiphany on a beach in Baja Mexico—where MEA launched in 2018 and still operates—led to his current undertaking, will read from and discuss his new book, Learning to Love Midlife: 12 Reasons Why Life Gets Better With Age, at 6 pm tonight at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St., or watch via Zoom). “Part of the reason I wrote this book was because I wanted to say, ‘hey, there are some things that get better with age,’” Conley tells SFR. “We know the anti-aging industrial complex, which is generally an anti-woman complex…is about making women and other people feel badly about getting older,” but studies have shown we grow happier decade by decade after 40, he says. “Our emotional intelligence grows, our wisdom grows, our desire to have social relationships and value our social relationships grows. We move from the ego to the soul in midlife and beyond.”
A Brit in NM
Geordie Grieg, editor-in-chief for United Kingdom news site The Independent, recommends New Mexico for readers’ “next US trip,” writing the “southwestern state is often overlooked in favour of its more touristy neighbours” (aka Colorado and Arizona), but offers “a wealth of culture, cuisine and adventure.” The story opens “on the banks of the Rio Grande gorge, New Mexico’s most dramatic beauty spot,” where Grieg observes what he says are members of Taos Pueblo selling ancient arrowheads, demonstrating the degree to which “Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque are still the beating heart of the once very Wild West, or to be precise, the Southwest.” Grieg covers plenty of terrain and recommends visitors rent a car and experience the drive between the aforementioned cities, given “Petrol for your car is for anyone from Europe cheeringly cheap. Hot chillis, cold beer, history and fast-moving modern cultural changes collide. Gambling casinos sit alongside warm springs. New Mexico is also a new Hollywood, as Netflix and other film producers make movies here year-round. It is somewhat surreal as cannabis shops vie with vast road posters offering $52m truck collision insurance, as well as adverts for perfect bagels by the Einstein brothers.” Grieg continues in this vein, with similarly encomiums for the region’s food, nature and artistic offerings, albeit solely in the latter case by noting the Georgia O’Keeffe and Millicent Rogers museums in Santa Fe and Taos, respectively. The O’Keeffe museum, Grieg writes, is “one of the most remarkable galleries, enthralling and inspiring,” while the Millicent Rogers Museum “is a less sophisticated and eccentric reminder of powerful women who found sanctuary in this ancient territory.”
Catch the sun
The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny start to the week, with a high temperature near 49 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. More winter weather en route, NWS says, probably starting Tuesday night.