Morning Word

NM Gov Signs “Landmark” Health Care Bills

AG Torrez pushes Meta for docs in child safety suit

Gov signs healthcare bills

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday, during a ceremony at Sierra Vista Hospital in Truth or Consequences, signed House Bill 7, the Healthcare Affordability Fund, which maintains a 55% premium surtax distribution to the fund to ensure its viability and reduce insurance costs for small businesses, employees and low- to moderate-income individuals through beWellnm, the the state’s health insurance exchange program. Members of New Mexico Together for Healthcare lauded the bill’s enactment. “For many years I have seen and experienced what it is to live without health insurance,” Cecilia Piñon, a community organizer with Strong Families New Mexico, said in a statement. “My father died working as a farm worker and never was able to have health insurance. Support for the Healthcare Affordability Fund will allow New Mexico to continue its path toward health coverage for everyone.” Lujan Grisham also signed Senate Bill 14, which puts the finishing touches on the state’s Health Care Authority, a new agency merging several other agencies—such as the state Human Services Department—to unify services and purchasing power (Health Secretary Patrick Allen spoke with SFR upon his arrival in the state last year about the benefits of such a system). SB17, the Health Care Delivery and Access Act, establishes a Medicaid Directed Payment Program to support access to care in rural New Mexico. The governor also signed HB33, the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act; HB165, Pharmacy Provider Reimbursement; and SB135, Step Therapy Guidelines. “Delivering quality healthcare to New Mexico’s population requires a tailored approach that takes into account rural communities, New Mexicans benefiting from Medicaid, and the tens of thousands of public employees in our state,” the governor said in a statement. “These are bills that are going to positively impact a vast swath of New Mexicans.”

SFPS names new SFHS principal

Jaime Chavez will serve as principal of Santa Fe High School starting with the 2024-25 school year, Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez announced on Friday. She will continue as the school’s assistant principal through May, a role she’s held for two years, working with interim principal Jack Lain, who will finish out the school year. “In her two years at the school, she has strived to establish a positive rapport with all stakeholders, further students’ academic, emotional and mental health needs and provide strong instructional leadership,” Superintendent Chavez said in a statement regarding Jaime Chavez. “Her knowledge of the school’s community, passion and experience will provide continued dynamic leadership of Santa Fe High.” Chavez has 24 years of educational experience, which includes time as a 4th through 12th-grade teacher; experience as an English as a Second Language teacher; and as a school counselor. She holds an educational leadership certification from New Mexico Highlands University; a master of arts degree in guidance and counseling, with a concentration in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling; and a bachelor of arts in education, with a minor in bilingual education. “I am honored to be entrusted and given the opportunity to take on the role of directing principal of Santa Fe High School,” Chavez says in a statement. “Although it has been a short time, I have grown to appreciate, respect and admire our dedicated staff, our wonderful students and their parents/guardians, our diverse community and our committed district and its leadership team.”

Injured Rust director describes moment of shooting

In the moments after a gun fired Oct. 21, 2021 on the Rust film set, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, director Joel Souza heard a “a loud pop,” which he described to jurors on Friday as “deafening.” Immediately after the noise, he said he felt as if someone “had taken a baseball bat” to his shoulder. “I remember stumbling back, and I fell to my knees…and I distinctly remember Halyna being lowered to the ground, and I still didn’t quite know what had happened,” Souza testified. “Nothing made sense. I remember initially thinking she had been startled by it, but then I saw the blood on her back.” The trial for former armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who faces involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering charges in association with Hutchins’ death, continues this week. Alec Baldwin, who held the .45-caliber Colt that fired but has said he did not pull the trigger, also faces involuntary manslaughter charges; his trial begins in July. The shot also wounded Souza, but no charges were filed because, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told SFR last year, New Mexico statutes on aggravated battery with a deadly weapon require intent, and were thus inapplicable. Several other Rust crew members testified Friday, including Cherlyn Schaefer, who worked as an EMT on the set and has a pending civil suit against Gutierrez-Reed and others as a result of the fatal shooting. She filed suit, she said, to help prevent a situation like this from occurring again. “Being the only medic there for two people and knowing my resources were not close enough to help in any significant way is what I wanted to change,” she said.

