2023 NM Legislative Update: Legislature Enacts Historic $9.57 Billion Budget With Politcal Drama And Sour Grapes Thrown In For Good Measure; Largest In State History; Goes To Governor For Signature And Possible Line Item Vetoes

With only two full days remaining in the 2023 New Mexico legislative session, the New Mexico House a Representatives, on a voice vote,  passed House Bill 2 and sent the $9.6 billion budget to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. It is the largest budget enacted in state history as a direct result of $3.6 Billion in additional revenue from oil and gas production.  Ongoing spending contained in the bill have been increased by 13.7% or about $1.2 billion over current levels.

The House vote was a concurrence with the Senate’s amendments to House Bill 2.  The Senate amendments include an additional $130 million in recurring spending for initiatives to address hunger and new investments in the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship college tuition fund. The Senate  amendments authorized more spending than the House but the budget still has 30% in reserves projected.  House Bill 2 contains funding for 6% raise for state employees and educators, sharp increases in prekindergarten and child care assistance, higher Medicaid reimbursement rates intended to better compensate doctors and appropriates $100 million in one-time funding for a law enforcement officer recruitment fund.


The passage of House Bill 2 did come with drama.  The size of the budget was condemned and accusations of lack of transparency and behind closed doors shenanigans were made.

During the House debate, accusations were made about the way the Senate Finance Committee amended the budget and added more funding just a day after the committee had already approved the bill. The additional Senate amendment annoyed Republican senators on the committee  and those Republicans  raised questions about “behind-the-scenes deals”  and political pressure for changes that may have come from the Governor’s Office.

Artesia Republican Representative Jim Townsend and other  House Republicans expressed concern about the 14% increase in spending saying it is “troublesome” in a state where so much revenue comes from the boom-or-bust oil and gas industry. Townsend said this:

“I don’t think we can sustain it.”

Gallup Democrat Patty Lundstrom, D-Gallup,  long serving  the chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee before House Speaker Javier Martínez removed her at the beginning of the session,  asked  whether the Senate’s amendments were proper and admonished the Senate Committee.  Lundstrom urge the House to reject the Senate amendment and said this during debate on the house floor:

“We talk about transparency and we talk about how everybody has to see everything … that is not my impression of what happened in the other chamber.  I think it was not handled properly. … I hope the House stands its ground and doesn’t roll over for the other side. … I talked to different members on the Senate Finance Committee who said that [when] the [budget] bill rolled out, they didn’t know what was in it because of closet negotiations happening without their input. …   We may not be sure [what] shenanigans happened. …  I’m concerned when a group tries to pull the wool over the eyes of its own committee.”

Las Cruces Democrat Representative Nathan Small, who succeeded Lundstrom as Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations committee said he was comfortable with the Senate changes. Small said this:

“We are investing in education. We are investing in infrastructure. We are making the largest investment in public safety, and we are saving more money than we have ever saved before. … [The budget] leaves a reserve fund of roughly 30%. [I am keeping a] cautious eye on oil and gas revenues.”


It was on Sunday, March 13, that the Senate voted to approve House Bill 2 and the $9.6 billion budget, but it did so with amendments which required the bill to go back to the House to consider the budget as amended by the Senate.  The full Senate voted 25-16, with all Democrats except Tohatchi  Senator Shannon Pinto voting in favor and all Senate Republicans voted against the bill.

The Senate Finance Committee had approved revisions to  the budget House Bill 2  on Saturday  March 11, but the committee voted to bring back the spending plan  for additional amendments before it advanced to a full senate chamber vote later in the day. One particular budget line-item that drew strong objections was $2 million for the Department of Game and Fish to protect threatened species.  The appropriation was deleted  in  the  previous version of the budget bill and it  was restored.

Many of the budget bill changes adopted by the Senate were in response to concerns raised by the Governor’s Office after the House passed its version of House Bill 2. The areas of disagreement include proper funding levels for the Opportunity Scholarship, a tuition-free college program championed by Lujan Grisham, and child care assistance programs. The final changes also included revised budget language for how roughly $250 million should be spent to extend New Mexico’s annual public-school calendar.

Democrats and Republicans voiced frustration about the last-minute changes to the spending plan.  Some lawmakers defended the  revisions and said they were necessary to ensure a budget bill that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham would  sign. Gallup area Senator George Muñoz, the Senate Finance Committee’s chairman, said he tried to be transparent in his handling of House Bill 2 after it passed the House last month, but acknowledged difficulty in modernizing a system that has long been shrouded in secrecy.

The last-minute Senate amendments drew sharp accusations from Republican  senators who suggested the Governor’s Office and some top lawmakers had conspired on the changes. Broadview Republican Senator Pat Woods said this during the committee hearing:

“We shouldn’t be putting the stuff in here without running it through the process, letting every legislator in the House vote for it, before we just stick it in the dadgum budget as a personal piggy-bank.”

Senate Minority Whip Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, said this on the Senate floor:

“There’s a lot of us that still don’t have any idea what’s going on with the budget.”

Some Republican senators suggested the last-minute changes represented an end-run of sorts around this year’s budget-drafting efforts. Elephant Butte Republican Senator  Crystal Diamond, said during Sunday’s debate:

“It’s just unfortunate that our values and our priorities got undermined.”

The links to news sources quoted are here:








Talk about cutting it close and with politcal drama and a few sour grapes from both Democrats and Republicans thrown in for good measure.  The legislative process has always been very messy and the legislature delaying as long as it did enacting the 2023 budget did not help in the least, but that’s New Mexico politics.

The 60 day session ends on March 18 at 12 noon. The Governor has until April 7 to act on the budget and she has the power of line-item veto where she can review specific appropriations and line item.

Just two years ago, the Governor line item veto a number of capital improvement appropriations sponsored by individual legislators and all hell broke loose with threaten overrides by the legislature. To quell the controversy, a special session was held to deal with the capital improvements budget.

The Governor would be wise to talk to more than a few legislator’s before she excercise her line item veto authority.

2023 New Mexico Legislative Update: Bi Partisan Compromise Reached In Medical Malpractice Payout Claims; Governor Plays Critical Role In Negotiations

One of the most contentious and very emotional issues this year in the 2023 New Mexico legislature has been medical malpractice claims and the need to place reasonable caps on such claims. At the very core of the issue is the 2021 rewrite of the medical malpractice law.  The rewrite made it impossible for New Mexico licensed doctors to secure and afford medical malpractice insurance with a $5 million cap when they practiced in independent outpatient clinics.  Independent outpatient clinics were faced with the crisis of being unable to obtain the medical insurance they needed to continue operating.

