February 23, 2023
Special Report: NM Voting Rights Act
Abraham Sanchez of Progress Now New Mexico summed up the New Mexico Voting Rights ACT which has passed a floor vote in the House and is currently making its way through the Senate. Abraham focused on three key components of the NMVRA:
- A secure automatic voter registration system
- Upon release from incarceration, rights restoration for people with felony convictions
- The Native American Voting Rights Act is “absorbed” into the NMVRA and tribal authority is protected.
Abraham urged us to make our voice heard by our senators and representatives. He noted that Senator Cervantes of Doña Ana County chairs the Judicial Committee and therefore plays a key role in the bill’s fate.
For more information send email to Abraham.
NeighborWoods brings trees to Las Cruces neighborhoods
Craig Fenske announced that Tree New Mexico has received a grant to expand their highly successful NeighborWoods program to bring hundreds and hundreds of trees to Las Cruces. They plant 100 trees at a time, neighborhood by neighborhood, to create a canopy that reduces urban heat islands, slows traffic, makes neighborhoods safer, and builds community. Craig invited anyone interested in the planning of this project to contact him.
For more information send email to Craig or call him at 575-640-8846.
Policy and guns
Earl Nissen discussed the City Council’s February 27 work session that will focus on the report of the OIR Group. Earl wants to know how they get their data and why excessive force complaints are excluded. The 203 page report is available online. Earl also enumerated the nine gun laws under consideration by New Mexico lawmakers.
For more information send email to Earl.
Volunteers needed to protect reproductive rights
Cassie Calway explained that she is now the coordinator for volunteers with New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. She said that volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs: escorts, legal observers, drivers to and from the El Paso airport, care package assemblers, and experienced fund raisers. Cassie thanked all those in the room who are already volunteering.
For more information send email to Cassie.
Budgets? They’re moral documents
Kasandra Gandará announced that it’s budget time for the city of Las Cruces and citizens are urged to give their feedback on the city’s website. She stressed the fact that the budget is a moral document and reflects our values and our hopes.
For more information send email to Kasandra.
Local choice energy is a smart choice
Steve Fischmann urged us to support SB165, Local Choice Energy. He explained that the bill does not make a local electric utility mandatory; it simply creates the option. When there is an option, it keeps the IOUs (Independently Owned Utilities) on their toes because there is the potential of (much needed) competition.
For more information send email to Steve.
HB92 would create residential mental health care option in Las Cruces
Al Galves thanked the members of PVA’s Legislative Response Team for their support of HB92, which would appropriate $859,000 for a long term residential treatment facility for schizophrenia. The bill hit an administrative bump, but there is still hope for it. Al asked for supporters to contact Senator Steinborn and members of the Senate Finance Committee.
For more information send email to Al
Reading Buddies: all of the joy and none of the headaches
Marjorie Siegal invited volunteers to join her in the Reading Buddy program, which pairs an adult with a second grader in the Las Cruces Public Schools and sets them free to read together.
For more information send email to Marjorie or call 917-459-8550.
Volunteers are urgently needed
Catherine Walkinshaw echoed Cassie’s plea for volunteers to help protect reproductive rights here in Las Cruces. She said she has been volunteering for several months and volunteers can provide a welcoming presence and a buffer from the anti-abortion protesters who have been showing up in large numbers. “We want women to feel welcomed and to let them know that Las Cruces supports their right to choose.”
For more information send email to Catherine or call 575-932-8313.
What happened to our affordable housing?
Ann Guiterrez asked Councilor Gandará about a Las Cruces Sun News report that the city council had not included affordable housing in the 2023 budget. Gandará said that the city chose not to issue affordable housing bonds because interest rates are “still too high.” However, the city will act when interest rates go down.
For more information send email to Ann.
Don Kurtz reflected on the satisfaction and pure pleasure of seeing the success of people (often candidates) that you have believed in, encouraged, and worked for make their way in the world. He noted that in PVA’s short history (19 years) we’ve had that pleasure repeatedly. Most recently, Xochitl Torres Small is nominated for the #2 position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Gabe Vasquez is really a Congressman, and Nathan Small chairs the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. There are many more examples and more in the making.
For more information send email to Don.
Liberty Luncheon to honor our local legislators
Pat Aguirre invited everyone to attend a luncheon to honor (and hear from) Doña Ana County legislators. The Federation of Democratic Women of Doña Ana County is sponsoring the event. Tickets are $30.
Saturday, April 1, noon
NMSU Golf Club Banquet Room
For more information send email to Pat.
Police accountability measures are desperately needed
Nia Rucker, policy counsel of the ACLU of New Mexico, said that “New Mexico has one of the highest rates of killings by law enforcement officers in the country.” She said that the Las Cruces City Council and the state government are adding more police without putting meaningful accountability measures in place. She asked that we do the following:
- Contact every city councilor and ask that they stop recruiting more police until accountability measures are implemented.
- Support SB252, the Law Enforcement Officer Procedures Act and ask Sheriff Stewart to support this bill.
For more information send email to Nia or call 575-993-2930.
Celebrate Mother Earth on Earth Day
Gayle Eads announced that the Sierra Club is planning a proper celebration for Earth Day, April 22. Festivities will take place at La Cueva picnic area. Save the date and if you’d like to help with the planning, they’d love to have you.
Gayle said that the Sierra Club supports the aerial shooting of feral cattle, and she asked that we call Governor Lujan Grisham and urge her to act.
For more information send email to Gayle.
Commissioner Shannon Reynold’s POV on energy and railroads
Shannon said he had a great experience with locally provided energy in Ohio–it cut his energy bill in half. He expressed concern about HB 105, railroad safety. He said that Union Pacific has invested $1 billion in southern New Mexico and much more investment is expected in the next decade. Shannon expressed concern that if New Mexico requires two operators on every train, “it would put them [Union Pacific] out of business–they’ll leave the state.” He recommended focusing instead on maintenance schedules for the automated systems.
For more information send email to Shannon.
Week-long protest at Holloman Air Force Base
Edwina Vogan announced that there will be a week of protest at Holloman April 15 to 22. They will be raising awareness about the drones based out of Holloman and attempting to talk with personnel during the shift changes. This is a nonviolent event with lots of ways to become involved.
For more information send email to Edwina.
Maribeth Hulsey explained that the feral cows in the Gila are a serious threat to the wilderness and we really need to protect the wilderness we have left. Maribeth said that the environmental groups are in agreement that aerial shooting is the best way to proceed. She urged us to call the governor and let her know our opinions.
For more information send email to Maribeth or call 575-288-5953.
And with that we called it a night.