April 27, 2023

Welcome to the Legislators’ Panel

After every legislative session, PVA invites our local representatives and senators to share their successes and failures and answer our questions. The following legislators attended:

Representative Micaela Lara Cadena

Senator Joseph Cervantes

Senator Carrie Hamblen

Representative Nathan Small

Senator Bill Soules

The wide range of topics included gun safety laws, judicial salary increases for state judges, the significant amount of money in the budget, solar for low income households, should the legislators be paid a salary and why they aren’t, how to override the governor’s vetoes, teacher salary increases and how they are working, the pros and cons of the restructured Public Regulation Commission. It was a fascinating session–you really had to be there.

Civic Engagement Needs You

Terry Miller reported that supporters of the City Council turned out in impressive numbers and showed their support at the April 3 meeting. [You can watch the meeting video here.] Terry announced that a new group has been created–Action Committee for Civic Engagement. The purpose of the group is to be sure that citizens show up at meetings of the City Council, the County Commission, and the Las Cruces School Board. They welcome volunteers to show up (you’re not committing to every meeting), listen, and speak if inclined to do so (speaking is not a requirement).

For more information email Terry or call her at 575-635-2637.

A star is born–a progressive TikTok Star

Abraham Sanchez with ProgressNow New Mexico announced that the NM Voting Rights Act passed with strong margins in the House and Senate. At a time when many states are restricting voting rights “New Mexico is standing as a shining example,” Abraham said. 

PNNM is working to become a force on the major social media platforms, so check them out on Facebook, Tik Tok, etc. [Abraham’s recent post on Tik Tok about book banning in Rio Rancho has 28K views.]

For more information email Abraham.

Local author gets five star review

Rocky Bacchus, no stranger to lobbying our legislators, gave The Sausage Factory, by Senator Bill Soules, a five-star review. He said the book gave him insight into the workings of the Roundhouse. “It can make you much more effective in doing something good and knowing what things will make a difference.”

For more information email Rocky.

A heartfelt thanks and a work session invitation

Earl Nissen gave a shout out to Peter Goodman for his stellar work at KTAL. [Peter has announced that he is stepping away from KTAL “for a while.”]

Earl announced that a proposal for a Police Oversight Committee will be discussed at the City Council’s May 22 work session. He urged us to attend.

City Council Work Session
May 22, 1 p.m.
City Council Chambers

For more information email Earl.

Mental health initiatives are going forward

Al Galves announced that two mental health initiatives are being pursued for southern New Mexico, even though they were not funded by the recent legislature. One initiative is Soteria House, a residential treatment center for people with schizophrenia. The model is being used effectively in many communities, and the outcomes are superior to traditional hospitalization. The second project is Los Amigos which will provide transitional housing and support for those coming out of jail, mental hospitals, or homelessness.

For more information email Al.

NeighborWoods is all about trees

Jamie Blair invited interested people to learn more about (and possibly volunteer with) Neighborwoods, a program to bring trees to Las Cruces, because trees cool the town, save water, and foster a sense of community. Everyone is invited to attend their June 9 meeting.

NeighborWoods Open Meeting
Friday, June 9, 10 a.m.
Frank O’Brien Papen Center, 304 Bell Avenue

They will be planting the first trees on November 18.

For more information email Jamie.

Community Solar Act explained

Allen Downs reminded everyone to sign up for the time-of-day rate from El Paso Electric. There is no risk and you might save some money. Allen explained that the Community Solar Act is now in effect, and approved projects would be announced May 9. He also recommended checking with Rocky Bacchus who has been involved firsthand with Community Solar.

For more information email Allen.

One cruel and unusual punishment abolished

Denali Wilson, an attorney with ACLU of NM [also Aletta’s granddaughter] pointed to real victories in this legislature–voting rights, reproductive rights, indigenous justice, and criminal legal reform. After five years of trying, New Mexico became the 27th state to end life without parole as a sentencing option for children. Denali pointed out that there is a tremendous need now to help people prepare for the opportunity for parole and the possibility of returning to their home community.

For more information email Denali.

PRC shenanigans

Lynn Moorer pointed out that the new Public Regulation Commission (3 appointed commissioners) seems to be in favor of approving an Avangrid-PNM merger that was denied in 2021 by the previous PRC (5 elected commissioners). Lynn said the current PRC has held closed meetings and engaged in ex parte communication in violation of state laws and rules. 

For more information email Lynn and call her at 575-520-3045.

Electrify everything, a roundtable discussion

Jane Asche invited everyone to a roundtable discussion to be led by Don Kurtz. The topic is “Electrify Everything: Four and a half personal decisions that will save our planet.”

Electrify Everything
Unitarian Universalist Church
Sunday, April 30, 2 p.m.

For more information email Jane.

The side of the nuclear testing story that doesn’t get told

Mary Martinez White invited us to attend the opening of “Legacies of Nuclear Testing” on July 11 at 11 a.m. She said the exhibit will tell the people’s side of the story, the side of the nuclear testing story that doesn’t get told. Other exhibits and Oppenheimer, the film, will also focus on our nuclear history.

Trinity: Legacies of Nuclear Testing. A People’s Perspective
July 11 to September 23, 2023
Branigan Cultural Center

Exposure, Native Art, and Political Ecology
A traveling exhibit documents indigenous artists responses to the impacts of nuclear testing, nuclear accidents, and uranium mining around the world
July 28 to November 12, 2023
El Paso Museum of Art

July 21, 2023, nationwide opening of the movie. The Fountain Theater in Mesilla will be showing this movie!

For more information email Mary.

Candidate for Mayor

Kasandra Gandara, city councilor and mayor pro tem, announced that she is running for mayor and noted that she would be the first woman mayor in the city’s history. She referred to the value of her experiences as a social worker and promised, ”I love my city and will lead with love, integrity, and compassion.”

For more information email Kasandra and call her at 575-640-6344..

Free ESL and GED classes

Lynn Austin announced that Branigan will offer classes for high school equivalency (GED) and English as a second language (ESL). The classes are free and begin May 1.  

For more information email Lynn.

And with that we called it a night.

PVA meets again

Thursday, May 25, 2023

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