The proposed changes to the medical malpractice law centers on medical clinics that are not owned by hospitals. Surgical centers and urgent care clinics independently owned by physicians were included with larger hospital insurance coverage requirements.  The potential closure of independent clinics loomed large because of the medical malpractice insurance coverage requirements.  Much smaller, independent medical clinics are a critical part of New Mexico’s health care system network, especially in rural New Mexico.

Some standalone emergency rooms, urgent care centers and surgical clinics with maximum malpractice payouts with an insurance coverage cap set at $750,000 would have seen  the  cap rise to $6 million by 2027 under the 2021 law rewrite  that included them in the same category as hospitals.   Urgent care centers and surgical clinics argued they will be unable to afford or even obtain malpractice insurance with a cap that high. Proposals backed by the doctors were rejected by Democratic lawmakers in both legislative chambers earlier this session.

Patient advocates challenged the  claims made by clinics and physicians and argued patients who face lifelong effects of medical procedures gone wrong deserve fair compensation. Patients and their advocates testified against  measures reducing the cap early in the session, describing heartbreaking stories of injury and death caused by medical mistakes.

Under Senate Bill 523, introduced in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee on March 14, those small, independent medical practices would see a permanent payout cap of $1 million starting in 2024.  The threat of medical malpractice claims and mandated insurance threatened to reduce  even further the State’s shortage of doctors. The state is facing a major  shortage of medical providers with the number of physicians in New Mexico falling 30% between 2017 and 2021 according to one story.


On March 14, a mere 4 days before the end of the 2023 New Mexico legislative session, Governor  Michelle Lujan Grisham  announced that a bipartisan  agreement had been reached aimed at ensuring independent outpatient clinics will be able to obtain the medical malpractice  insurance they need to continue operating in 2024.  The governor announced the new legislation during a morning news conference at the Capitol, where she was flanked by Democrat  Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and  Republican Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Belen.  The compromise is that independent clinics’ financial exposure to legal claims will increase from $750,000 next year as planned but with a $1 million cap on damages rather than the $5 million limit that had been set to take effect.

Under Senate Bill 523, a patient who files a medical malpractice claim against an independent clinic could recover up to $1 million, but the patient compensation fund, not the independent clinic, would cover the portion of the damages between $500,000 and $1 million. The $1 million cap would be adjusted for inflation, starting in 2025.  Senate Bill 523  also includes provisions excluding federal health care facilities from New Mexico’s medical malpractice law and they will not  be subject to the caps on damages. The bill also requires public tracking of claims and settlements involving outpatient clinics. The compromise is supported by the trial lawyers association and an array of groups representing doctors, hospitals and nurse practitioners.

In announcing the compromise, Governor Lujan Grisham said it was clear that under the  2021 rewrite of the medical malpractice law that small  independent outpatient the clinics could not  obtain full legal insurance with the $5 million cap but could with the $1 million compromised cap.  According to the Governor insurance companies, whom she reached out to, have confirmed they can provide coverage under the proposed changes to the law.  The compromise is  intended to strike a balance that ensures doctors can continue to practice in independent clinics and patients can obtain justice in court for medical errors.

The negotiated compromise agreement in contained in Senate Bill 523. What is impressive  is that it is jointly sponsored by the Democratic and Republican leaders in both legislative chambers which should ensure quick passage in both chambers.  The governor said Democratic and Republican leaders in the House backed the bill and had signed onto it as sponsors.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, and Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Belen, both trial attorneys, helped produce Senate Bill 523  by overseeing last-minute talks between a physicians’ group and trial lawyers representing patients. Both Senators acknowledged that the governor helped “close the deal”.

Wirth was first approached by patient attorneys last year, he said, adding they wanted help finding common ground with medical providers.

Baca said doctors and other health care professionals had contacted him last year with concerns about the higher malpractice caps.

Senator Wirth  said  he was first approached by patient attorneys last year who said  they wanted his help finding common ground with medical providers.  The negotiations produced a bill the lawyers and doctors say they can live with.  He said the comprise they agreed is far more preferable than having lawmakers force an agreement upon them. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said this:

“This is the kind of issue that really needed to be resolved by the parties. … [If the bill becomes law]  it will create stability for current providers and it creates more certainty for new outpatient facilities looking to open up in New Mexico.”

Sanator Baca said doctors and other health care professionals had contacted him last year with concerns about the higher malpractice caps. Senator Baca for his part said this about the compromise:

“We’ve come to a compromise here that is going to be workable and functional for a long time.”

The link to a quoted news sources are here:




March 14, New Mexico Political Report “Governor announces compromise-measure on medical malpractice payouts”   https://nmpoliticalreport.com/


On March 14, Senate Bill 523  won unanimous endorsement from the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee. It will now be presented to the full Senate on Wednesday  March 15 and once passed it will  advance to the House.  Once it passes  the Senate,  the legislation will  have to clear at least one committee in the House of Representatives before hitting the House floor before noon Saturday, when the session ends. The passage of Senate Bill 523 will be one of the most consequential pieces of legislation enacted during the session and the House needs to act swiftly.




2023 NM Legislative Update: Senate Passed Family Medical Leave Act Killed In NM House Committee; Voting Bill Rights Act Passes Both House And Senate; Goes To Governor For Signature; Time Has Run Out On Major Legislation Stuck In Committees With 4 Days Left In Session

2023 NM Legislative Update: Senate Passed Family Medical Leave Act Killed In NM House Committee; Voting Bill Rights Act Passes Both House And Senate; Goes To Governor For Signature; Time Has Run Out On Major Legislation Stuck In Committees With 4 Days Left In Session

On March 13, and with a mere 5 days left in the 2023 legislative session, two major bills met their final fate in the New Mexico House of Representatives.  The bill killed in committee  was the  Paid Family and Medical Leave Act family and the bill passed by the full House was the Voting Rights Act.


On March 13, the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee voted 6-5  to table Senate Bill 11 known as the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.  Senate Bill 11 had already passed the Senate.

Senate passage of  the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act  resulted in a strong, organized onslaught of opposition from business owners and organizations and was fiercely  opposed by  Republican legislators who described it as a tax on both workers and employers alike.  Several days of negotiations between bill supporters and skeptics failed to produce a compromise both sides could accept.

The House Committee vote blocks the bill from advancing any further in the House thereby effectively killing it.


Senate Bill 11  was written  by a task force featuring advocacy groups, business owners and labor union representatives that met last summer and issued a final report in October.

