2022 Session Debrief

With the 2022 legislative session now complete, this is a last in a series of special editions of the Intelligencer, concluding with a recap of the 2022 legislative session, the latest movidas, and all other notable activity.

Our coverage this week begins with a debrief of the 2022 session.  Also this week:

  • The Democrats struggle with their progressive image
  • New Mexico's energy grid problems
  • The cult of masked schoolchildren

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Send us any feedback (including chismes and quejas) by going to our website or shoot me an email at dax[AT]nmhispanos.com. And if you are not already subscribed, sign up here.


Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos

2022 Legislative Session Debrief

With the upcoming midterm elections, Michelle Lujan Grisham's reelection, and the progressives' interparty battles, the 2022 legislative session was bound to be interesting, but it turned out to be even wilder than anticipated.

The Governor

Going into January, MLG was trying to strike a balance between her D.C. handlers/left-wing base and the average New Mexican voter. On the one hand, she continued the extended lockdown while on the other she talked tough on crime and attempted to placate the oil counties with a hydrogen energy scheme.

The result was a lose-lose: she felt the scorn of the eco-radicals and failed to secure hydrogen legislation. Although she did manage to squeeze out meager tax cuts for a select few and a crime reduction bill that will do nothing to reduce crime, this session was not a boon for the governor – more like a blown opportunity to better position herself as the election season begins.

The Speaker

House Majority Speaker Brian Egolf began the session wielding the gavel, but as the tensions between the moderate/conservative remnant of the state Democrats and the progressive leader, Egolf’s power tactics alienated freshman and reasonable members. By siding with the environmentalist extremists over the governor and attempts to bully any dissent, Egolf actually losing his leadership title was anticipated by some Roundhouse insiders.

Along with recent ethics concerns over his private practice profiting from his “public service”, it became clear the time was right for him to step down and protect both his financial and political fortunes. The Egolf/Ely/Stapleton era is over, and it remains to be seen if the current political environment will will draw the Democrats back to more traditional governance or if the leftward movement is only temporarily on hold.

The Secretary of State

Maggie Toulouse Oliver tried to have it both ways: publicly endorse an election bill that included some genuine improvements that was supported by the County Clerks and was truly bipartisan (SB6), while maneuvering behind the scenes for her preferred bill (SB8) being pushed by well-financed, progressive dark money groups and the most radical left-wing activists.

In a bizarre display in the house chamber, Maggie raised her hand high for democracy but collaborated with Egolf's bullying tactics to whip votes among the Democrats. In the end she got nothing: no legitimate improvements and no partisan election rigging. She will face reelection with a record of lawsuits and shaken confidence in her ability to be a honest, non-partisan overseer of our voting system.

The Senate

It was a mild year for the mild-mannered Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, who is neither liked by his own party nor hated by the opposition. With budget-focused 30 day session (minus the election-year posturing), the main action in the chamber was the aforementioned election bills: the bipartisan SB6, the radical SB8, and the superfluous two-page SB144 to address “Election Worker Intimidation” – a solution without a problem.

But it was when House Judiciary revived the dead-on-arrival SB8, by injecting it into SB144 (while stripping the good parts of SB6), that the real drama began. And as the dawn’s early light broke on the last day of the session, Sen. William Sharer’s epic filibuster snuffed out the electoral fantasy of Sen. Carrie Hamblen and the so-called "woke", intersectional Left.

The House Minority

With only 24 Republicans, the "super-minority" party of opposition didn’t have much to work with: Egolf and the hard Left had no incentive to compromise, and the governor’s self-serving agenda left little room for underlings, who were trying to just get bills out of committees run by rule-breaking chairmen. For example, HJR3, a proposal to provide a check and balance on the Governor’s emergency orders was killed by Rep. Gail Chasey before it even got to the judiciary committee.

But, knowing they had nothing to lose, the House Minority led by Jim Townsend and Rod Montoya kept their caucus united and stood strong against Egolf’s rule. The minority dug in, played their only remaining parliamentary cards, and outlasted the arrogant Democrats and their unforced errors. All GOP members fought hard, and by preventing some of the worst bills and keeping many more off the floor, the Republicans should be commended for protecting New Mexicans from what could otherwise have been a disastrous session.

"Squad" politics backfire as Democrats struggle with party image

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Details: The evidence is mounting that the far left progressive politics of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and the so-called "Squad," once heralded as the future of the Democrat Party, is clearly backfiring according to recent reports, led by a recent piece in Axios.

Background: The progressive policy platform that includes supporting efforts to defund the police, rename public buildings (looking at you Oñate High School), and tearing down statues (looking at you Santa Fe) have all significantly hurt the party’s overall image and alienated moderate voters.

What they're saying: "Now, the brand is so toxic that people who are Democrats, the ones left, aren't fighting for the party," Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota recently told the AP.

What we're watching: The progressive machine in New Mexico has, in recent years, seen historic wins up and down the ballot, but the political environment both nationally and locally seems to be strongly turning against their failed, radical agenda. As the election season heats up we'll be watching if the New Mexico Democrats double down or (as exemplified by MLG) if they try to reposition themselves as moderates.

The blackout concerns are mostly alleviated for 2022, but 2023 is another story...

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Details: Yesterday PNM, the state's largest electric utility, announced they would extend operations at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station to avoid blackouts this summer.

Background: PNM had requested the Public Regulation Commission approval last week to extend the coal plant's operations - and if you've been following us on twitter you would know that there was also a last minute push in the session to included language to explicitly allow coal operations through summer of this year.

What they're saying: “The ball is in PNM’s court,” said Commissioner Cynthia Hall, after the PRC said that their approval of PNM's original request to abandon San Juan in 2020 did not "set a specific date for abandonment", or closure of the plant.

What we're watching: As we mentioned before, the timing of the extension is suspicious: it coincidentally is just long enough to reduce the possibility of blackouts this summer and the possibility of a major embarrassment to MLG and her "mini" Green New Deal right in the middle of her reelection campaign. Unfortunately, the energy shortage of 2023 (due to the coal closure and ending of nuclear power leases) have yet to be resolved...

History will not look kindly on our evidence-free decision to make kids suffer most

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Details: This weekend Tablet Magazine ran a piece titled, "The Cult of Masked Schoolchildren", in which the writer notes that the misguided obsession to mask our kids "isn’t a matter of protecting children, their teachers, or their grandparents; it’s delusional and dangerous cultlike behavior."

The writer continues:

"The way to reduce scientific uncertainty when it comes to practices like masking young children is to conduct randomized studies. When it comes to masking kids in schools, the global scientific community has launched no such studies during the pandemic. The U.K. government recently commissioned a report on the efficacy of masks in school settings, which failed to identify any clear evidence in favor of this practice."

The big picture: The fact-filled piece paints a sad story about how our state's leaders will "not look wise or kind for insisting that kids and toddlers wear masks for hours on end, year after year, without ever testing this policy with controlled trials." Thankfully with MLG's recent lifting of the mask mandate last week this tragedy is beginning to end, but the long term effects on future generations are largely unknown.

 

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  • Maia Duerr
    commented 2022-02-24 14:47:24 -0700
    What “extended lockdown”? In what way have you not been able to go into pretty much any venue that you want — stores, restaurants, offices? The flaming inaccuracy of this statement makes me wonder about the veracity of the rest of what you’ve written.