In episode 77 we dive into the state's special legislative session that started today. The primary reason for the emergency meeting is to address the unexpected budget shortfall brought on by COVID-19 and the decimation of oil and gas markets that provide much of New Mexico's public funding. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, however, has asked legislators to also consider other reforms like making adjustments now to state election rules and policing procedures rather than waiting for the regular legislative session next January. It's a full schedule for a session that is only supposed to last a few days. Today we'll hear from journalists, a State Representative, and the Albuquerque Mayor about what they expect from the emergency legislative session.
Matt Grubs, New Mexico PBS producer, expects action in the Roundhouse this week. He says the state will have a budget shortfall around 25% under what was allocated by the Legislature in January and it's likely that teachers and other state employees will help make it up by not getting the full raises they were promised.
Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas points out that the right to openly carry or conceal firearms is not a constitutional right. He says that militiamen carrying rifles and the shooter with a concealed pistol escalated the confrontation near the Albuquerque Museum where a protester was shot on June 15. Maestas hopes criminal justice reforms are addressed soon.
Gwyneth Doland from New Mexico PBS tells us that legislators could trim the state budget by "sanding" small cuts from many budget items instead of cutting particular expenses drastically.
And now some news:
The Navajo Nation is reinstating weekend curfews through June to protect residents due to a surge in infections in areas surrounding the reservation, especially in Arizona. AZ Central reports that state saw its largest daily case number today with 2,519 new infections, and the number of hospitalizations hit a new high yesterday. Meanwhile, the Navajo Times reported Tuesday the Nation itself had seen its lowest daily case increase since March.
There were 94 new cases in New Mexico as of Thursday, state officials say. The number of confirmed cases in the state is now 10,153. There were four more deaths, bringing the death toll to 456.
The state issued a smoke advisory for the Rio Grande Valley from Taos to Las Cruces from 9 tonight through noon tomorrow, coming from wildfires burning in Arizona and southwest New Mexico. Smoke from fires may cause people infected with COVID-19 to have more severe reactions.
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