The program if enacted would have provided up to 12 weeks of paid time off for an employee who has a new child,  is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking or has a serious medical illness or to care for a family member with a serious medical illness.  The Department of Workforce Solutions would have administered the program. Employees would pay $5 for every $1,000 of income and employers with 5 or more employees would pay $4 for every $1,000 of income into a fund. Businesses with fewer than five employees would be exempted.  About two-thirds of the state’s roughly 44,000 businesses with more than one employee would not have to pay into the fund, though their employees would be required to do so.   Starting in 2026 the fund be used to compensate employees who qualify for the paid leave.

The formula to be paid the benefits would have been 100% of minimum wage plus 67% of wages above minimum wage. Only minimum wage earners would earn their entire pay during the paid leave. The employee requesting time off would have to show documentation to establish the request for the leave and the Secretary of Workforce Solutions can impose fines on anyone who tries to commit fraudulent claims. $36.5 million in nonrecurring funds from the general fund over the next 2 years would have been provided.  Once the program was  up and running by January 1, 2026, it  would begin paying back the state the money and it was  expected to take a full 6 years.


Opponents of Senate Bill 11 said  it was too broad and too burdensome  on small  business and questioned  whether a state fund that would be created to make leave payments could end up facing insolvency in future years.

Sponsors and supporters of Senate Bill 11 did attempt to rescue it from defeat by meeting with opponents and agreeing  to several changes before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee met.   The concessions included clarifying that paid leave would be calculated over a rolling 12-month period and not a calendar year and limiting the size of annual adjustments for employer contributions into the fund.  Bill sponsors rejected the far-reaching changes of allowing businesses to opt in to the paid leave program.

The concessions did not satisfy opposition concerns.  Republican Rio Rancho Representative Joshua Hernandez  said during the committee hearing:

“This is just not enough to make this [bill] palatable.”

Representative Hernandez and other opponents argued the bill would be another body blow for employers, after the COVID-19 pandemic, a paid sick leave mandate on private employers that the legislature enacted last year and now in effect and the increase to the state’s $12 per hour minimum wage.


What came as a surprise to some was that 2 Democrats joined the 4 Republicans on the committee to vote to table the measure

Albuquerque North East Heights  area Democrat Representative Marian Matthews said she received phone calls from hundreds of people about the bill. It was Matthews  who cast the deciding vote to table the measure after meeting with bill sponsors over the last several days. Mathews  said this:

“This was a one-size-fits all approach. … It didn’t feel right for New Mexico.”

The other Democrat who join with the 4 Republicans to table the measure Gallup Representative Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, who said of the bill:

“It’s not ready for prime time.”


Santa Fe Democrat Representative Linda Serrato said after the vote:

“It deserves to be voted on. … My goal is that this coalition keeps growing and growing.”

Allen Sánchez, president St. Joseph’s Children Hospital, which operates  the states largest home-visiting program said sees first hand the need for paid family medical leave. Sánchez sad this after the vote:

“We have recently heard legislators talk about protecting women of color [but] the tabling of [Senate Bill 11] lets down women and infants. … We assure you, we’ll be back [next year].”


Last year during the 2022 legislative session, a short 30  day session, the Voting Rights Bill failed in the Senate after passage in the House despite endorsement from Governor Michell  Lujan Grisham, Secretary of State  Maggie Talouse Oliver and Democratic leadership.  It was  Republican Senator William Sharer, R-Farmington, who effectively killed the measure last year with a filibuster on the Senate floor.

This year,  New Mexico House voted 42 to 25 to enact House Bill 4, the Voting Rights Act and  to concur with the Senate’s amendments to the bill.  The voting Rights  bill is now forwarded  to the to  Gover Michelle Lujan Grisham where she expected to sign it.

The enacted Voting Rights Act  does  the following:

Phases  in a system of automatic voter registration, such as during MVD  transactions, for citizens who are qualified to vote but aren’t registered and provided enhancements to voter registration systems and voter data privacy.

Creates a permanent absentee voter list. Voters will have the option of opting in to receive ballots by mail before every election rather than  having to apply each time.

Provides for automatic restoration of voting rights for inmates exiting prison. Under the current system, they must complete probation or parole before registering to vote again. There are 21 states that automatically restore voting rights after incarceration. Another 16, including  New Mexico, require someone convicted of a felony to complete their entire sentence, including probation and parole, before registering to vote.

 Establishes  a Native American Voting Rights Act intended to better coordinate access to the polls on tribal land and allow the use of tribal buildings as a voter-registration address for people without a traditional  address.

 Calls  for election day as a school holiday.

The  House also passed Senate Bill 43 a bill to protect election workers with broad partisan support which would make intimidation of election officials and workers a fourth-degree felony, is also headed to the governor’s desk.

The link to the quoted news source is here



The 60-day legislative session ends March 18. Democrats in the 2023 legislative session hold a 45-25 majority in the House and a 27-15 in the Senate. Given the fact that there is a mere 4 days left in the 2023 legislative session, time has  run  out on passage of other significant legislation, especially all the gun control measures,  as  legislators  are now forced to move more aggressively to complete their work. Expect Republicans to rely on the filibuster in the last few days to kill Democrat initiatives remaining to run out the clock and the Democrats have only themselves to blame given their majorities in both chambers.

Links to related news coverage are here:

Committee tables Paid Family and Medical Leave bill, likely ending bill’s hopes this year

Voting rights expansion bill heads to governor’s desk

Mayor Tim Keller Administration Violates NM Anti Donation Clause; Spends  $240,000 To Buy  Artificial Turf  For Privately Owned Gladiators Football Team; Turf  Installed At Rio Rancho City Events Center; High School Jock Mayor Tim Keller Does Nothing

On March 10, the City of Albuquerque Office of Inspector General released an investigation report that found that the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation and the Mayor Keller Administration spent $236,622 to purchase artificial turf  for the Rio Rancho Events Center. The purchase was for the benefit of the privately owned New Mexico Gladiators to play their home football games.

The Inspector General found that the purchase of the artificial turf “appears to be a donation/ gift” to benefit the privately owned Gladiators and found that the team’s logo with colors is emblazoned on the field reflecting ownership.  The Inspector General noted in no uncertain terms that the New Mexico Department of Finance (DFA) found the purchase of the turf violates the  New Mexico Constitution clause commonly referred to as the “anti donation clause” which strictly bars public government entities from donating to private corporations.

