Morning Word

House Passes Tribal Education and Health Care Fund Bills

Three NM properties added to National Register of Historic Places

House passes tribal education and health fund bills

House Bill 134, establishing a trust fund for tribal education, unanimously passed the House yesterday, but an amendment stripped its $100 million appropriation. The initial funding is now $50 million, but sponsor Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, says he remains hopeful the Senate will allocate another $50 million. While the bill had called for a tribally-led task force to develop a formula for disbursing the funds across New Mexico’s 23 tribes, nations and pueblos, the House-adopted version would instead lean on tribal leaders directly creating the formula together, with the Public Education Department serving as a facilitator.

The House yesterday also approved on a 51-14 vote HB7, which sponsors and advocates say will ensure—through stable distributions to the Healthcare Affordability Fund— affordable health insurance plans for tens of thousands of New Mexicans. “Over the past three years, we have made enormous progress,” bill sponsor House Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski, D-Santa Fe, said in a statement. “HB7 will sustain the programs that small businesses and working New Mexicans count on to make their healthcare coverage affordable.” According to sponsors, 6,000 small businesses and their employees have saved $45 million on their health insurance premiums through programs established by the fund, which also led to the highest enrollment ever recorded: 57,000 people are now signed up for coverage through beWellnm.

NM adds three properties to national historic register

Three new historic New Mexico properties have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, the state Department of Cultural Affairs announced yesterday. They include: Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Santa Fe County (currently a retreat center, we believe); the Medical Arts Historic District in Bernalillo County; and Biavaschi Saloon-Capital Bar in Socorro County. “These buildings showcase the broad range of architectural styles on display throughout New Mexico’s history,” State Historic Preservation Officer Jeff Pappas said in a statement. “On the surface, a seminary in Santa Fe might not have much in common with a saloon in Socorro, but they each capture aspects of our state’s rich history.” As described in a news release, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, located off Camino del Monte Sol near Sun Mountain’s base, “epitomizes the evolution of Santa Fe style from its earliest iteration in the early twentieth century through its modern interpretation in the 1960s. The property represents numerous eras in the architectural history of Santa Fe and has contributed to the broader development of the city, and particularly southeast Santa Fe, over the course of the twentieth century. Buildings on the property were designed by prominent New Mexico architects, including Isaac Rapp and John Gaw Meem.”

Digging into land grant schools

Grist magazine takes a sweeping look at the country’s land grant university system, and argues “stolen Indigenous land is the foundation” of the system, and “climate change is its legacy.” The story includes New Mexico State University as one of 14 in the US receiving land grant funds, fueled largely by New Mexico’s oil and gas revenues. “In the last 20 years, oil and gas has generated between 91 and 97% of annual trust land revenue,” Grist reports. “It broke annual all-time highs in half of those years, topping $1 billion for the first time in 2019 and reaching $2.75 billion last year. Adjusted for inflation, more than 20% of New Mexico’s trust land income since 1900 has arrived in just the last five years.” While Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard touts the money funding education through the land grant system, no mention is ever made that “virtually all of the trust land in New Mexico, including 186,000 surface acres and 253,000 subsurface acres now benefiting NMSU, was seized from various Apache bands during the so-called Apache Wars.” The story notes, as environmental groups have repeatedly, incongruity between Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s climate-change agenda and the state’s reliance on oil and gas production.

US Sen. Luján reintroduces child abuse prevention law

US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, yesterday reintroduced the Alternative Pathways to Child Abuse Prevention Act, intended to promote alternative responses to Child Protective Services for families considered low-risk. The legislation also would increase federal funding for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act state formula grants for programs. “Families deserve support—not punishment or separation when they lack basic resources,” Luján said in a statement. “The child welfare system has often resulted in family separation rather than providing support that allows children to safely remain with their parents. The Alternative Pathways to Child Abuse Prevention Act will require alternatives to common child protective services practices to keep kids safe while helping families on a pathway to success with the support of community-based services. This legislation will help ensure that children and families have the opportunity to thrive and promote a much-needed equitable child welfare system.” According to a news release, the American Psychological AssociationNational Child Abuse CoalitionChildren’s Trust Fund Alliance and numerous other organizations endorse the bill. Closer to home, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, says his bill to overhaul the state’s beleaguered Children, Youth & Families Department—via a constitutional amendment removing it from the executive branch and creating an independent oversight commission—”is basically dead at this point.”

Listen up

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2024 Morning Word Playlist Project and helped us survive January with new music and community. We anticipate doing this again. As this daily newsletter writer has about eight hours of airport layovers in her immediate future, look for a master playlist of all the submissions upon her return Feb. 20. We had a few folks who sent incomplete lists missing links and bios and such, but we will include their tracks in the master list.

