New Mexico governor delivers State of the State address
SANTA FE, N.M. — The 2024 legislative session is underway in Santa Fe.
The tension was on full display during the State of the State address Tuesday afternoon, as several protesters interrupted the governor as she was delivering her speech.
In three waves, protestors chanted about global warming and called for a ceasefire in Gaza. Dozens of them were removed from the gallery.
Once the State of the State resumed, there was another interesting visual. The governor has Democratic majorities in both chambers, but it doesn’t seem like the governor and her own party are in lockstep.
The governor walked into the House chamber knowing she had to convince Democrats that her way is the best way to spend that $3.5 billion surplus – on top of the $9 billion budget the state has right now.
A big part of the governor’s pitch was housing. She has two big ideas – one, a quarter of a billion dollars to put into homebuying assistance programs to help them with down payments and help get New Mexicans into safe housing. The second proposal is to put another $250 million into low-interest loans to get construction companies to choose New Mexico and get to work.
“We know that New Mexico needs to construct thousands of homes as fast as possible,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Yet too often, housing development is stalled by a complicated web of zoning and permitting requirements that vary from city to city and county to county. To build for the future, we need to fund development, smart, fair, equitable development, and then get the hell out of our own way.”
Another major priority for the governor this legislative session is gun violence. She’s pushing to increase the age to buy a rifle to 21 years old. She wants a 14-day waiting period on gun purchases – that idea failed during the last session. She also wants increased penalties for felons caught with a gun when they shouldn’t have – a page from the Republicans’ playbook.
Her one big sell to Democrats was for a proposed assault weapons ban. It’s modeled off a previous federal ban, and the governor said it could save lives.
“We have seen too many ruined lives, too many broken families, too many stolen futures, and too many small coffins,” Lujan Grisham said. “This violence is horrific. It is tragic. And it is entirely preventable. It’s preventable.”
It’s safe to expect Republican lawmakers will challenge all of the governor’s gun control proposals, but it appears the governor will also have to convince some of her fellow Democrats to back her gun safety initiatives.
The entire State of the State address is available below.
GOVERNOR’S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Gov. Lujan Grisham’s legislative agenda for the 2024 session includes:
Economic Development & Infrastructure
- Dedicate 2% (approx. $170 million) of the state’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund to invest in companies developing advanced energy technologies
- Establish an advanced manufacturing tax credit as a companion to the Inflation Reduction Act incentives
- Establish an infrastructure matching fund to enable communities to access federal grants that require a local match
Housing & Homelessness
- Establish a state Office of Housing as a one-stop shop for housing developers and contractors, streamlining processes from start to finish
- Require local governments to implement zoning and permitting requirements that are best practice as a condition of receiving state funding for housing development
Health Care, Behavioral Health & Child Well-Being
- Establish a hospital provider tax that will bring in an additional $1.5 to $2 billion in federal dollars into the state
- Fully launch the Health Care Authority
- Require 180 days of instruction at public schools
- Require a 14-day waiting period for the purchase of firearms
- Ban assault weapons
- Raise the purchase age to 21 for all firearms
- Prohibit guns in public parks and on playgrounds
- Allow law enforcement to directly file Extreme Risk Protection Orders
- Increase penalties for felons in possession of a firearm
- Strengthen commercial burglary statute
- Establish a rebuttable presumption to keep violent criminals behind bars pending trial
- Require treatment for those repeatedly entering the criminal justice system as a result of substance misuse
- Prohibit panhandling on medians and roadways
It appears most Democrat lawmakers agree that the Legislature needs to do something to address gnu violence in New Mexico, but leaders appear to be focused on approving new limitations – not outright restrictions.
House Democrat leaders outlined their legislative priorities Tuesday morning ahead of the governor’s speech. They expressed interest in passing a 14-day waiting period for all gun sales, raising the age limit to buy all guns to 21, and expanding New Mexico’s so-called “red flag law” to make it easier for law enforcement to confiscate guns from people considered a danger to themselves and others.
Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth agrees those bills have the best chance of crossing the finish line.
“I think those are certainly bills that we talked about, and we’ll be looking at,” Wirth said. “And I think supporting the Constitution, figuring out the constitutional lane is something that our Senate Judiciary Committee will look carefully at. But I’m hoping we can get a number of these bills across the line.”
Wirth says he’s planning to sponsor a bill to prohibit guns at polling places, which is another one of the governor’s gun control proposals.
As for her proposed assault weapons ban, the future is unclear. The bill is sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Andrea Romero and based on U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s federal GOSAFE Act. However, Speaker of the House Javier Martinez would not directly say if party leadership is backing the initiative.
“All of those bills will be reconsidered, they’ll be heard, they’ll have a fair hearing will have votes that will be taking place, both in committee and then if those bills move through on the floor of the House,” Martinez said.
Wirth says he supports the idea, but suggested the notoriously tough Senate Judiciary Committee will likely spend a lot of time debating if an assault weapon ban is constitutional.
After the State of the State address, KOB 4 heard from both the House and Senate Republicans. They disagreed with most of the points the governor made, especially when it comes to gun control.
The governor has a lot of asks when it comes to gun safety, including 14-day waiting periods, raising the purchasing age to 21, and banning assault weapons. Republicans say those approaches won’t curb crime, instead, it will make it harder for people to protect themselves.
“We don’t have a gun problem,” said House Minority Leader Ryan Lane. “New Mexico is very unique that both right and left, we celebrate the 2nd Amendment. We have a mental health and career criminal problem and until we deal with those, passing gun laws will just punish law-abiding citizens.”
The Republican Party of New Mexico also shared the following statement in response to the governor’s address:
“New Mexicans do not need the governor to tell them the ‘state of the state.’ Every day, the education system is failing our students, more families are struggling to afford basic necessities, homelessness is increasing, fear of being a crime victim has become a daily concern, small businesses are closing or leaving the state, there is a healthcare shortage, worker shortage, and dependence on the government continues to grow.
Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Democratic legislature are pushing priorities that are out of touch with the issues that matter most to New Mexicans. Millions of tax dollars for more electric vehicle chargers? New Mexicans are struggling to make ends meet, let alone afford a costly electric vehicle.
The governor reiterated she is content to repeat the insanity of throwing more tax dollars at the same decades-old, failed policies instead of promoting new prosperity-producing approaches like school choice, using the billion-dollar surplus to refund money to taxpayers, keeping criminals behind bars, strengthening our border security, and supporting New Mexico’s energy independence.
Most troubling was the governor’s goal for ‘public safety’ this session, which is to continue to try to disarm law-abiding citizens, leaving families defenseless while hoping criminals will obey her orders. There is nothing ‘common sense’ about that. Republicans aim to fix the broken criminal justice system while preserving the Second Amendment rights of New Mexicans.
All in all, money alone cannot solve the problems in NM. Policies that support small businesses, our teachers, healthcare workers, the oil and gas industry, local decision-makers, and the rights of all our citizens should be the goal.
The governor concluded her address by saying New Mexico is “made to lead,” but until we head in a new direction, we will continue to stay behind the rest of the nation.
This legislative session, the Republican party of New Mexico is striving to uplift the state from the bottom of all the lists. We can bring about positive change for everyone if the Democratic majority works with us towards the goal of a prosperous New Mexico for all.”