The executive summary of the Inspector General report states as follows:

On December 7, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) received an allegation that the City’s Parks and Recreation Department (P&R) violated the NM Anti-Donation Clause through the purchase and installation of indoor stadium turf for the Duke City Gladiators (DCG) resulting in a misuse of taxpayers’ dollars. The OIG determined that the allegations contained elements of potential fraud, waste, or abuse and that it was appropriate for the OIG to conduct a fact-finding investigation. The purpose of the investigation was to determine if a violation of Article IX, Section 14 of the New Mexico Constitution occurred concerning the purchase and installation of stadium turf for the Duke City Gladiators.

As a result of the investigation, the OIG was able to substantiate the allegation that the City’s Parks and Recreation Department violated the NM Anti-Donation Clause through the purchase and installation of indoor stadium turf for the Duke City Gladiators resulting in a misuse of taxpayers’ dollars. In part, this allegation was able to be substantiated based on a statement in a letter from the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (NM DFA), whereby, NM DFA’s legal counsel determined that the use of the funds would violate the terms of the appropriation and that if the City were to use the funds in the proposed manner it would also violate the New Mexico Anti-Donation Clause, N.M. Const, art. 9, § 14.

It has been reported that the Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing the Inspector General’s report.

The link to review the entire Inspector General report is here:



The report in detail describes as a “rushed” acquisition process to buy the artificial turf.  The report states that documentation reviewed by investigators shows that there were numerous City of Albuquerque employees involved in the turf purchase including at least one city attorney and the turf vendor.   The report states all knew the field turf was being purchased for use by the Gladiators in Rio Rancho. There is no mention of any City of Albuquerque employee questioning or attempting to stop the purchase

One of the most revealing interviews conducted by the Inspector General was that of an employee with the Parks and Recreation Department involved in the procurement process for the artificial turf.  The city employee said that management made it clear there was an urgency to procure the artificial turf quickly and the employee felt “absolute pressure”. The employee said that upper management “wanted this done yesterday” and indicated that there was a “big push to make it happen”.  The city employee stated that City attorneys, procurement personnel, and upper management said to “make it happen”. The employee told the Inspector General  feeling  “queasy” knowing the artificial turf  was to be installed in Rio Rancho.


A very serious finding in the Inspector General’s report was that Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Director Dave Simon provided incorrect information to the Albuquerque City Council at the January 8 meeting of the City Council. City Hall observers say it was lying.  Multiple city councilors were aware of the purchase likely because of a November, 2022 Channel 13 Larry Barker investigation report.  At the January 8, 2023 city council meeting,  councilors questioned why the City of Albuquerque would pay for artificial turf with city of Albuquerque funds and then turn around and  install it a City of Rio Rancho facility.

Simon told the city council the City of Albuquerque had contributed $74,000 to the turf purchase while the State of New Mexico contributed the $162,622 remaining balance.  The Inspector General found Simon’s representation was not true and cited records showing the city paid the entire sum and was never was reimbursed by the state for any amount.

In the 2022 legislative session, state lawmakers appropriated  $160,000 for artificial  turf playing fields at park and recreational facilities in Albuquerque. Financial documents reviewed reflect the city paid for the turf and its installation in April 2022 and prior to the City receiving the state money for its own use.


Article IX, Section 14 of the  New Mexico Constitution provides in part as follows:

“Neither the state or any county, school district, or municipality, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation … .”

The single most damaging finding in the Inspector General report involved the City of Albuquerque asking for state reimbursement of the funding for the purchase and the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) denying the request.  State finance officials ruled the appropriation was not legal because public money cannot be used for the benefit of a private business as per the anti-donation clause contained in the New Mexico Constitution. The DFA told the City of Albuquerque its use of the funding violated the terms of the New Mexico legislature’s appropriation to the City of Albuquerque.

The DFA told city officials, including the city attorney that if the city used the funds for the artificial  turf purchased in the manner stated  it would  violate the state’s Anti-Donation Clause. For that reason, the city’s Inspector General found it violated the state’s anti-donation clause and was a misuse of taxpayer dollars.  The Inspector General also found that the City of Albuquerque used voter approved bond money allocated for City of Albuquerque  parks and recreation facilities.  The Inspector General   concluded officials failed to make sure the purchase was cost-effective and benefited the citizens of Albuquerque.  A Parks and Recreation Department employee also told investigators there was pressure from high up in the Keller Administration to push the purchase through.


Mayor Tim Keller’s administration, the City Attorney Office, the City’s  Parks and Recreation Department  and the Gladiators’ owner disagree with the Inspector General report. According to City of Albuquerque officials, the city retains ownership of the artificial turf which also has the Keller Administration publicity logo “One Albuquerque”  on it.

City Attorney Alan Heinz wrote in a letter in response to the OIG report that City of Albuquerque  is  merely allowing the Gladiators and Global Spectrum,  the private company that operates the Rio Rancho Events Center,  to temporary use the artificial turf in Rio Rancho in exchange for “valuable consideration.” managing

The “valuable consideration” is outlined in the City of Albuquerque’s agreement with Global Spectrum and the Gladiators  and requires the team  to host and staff 14 youth events per year and for the team to provide the city 50 free tickets to each home game. The Inspector General’s investigation raised serious doubts  about whether Global Spectrum and the Gladiators were meeting those terms.

According to the Inspector General report a city employee who was supposed to know about the youth events said none were scheduled from April 2021 to January 2023  and multiple city staffers somehow involved in the turf purchase said they had never personally seen the free tickets.

Franchesca E. Perdue, a city spokeswoman with Department of Finance, said the city’s purchase of the artificial turf was done properly and said this in a statement:

“The cursory OIG report was misinformed. Under their logic, CABQ could not buy a track for the Lobos, netting for the Isotopes, or turf for the United; all of which we have done for years.

This is a City-owned resource sponsored by Albuquerque legislators. It was not a gift to a team and the City Attorney agrees it is not a violation of the anti-donation clause.  We are more than willing to work with the OIG to update their findings.”

Perdues statement “The cursory OIG report was misinformed” totally omitted the fact the it was the New Mexico Department of Finance  legal counsel that determined that the use of the funds would violate the anti-donation clause .


Gladiators owner Gina Prieskorn-Thomas disputed the Inspector General report.  She said her team has met its obligations “and then some.” She said tickets are distributed to “various youth organizations affiliated with the city” and that the youth camps have occurred as required. The Albuquerque Journal reported that  Prieskorn-Thomas said  she provides camp attendance reports directly to Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Director Dave Simon, but told the Journal should could not furnish the for review until she’d consulted with an attorney because the documents  contain children’s contact information.