AG pushes Meta for more intel in child-safety lawsuit

Following an extremely disturbing New York Times story about “girl influencers” on Meta and the men who stalk them, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez, who is already suing Meta over threats his agency alleges occur on the site for children, is pushing the company for more information on its subscription services. New Mexico Department of Justice Communications Director Lauren Rodriguez confirms to SFR via email that “late last week the New Mexico DOJ requested that Meta and Mark Zuckerberg produce additional documents based on recent reporting from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times about how Meta’s subscription tools put children’s safety at risk.” Torrez says he found the Times’ reporting “deeply disturbing” and subsequently “sent Meta a new request for documents based on the alarming findings.” In a statement, Torrez says: “Meta knew about these accounts and allowed them to offer subscriptions to predators. This deeply disturbing pattern of conduct puts children at risk—and persists despite a wave of lawsuits and Congressional investigations. We will seek to hold Meta and Mr. Zuckerberg accountable to the fullest extent of the law and urge Congress to take action to eliminate any safe harbor for this activity.”

Listen up

The Key Change podcast, produced by Opera for All Voices and the Santa Fe Opera, returns for its fifth season, and opens with an episode perfect for newbies and diehards alike. Co-hosts Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia “dust off the time machine for a whirlwind tour of seasons past,” and discuss the OFAV mission of “co-commissioning and co-producing new, diverse operatic works,” while revisiting some of those works so far. Listeners will also learn about forthcoming productions.

NEA honors Indigenous NM artists

This year’s National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows, described in a news release as the “nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts” hail from New Mexico. The fellowship, established in 1982, includes a $25,000 award, with recipients honored in Washington, DC in the fall. “Through their dedication to and generous stewardship of their traditions and cultures, these artists and culture bearers carry forward their knowledge and passion to future generations,” NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson says in a statement. Multi-dimensional artist and quilter Susan Hudson (Navajo/Diné) , from Silver Springs, learned to sew at the age of 9 from her mother Dorothy Woods, who, like her grandmothers, was forced to learn while at Indian boarding school. According to her NEA biography, Hudson’s “quilting became an income stream when she began making Star Quilts for Indian pow wows and giveaways at the request of Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a former US senator from Colorado. Sen. Campbell encouraged her to break away from making traditional star quilts and she soon developed her own artistic voice with contemporary ledger art quilts.” Hudson is a co-founder of the Navajo Quilt Project, which donates fabric to elders across the Navajo Nation; her own quilts have been been acquired for collection by the International Quilt Museum, Heard Museum, Autry Western Museum, Riverside Museum, to name a few. The NEA also named the Zuni Olla Maidens, traditional Zuni singers and dancers, among this year’s fellows. The group has consisted of related women for more than 70 years, who perform a trademarked dance balancing pottery on their heads. The group’s lineage as a female family group is intrinsic to its identity, according to one of its leaders Juanita Edaakie, who says in a statement: “We pay homage to our ancestral women who centuries ago used to get water from nearby and carry them in these great big jars called ollas. Olla is the Spanish word for pot. And we know it wasn’t an easy job.”

Drive? No. Drink? Sure.

Forbes magazine turns its eye to Santa Fe on several fronts, the first being its inclusion on a list of “nine awesome trips you can take without driving. Kind of. The downtown Plaza, Forbes notes, puts many attractions—the Palace of the Governors and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, for instance—within walking distance. A drive will be required to visit Meow Wolf, of course, the story notes. As for actually getting to Santa Fe, Forbes recommends the Rail Runner from Albuquerque—though does not mention one will need to find intra-spatial transport as the Rail Runner can’t be accessed from the Albuquerque International Airport. Once here, Forbes contributor Lauren Mowery recommends a visit to or stay at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi due to its expansive wine and spirits collection. Having one of the state’s best spots for booze is no small feat, Mowery writes because “Santa Fe is a drinking town” (good thing we’re also a good place to visit without a car, then). What makes the Anasazi so distinctive, she adds, is “the city itself, which harbors strong ties to its Mexican heritage, notably Oaxaca and Jalisco” and by extension, the hotel’s connection to tequila and mezcal, not to mention the “ownership’s penchant for fine and rare wines.” Speaking of which, one of the hotel’s most expensive wines, a Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Coche Dury 2015, runs $10,500. Cheers.

Fair weather, friends

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 50 degrees and west wind 10 to 15 mph. Don’t pack up those sweaters yet: Chances are slight, but winter weather could return at the end of the week.

Thanks for reading! Though The Word rarely, if ever, watches home-improvement television shows, she greatly enjoyed reading the recent Paris Review story about the reality show Fixer Upper: The Hotel and its use of the late Larry McMurtry’s library.

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