For now: a quick shout out to local resident Louis Straney, who sent in several cuts—including “Unorganized Crime”—by his LA-based 19-year-old singer/songwriter/arranger granddaughter, Willa Amai, a “frequent visitor to Santa Fe and currently a second year theoretical math major at Harvard.” M. G. Doherty, self-described as a “manic pixie dream vampire from Texas” (and former Santa Fe resident), sent in two great playlists and introduced us to “The Hymn of Acxiom” by Vienna Teng. Doherty writes: “I chose this because it simultaneously sounds worshipful while also being so so menacing (it’s a satiric hymn about an advertising algorithm).”

Our final playlist comes from Caitlin Richards, who writes of it: “These are all songs from my ‘Learning as I Grow’ playlist. From ‘I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,’ to ‘I’m taking control of my life now, right now,’ these songs all have lyrics of growth. This playlist was made on my 60th birthday.” As for her bio: “Still trying to figure it all out, still learning about myself.”

1. “My Back Pages” by Bob Dylan, the live version with Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Roger McGuinn

2. “Ooh La La” by Faces

3. “Two Gunslingers” by Tom Petty

4. “100 Years” by Five for Fighting

5. “Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton

Chacon here and there

The New York Times reviews a show of work by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer and MacArthur Genius Fellow Raven Chacon (Diné), whose ties to New Mexico include growing up in Albuquerque and attending the University of New Mexico, among others. “Raven Chacon: A Worm’s Eve View from a Bird’s Beak,” at the Swiss Institute in New York, “is about as object-filled, object-focused as a sound artist’s survey can get,” critic Holland Cotter writes. “And the show’s selection of 11 other early and current works, stretching over disciplines and encompassing printed scores, video installations, and a mural, gives a sharp sense of what makes this artist’s output so remarkable.” The earliest work included in the show comes from New Mexico, “Field Recordings,” which Chacon recorded, “at different times of day and night, ambient natural sounds at three remote sites on Navajo land in New Mexico. He then amplified the recordings to maximum roaring volume, so that each seems to document not bird calls and breezes but terrestrial eruptions and gale-force winds.” What becomes clear, Cotter writes in his review: “‘empty’ desert landscapes aren’t empty after all. They’re sonic power-places, if we know how to listen.” For a chance to catch Chacon closer to home, Chacon brings Three Songs, three projects paying tribute to Indigenous women through sound, video and visual work, to the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, with an opening reception on Feb.23.

Love is in the air

Outside magazine presents 14 romantic getaways picked by its editors that are “far better than roses or chocolate,” including Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Albuquerque, about which Outside Associate Managing Editor Tasha Zemke writes: “If a 25-acre lavender farm with wandering llamas, artisanal purple gin cocktails, and beautiful gardens and courtyards that the affianced dream of booking for their weddings doesn’t appeal to your romantic sensibilities, this place will change your mind.” The OG Ojo Caliente Spa also makes the list with a recommendation and romantic story from Outside Articles Editor Fred Dreier. The New Mexico–Colorado Borderlands appear as well since, according to Outside Senior Editor Abigail Barronian, fly-fishing can be romantic. Also on the love tip, Forbes magazine includes Santa Fe-based jeweler, stone setter and hand-engraver’s Blue Blue Driver hand-engraved floral pendants or rings in its compendium of last-minute jewels for Valentine’s Day procrastinators. (Forbes also had a study on love and dating last month that ranked New Mexico among the slowest states for people to say “I love you.”) Open Table published its top 100 romantic restaurants in the US, with only Geronimo making the list in New Mexico (Geronimo had one reservation left for Feb. 14 when we checked last night. May the odds be in your favor). Vice magazine’s story “17 Getaway Ideas for a Weird, Wonderful, Non-Traditional Romantic Vacation” includes a converted bunker in Roswell, which was free for Feb. 14 when we last checked. For less abject ideas, don’t miss New Mexico Magazine’s suggestions, along with a few local ones from The Fork.

Winter’s tedious nights

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 41 degrees and southwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Saturday’s forecast includes a 70% chance for precipitation during the day, with snow showers likely and new snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible. The day will be otherwise mostly cloudy, with a high temperature near 39 degrees and a 50% chance for a mix of snow and rain overnight. Partly sunny again on Sunday, with high temperatures near 40 degrees.

Thanks for reading! Writer Rebecca Solnit says she spent time in New Mexico last summer and when people here heard she lived in San Francisco “they were aghast: they wanted to know how I was surviving the mayhem.” The Word enjoyed reading Solnit’s incisive essay “In the Shadow of Silicon Valley” in the most recent edition of The London Review of Books.

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