Prieskorn-Thomas said she lobbied state legislators for the turf field and that it was initially supposed to go into Tingley Coliseum, a state-owned facility where the Gladiators previously played. When the pandemic prevented them from using the venue in 2021, they relocated to Rio Rancho. While there is no agreement yet to return to Tingley, she said she is in discussions with property representatives to move back.  Prieskorn-Thomas said this:

“There was never any intent for that field not to be in Albuquerque.”

Prieskorn-Thomas never said why it was alright to install the artificial turf purchased and owned by the City of Albuquerque in a State Facility such as Tingly Coliseum and  not installed in a City of Albuquerque owned facility.

Review of Keller campaign finance reports reveals that Prieskorn-Thomas donated $1,250 in her name and $250 under a company named Dark Horse Investments INC for a total of $1,500 to past Keller election campaigns.

The link to the quoted news source is here:




It was in November of 2022 that KRQE 13’s  Investigative Reporter Larry Barker first uncovered the city’s questionable spending on artificial turf for the Duke City Gladiators.  Barker contacted Democrat  Albuquerque City Councilors Louie Sanchez and Republican Brook Bassan for their reaction to the Inspector General’ report finding  that the purchase violated the state constitution.

City Councilor Louie Sanchez said this:

“That money should be spent for Albuquerque taxpayers within the Albuquerque city limits or at an Albuquerque facility.”

KRQE Investigative Reporter Larry Barker ask city Councillor Brook Basaan if the artificial turf  transactions was “by the book?”

ABQ Councilor Brook Bassan responded:

“No. No, not at all. I think that there’s nothing by the book about this. As councilors, as a mayor, as public servants to the city of Albuquerque, we are under obligation and law to make sure that we don’t break the anti-donation clause, and this clearly does that.

City administrators claimed the people of Albuquerque still benefit from that turf because the facility hosts youth activities, but the Inspector General  found that was not enough to make the purchase above board, and recommended the city try to recoup the misspent money from the Gladiators and the events center.

The Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing that report.



Review of the Inspector General Report reveals that the purchase of the artificial turf was so very wrong on a number of levels.   It does not pass the smell test for the following reasons:

FIRST: The NM anti donation clause is clear that no municipality shall directly or indirectly make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation in aid of any private enterprise.   The acquisition of artificial turf for the benefit of a private entity falls squarely into the very definition of what is prohibited. If the artificial turf is in fact owned by the city of Albuquerque, then the city should be charging the Gladiator’s football team and the City of Rio Rancho a fee or rent for use of the artificial turf.

SECOND: Upper management in the Keller Administration exerted immense pressure on lower-level employees to “make it happen” and Keller Administration upper management “wanted this done yesterday”.  Higher ups in the Keller Administration insisted on the purchase.

THIRD: The City’s voter approved bonds were clearly meant for spending the money raised  on City of Albuquerque facilities, but the funding was spent on an asset installed in a City of Rio Rancho facility. The field is located in the City of Rio Rancho and any proceeds or gross receipts tax on ticket sales, concessions, or merchandise are not benefiting the citizens of the City of Albuquerque but providing  a benefit to the citizens of  the City of Rio Rancho.

FOURTH: All the documents reviewed by the Inspector General clearly show  that the $260,00 was used to buy artificial turf  for use by United New Mexico with its logo on the turf even though it had no ownership interest in the turf. The City of Albuquerque , Global Spectrum L.P., and the Duke City Gladiators (DCG) documents reflect that the artificial turf playing field would be an asset of the City, the City would retain ownership, yet it was installed in a City of Rio Rancho facility  and not a City of Albuquerque  facility.

FIFTH:  All City of Albuquerque employees, especially those in the Parks and Recreation Department, knew the artificial turf would be going to Rio Rancho but they said nothing nor did they question or resist  it or make any effort to stop it from happening. Feeling “queasy” does not cut it when no attempt was made to stop the transaction or object to or sign off on it with documented  protest.

SIXTH: The City’s response to the Inspector General’s report was lame at best as it attempts to down play what happened by saying “OIG report was misinformed”.  The city  totally ignored the fact that New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration  legal counsel determined that the use of the funds would violate the terms of the appropriation and that if the City were to use the funds in the proposed manner it would also violate the New Mexico Anti-Dnation Clause, N.M. Const, art. 9, § 14.

SEVENTH: It’s painfully obvious that the Keller Administration at best mislead the City Council and at worst down right lied to the city council at the January 8 meeting when councilors questioned why the City of Albuquerque would pay for artificial turf with city of Albuquerque funds and then turn around and install it a City of Rio Rancho facility. City Councilors Louis Sanchez and Brook Basaan now raise objections in a Larry Barker interview yet do not do a  thing demanding accountability or disciplinary action for being lied to or mislead by the Keller Administration at a city council meeting. It is getting to the point that the City Council needs to place under oath Keller officials to testify truthfully before they make presentations to the city council.

Eighth: Mayor Tim Keller is a former New Mexico State Senator and a former New Mexico State Auditor. He is very familiar knows damn well how the “anti-donation” clause works and how very serious it is to violate it.  When the Inspector General reports that a Parks and Recreation Department employee told investigators there was pressure from “high up” in the Keller Administration to push the artificial turf purchase through, there is  very little doubt that pressure came from the Office of Mayor Tim Keller, perhaps even Keller himself or  Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael doing the Mayor’s bidding.  After all, that’s what any influential football fan and supporter of the Duke City Gladiator’s would do.


Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller makes it known to the press and the public, and even brags about, being a former St. Pius High School Quarterback. He enjoys living his glory days on the football field, so much so that he has actually showed up to LOBO Football practice field to give a “pep talk”  to the UNM football team players as the coach introduced him and then watched with glee.  Keller has also “suited up”  in a Gladiator Football Team uniform to throw around a football with the New Mexico Gladiators.  Keller has had numerous  “publicity shots” of himself  posing in a Gladiator football uniform holding a football with one head shot of him with a very serious look of determination on his face like any high school football jock would do for a year book.

In 2017, when then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller first ran for Mayor, he was swept into office by a landslide.  He ran for Mayor riding a wave of popularity he carefully crafted as a white knight who proclaimed he stopped “waste, fraud and abuse” of taxpayer money.  He relished uncovering “waste, fraud and abuse” by government and referring cases to authorities for prosecution.

Since becoming Mayor, Tim Keller he has virtually  ignored “waste, fraud and abuse” within city hall thereby condoning it.  On more than one occasion “waste, fraud and abuse”  has been found within the Keller Administration, especially within the Albuquerque Police Department with overtime pay scandals and Mayor Keller has never denounced it and has done nothing to curb it.

Now this. The Inspector General has “determined that the allegations [in the complaint] contain elements of potential fraud, waste, or abuse” and found that that the purchase of the artificial turf was a violation of the State’s anti-donation clause. More than a few city employees who were involved the $236,622 purchase need to be removed.  Despite what is going on, Keller is nowhere to be found, he has not been interviewed as to what he intends to do to make this right.  His silence is so typical of Tim Keller to keep low not to be seen during controversy involving his management team and it reflects his failure as a Mayor.


2023 NM Legislative Update: Two Bills Calling For Creation Of Independent Advocate Office To Oversee Children Youth And Family’s Department Pass House and Senate; Governor Lujan Grisham  Resists CYFD Oversight;  Other Noteworthy Bills Stuck In Committee Will Likely Fail With 6 Days Left In Session

Over the last 10 years, New Mexico children have been subject to the most heinous acts of depravity that have shocked the conscious of its citizens that has resulted in deserved severe criticism of the NM Children Youth and Family’s Department.

In 2013 it was 9 year old  Omaree Varela who was beaten to death by his stepfather a full 6 months after child abuse was reported to the Children Youth and Family’s Department and the Department did nothing to intervene.  In 2016  it was 10 year old Victoria Martens who was raped and murdered and then dismembered and her body burned in a bathtub as an attempt to dispose of her body.   In 2017 it was  the  torture-murder of 13 year old Jeremiah Valencia who was confined in a dog crate and tortured for  weeks that left him hobbling on a cane with broken ribs and numerous other injuries. In 2019 it was murder of 4 year old James Dunklee Cruz  who had suffered severe physical  abuse all 4 years of his life. In 2021 it was the  fentanyl death of 12 year old Brent Sullivan.  In February,  a 10-year-old foster child was sexually assaulted by a 14-year-old foster youth in a bathroom of CYFD’s main office building in Albuquerque.

These 5 children, and many more not making the news, suffered abuse, injuries and death at the hands of those who were supposed to care for and protect them.    Each time the deaths made it into the news with reports of the  horrendous abuse, law enforcement and  the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), and other agencies promised to do better to keep this from happening again,  but it keeps on happening.

New Mexico State Senator Joeseph Cervantes, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said during a recent committee hearing on CYFD reform legislation:

“I don’t have a nice way to say this any more. …  I’m beyond frustrated. … We’re telling CYFD to get off their ass.”


Saying enough is enough with the mismanagement of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), the 2023 New Mexico Legislature has taken very aggressive action to demand more oversight of  the CYFD Department. During the 2023 New Mexico Legislative session, more than 30 bills have been filed that would impact CYFD’s operations.


A few of the most notable  bills that would impact CYFD operations include the following:

SENATE BILL 150 would require CYFD to conduct a family assessment when a newborn suffers from drug withdrawals and parents don’t comply with a hospital-issued plan of care.

SENATE BILL 107 gives CYFD up to three days, not two days, to file petitions in cases where the agency has taken custody of a child.

HOUSE BILL  434 would change self-care plans for newborns.


Three bills that have gained significant traction in this year’s legislative session are House Bill 10 and House Bill 11 and Senate Bill 373.  HB 10 and SB 373 are identical calling for the creation of an independent office to oversee CYFD.

House Bill 10  would relax some of the confidentiality restrictions in the Children’s Code, allowing CYFD’s Child Protective Services division to disclose more information to more entities. The bill has the support CYFD and child advocacy groups.  The House Health and Human Services Committee voted to approve it by unanimous vote. HB 10 would  greatly expand information that can be released about child abuses cases resulting in death or where a child has almost died.  The information that could be released would include the child’s cause of death, where the child was living at the time and all prior reports of abuse or neglect made to CYFD. House Bill 10 will  also allows for more information to be given to a foster parent, prospective foster parent, grandparent, sibling or relative being considered for placement of the child.

House Bill 10  also requires that CYFD create a portal on its website disclosing mandated reports and basic data such as the number of fatalities or near fatalities of children in CYFD custody and the number of abuse and neglect complaints that lead to investigations.

House Bill 10  sponsor Rep. Marian Matthews, D-Albuquerque, had this to say about the legislation:

“When a child who is alleged to have been neglected or abused dies, the public asks ‘how could this have happened,’ and, unfortunately, almost always there have been no public answers. …This is truly a sea change in the role of the agency in helping people understand in providing answers to important questions when we have children who are hurt or die when in custody of the department.”


House Bill 11 and Senate Bill 373 are identical and both create the Office of The Child Advocate that will result in aggressive legal oversight for CYFD. The function of the  outside office would be  to  oversee CYFD and investigate complaints, order changes and prosecute if necessary.  The Attorney General will be in charge of the oversight office. The new office would operate an electronic portal and telephone line to accept complaints, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints, and evaluate CYFD policies and procedures.

On March 8, both bills passed their respective chambers. The state House voted 56-9  in favor of House Bill 11 and the Senate  passed Senate Bill 373 on a 30-8 vote with  both bills establishing  an Office of the Child Advocate within the state Attorney General’s Office.  Last year a similar bill passed the House but died in a Senate committee.

Lawmakers they took a different approach this year and  are hopeful one of the bills in fact be enacted.  If either bill passes, it will make New Mexico the 44th state with an ombudsman-like office for its child-welfare system.  Maralyn Beck with New Mexico Child First Network said this:

“This is our fifth year introducing this bill and it’s just so important. 43 other states have a similar office, and Idaho and Louisiana are attempting to introduce it as well. So this is a national best practice.”

Albuquerque State House Representative Marian Matthews, co-sponsor of the House bill  11, said the Legislature should seize the chance in the final days of this year’s session to strengthen oversight and operations of the CYFD. Mathews said this:

“We really have an opportunity this session to make some substantial changes in the laws that govern CYFD and those changes I believe will make it a more effective and responsive agency.”

Democrat State Representative Tara Jaramillo said this:

“This year we did a concerted effort to work with the department and to see what their concerns were. Being heard is important. They heard us as well. So that may have been one of the changes or it may just be time.”

Republican Sen. Crystal Diamond of Elephant Butte urged her colleagues to pass their version of the measure, Senate Bill 373 and said:

“We have a crisis going on in New Mexico. .. We’re seeing the most horrific cases of child abuse in the nation. If [the Attorney General] is committed to pushing back against CYFD to make sure that our vulnerable children are protected, we want to work with him, someone who is passionate, who will do the job and will provide the oversight that CYFD has failed at for so long.

Republican New Mexico state Senator David Gallegos said this:

 “I would love to be invited when the governor signs this because I’ve been fighting this for years, we just need to make sure that our children are our priority and not the adults in the room.”

The House and Senate must sign off on identical legislation to grant final approval to a bill.  One chamber or the other must approve the other’s CYFD bill to send it to the Governor.


Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has recognized and  acknowledged CYFD is “dysfunctional.”   Notwithstanding the Governor  has been very resistant to any separate oversight of the CYFD proclaiming that would lead to a confrontational relationship between government offices and make it harder for CYFD to hire new social workers. In February, Lujan Grisham  announced a “shakeup” of CYFD that entailed creating an “office of innovation” within the CYFD, a new advisory council and a national search to hire several new top agency officials. U,

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has already voiced her opposition to creating an outside office to  oversee New Mexico’s troubled CFD called for in house bill 11 and senate bill 373 and has indicated she will veto the legislation.  Notwithstanding the Governor’ opposition and the Governors Executive Order, legislators have advanced both House Bill 11 and Senate Bill 373.   Although  both bills have received wide bipartisan support,  there are still  9  Democrats and Republicans opposed the  legislation.

Mesilla Democrat Representative Micaela Lara Cadena opposed the House Bill 373  said the bill didn’t adequately reflect the importance of reuniting families and supporting mothers who have struggled. She said this:

“We have thrown away these mothers and these families where these kids came from.”

Links to quoated news sources are here:




One thing is for certain.  The legislature and the general public have reach a level of frustration and downright hostility towards the Children Youth and Family Department that goes beyond the headlines, beyond the excuses and way beyond the empty  promises to do better.

There is no denying it. The Children Youth and Families Department has been a failure for too many years in protecting the state’s children. The abuse and the resulting body count is a tragedy beyond belief. Too many of our most vulnerable  children have fallen through the cracks, too many have died.  The Governor is  politically blind and foolish not to recognize the hostility.

Democrats in the 2023 legislative session hold a 45-25 majority in the House and a 27-15 in the Senate. The 60-day session ends March 18. Given the fact that there is a mere 6 days left in the 2023 legislative session, time is running out and is now of the essence.  Now is the time  for legislators  to  move aggressively forward and do something and mandate oversight of the CYFD.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham  should sign the legislation  immediately upon passage and get on board with stronger oversight of the Children Youth and Family Department. Too many children’s lives are at stake.


Gun Storage “Bennie’s Bill” Passes House, Headed To Governor For Signature; Voting Rights Bill Passes Senate; Gun Ban At Polling Places Advances; Prohibiting Purchase Of Firearms For Felons Passed By House 62-3; One 14 Waiting Period To Purchase Guns Advances; Time Running Out With 8 Days Left Of 2023 Legislative Session

With a mere 7 days left of the 2023 New Mexico legislature, things are heating up with major bills being acted upon. Following is what has happened in Santa Fe over the last few days:


On March 8,  House Bill 9, commonly known as “Bennie’s Bill”  passed the New Mexico House after passage in the Senate. It is now goes to Governor  Michelle Lujan Grisham for her likely approval and signature to become law. “Bennie’s Bill” is named after 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove. A classmate shot and killed him using a parents gun  at their Albuquerque middle school in 2021. 14-year-old Juan Saucedo Jr. used a parent’s gun from home in the shooting.  On March 2, Saucedo plead no contest to second-degree murder, and will stay in custody until he’s 21.

House Bill 9 deals with unlawful access to firearm by minor. The legislation is sponsored by  sponsored by Rep. Pamelya Herndon, Sen. Mimi Stewart, Rep. Joanne Ferry, Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballerro.  The bill was originally written as a safe gun storage bill, but was amended  to secure  more support.

House Bill 9 makes it a crime to store a firearm in a way that negligently disregards the ability of a minor to access it. Criminal charges could be brought only if the minor later brandishes or displays the firearm in a threatening way or uses it to kill or injure someone. Senate Republicans succeeded in amending the bill by a narrow 20-19 vote to exempt hunting and other recreational activities involving firearms from being covered by the bill.   House Bill 9 would make it a misdemeanor to negligently allow a child access to a firearm, and would make it a felony if that negligence resulted in someone dying or suffering great bodily harm.

Bennie Hargrove’s grandmother, Vanessa Sawyer said this about passage of  the legislation:

“It’s a preventative measure. It’s not something that’s going to solve the problem, but it’s a start. I’m glad that New Mexico was willing to take that start. It may save lives and it will hold people accountable for not being responsible with a gun. … This is amazing, very moving and emotional. I’m happy that a change is about to take place for New Mexico. It’s a very important law and the family can’t believe it has happened. … We’re sorry that it happened this way following his death. I feel Bennie is going to rest now. He’s going to be satisfied and just as excited as I am.”

Rep. Pamelya Herndon, the primary  sponsor of House Bill 9,  had this to say about its passage:

“While life will never be the same for Bennie’s family, House Bill 9 will help prevent other families in New Mexico from experiencing the same unthinkable tragedy.  … This bill is the result of years of hard work by the families and students who have been affected by gun violence, and I am so happy to see it finally cross the finish line in the legislature and head to the Governor’s desk.” 




On March 8, House Bill 4, the Voting Rights Act, passed the NM Senate on a 27 to 14 party line vote after 3 hours of debate. The major provisions of House Bill 4 are as follows:

  1. Phasing in a system of automatic voter registration, such as during MVD  transactions, for citizens who are qualified to vote but aren’t registered.  Supporters say it would include an opt-out for those who don’t want to register, similar to what’s used in Colorado.


  1. Creation of a permanent absentee voter list. Voters would have the option of opting in to receive ballots by mail before every election rather than  having to apply each time.


  1. Automatic restoration of voting rights for inmates exiting prison. Under the current system, they must complete probation or parole before registering to vote again. There are 21 states that automatically restore voting rights after incarceration. Another 16, including  New Mexico, require someone convicted of a felony to complete their entire sentence, including probation and parole, before registering to vote.


  1. Establishing a Native American Voting Rights Act intended to better coordinate access to the polls on tribal land and allow the use of tribal buildings as a voter-registration address for people without a traditional  address.


  1. Calling for election day to be a state holiday.

It was  Republican Senator William Sharer, R-Farmington, who effectively killed the measure last year with a filibuster on the Senate floor. In order to run out the clock on the legislative session, Sharer talked about San Juan River fly-fishing, baseball rules, Navajo Code Talkers and the celestial alignment of the sun and moon during his lengthy filler buster on the Senate floor. Sharer’s antics are a prime example of the lengths Republicans will go to in order to interfere with a person’s right to vote and make it as difficult as possible  to vote and to disenfranchise people.

Albuquerque area Democrat Senator Katy Duhigg, a former Cit of Albuquerque City Clerk and sponsor of the bill had this to say during debate:

“Our democracy, our sacred right to vote is under threat and this requires a strong community driven response. That’s why this bill is before this body today.   The most significant— or the biggest part of this bill— is the Native American Voting Rights Act.  As you all know, Native Americans have only had the right to vote in New Mexico for 74 years. And while we recognize the courage and perseverance of [Native Americans], we must also recognize our role in disenfranchising native voters in New Mexico and the long way we have to go in eliminating double standards for our states original inhabitants. … [House Bill 4 seeks to align]  precinct boundaries so that they honor the existing political boundaries of tribes and pueblos by requiring translation services at the polls, allowing voters living on tribal lands to designate tribal government buildings as mailing addresses to facilitate absentee voting, and giving tribal governments more ability to administer elections in ways that makes sense for their communities honoring local expertise and tribal sovereignty.”

Farmington area Republican Senator  Bill Sharer offered a floor substitute that included an update to the Native American Voting Rights Act which included broadcasting in native languages of nations, tribes and pueblos and allows the nations, tribes and pueblos to determine their own precinct and polling locations. The floor substitute failed on a 14 to 27 vote.

Duhigg found the floor substitute interesting but opposed it  and said this:

“I’ll say I think there are actually some interesting ideas in here that, had I seen them at anytime before we were in the middle of the floor debate on the bill, I probably would have been interested in integrating them into the bill and I’d be happy to work in the next session on continuing to bolster our Native American Voting Rights Act. …  But at this time, this is unfriendly because it would deprive New Mexico voters of all the other protections in the bill.”


Republican Senators repeated many of their of the same objections and criticism of the almost identical Voting Rights Act that the voted against last year. Those objections included:

  1. The voluntary permanent absentee voter list which allows people to choose to sign up to be put on a list to receive an absentee ballot through the mail for each election. Currently, voters must request an absentee ballot for each election. Under the permanent absentee voter provision, a voter would fall off the list if they did not vote in two consecutive elections.
  2. Restoring the right to vote for felons released from prison and updating the process for automatic voter registration so that it is an opt in process rather than an opt out process. The issue with the opt-in-opt-out question is that some religious faiths reject involvement in politics.  Sen. Greg Baca, R-Belen, said that he had been in contact with lawyers for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which are a faith that remains politically neutral based on biblical teachings.
  3. Republicans objected to the monitored, secured ballot drop boxes and argued they would be subject to easy theft. The boxes are monitored by motion sensor video surveillance which are public records. Duhigg responded that the boxes are anchored to the ground to prevent theft, Duhigg said.

House Bill 4 will now be referred  to the House for concurrence since the bill was amended in committee. If the bill is signed into law, the bill would go into effect January 1, 2024.

The link to quoted news source material is here:



On March 7, Senate Bill 44  which will  bar firearms from being brought within 100 feet of a polling place of from taking a firearm inside a polling place passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 5-4 party line vote with all  Democrats voting YES in favor and all Republicans NO in opposition.

Mason Graham, the policy director for Common Cause New Mexico, a group that supports the legislation, said at least one report was received during last year’s election cycle of an individual armed with a firearm at a polling place. Graham said  such instances can deter some voters from casting a ballot.

Senate Bill 44 was opposed by all  Republican lawmakers on the committee  who questioned whether it could apply to businesses or homes located adjacent to a polling place.  Clovis area Republican Andrea Reeb, a former District Attorney, had this to say:.

“It seems like it’s going to cause a lot more issues than it’s going to solve.”

Democratic House Judiciary Committee supporters of the bill said common sense would prevail in such situations  comparing the bill to a current prohibition against bringing guns into school zones.


Currently, there is no law in New Mexico to punish someone who gives a firearm to a convicted felon.

The House Judiciary Committee endorsed HOUSE BILL 306 that would make it a fourth-degree felony to knowingly buy a firearm for someone who is not eligible to possess the weapon, such as a convicted felon or a minor. House Bill 30  is sponsored by House Minority Leader Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, and backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. It passed the committee without dissent on a 9-0 vote.

On March House Bill 306 passed the New Mexico House with a 62-3 vote with bipartisan support.

Democratic New Mexico state Rep. Raymundo Lara said this about its passage:

“The loophole is that the law does not exist. So, this is the very first time something like this has happened. And I’m very happy to see that it’s a bipartisan effort. House Bill 306 is a bill that will hold people accountable when they purchase a firearm for another person who shouldn’t have it. And we were careful to include the purchases and the transfer of firearms.”

New Mexico House Minority Leader Republican Rep. Ryan Lane and Democratic Rep. Raymundo Lara worked together on the bill. Lane said this:

“It’s important in New Mexico because right now our state prosecutors and our state police officers can’t pursue these types of crimes. And so, it gives our law enforcement another tool to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

House Bill 306 will now be forwarded to the Senate for consideration.


The measures are among a gun safety bills that are still in the mix as lawmakers enter the homestretch of the 60-day legislative session that started Jan. 17.

Senate Bill 44  and HOUSE BILL 306 are among numerous  firearm regulations proposals that are under considerations.  However, the majority of the others  have stalled in committee  including the  proposed ban the sale of automatic firearms and hollow-point ammunition the proposal to establish a 14-day waiting period before the completion of a gun sale.

On March 8, Senate Judiciary Committee voted  to approve Senate Bill 427 a waiting period bill with an exception for buyers who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm, sending it on to the full Senate.  Senate Bill 427 is  sponsored by Democratic Senator  Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and it  is similar to another bill awaiting action by the House, though the House version doesn’t have the concealed-carry exemption.

The link to quoted news source material is here:



The 60-day session ends March 18. Given the fact that there is a mere  8 days left of the 2023 legislative session, it is becoming painfully obvious that there is much legislation, especially gun control legislation, that  is  not going to get enacted and it’s a damn shame.

Democrats in the 2023 legislative session hold a 45-25 majority in the House and a 27-15 in the Senate. New Mexico Democrats are looking very foolish not enacting their priorities, especially reasonable and responsible gun control measures, as New Mexico Republican legislators continue with obstructionist tactics.