SANTA FE, N.M. (March 24, 2016) – New Mexico State House and Senate leadership helped maintain the status quo, failing to take action against unconstitutional spying and the failed drug war in 2016. It killed four bills that would have hampered the federal enforcement of these unconstitutional policies, with several legislative acts not even receiving a vote in their respective chambers.
A rundown of key legislation that failed in New Mexico this year is as follows:
Senate Joint Resolution 5 (SJR5) was introduced on Jan. 19 by Sen. Gerald Ortiz Y Pino (D-Albuquerque) to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and would have taxed and regulated the plant in a similar manner as alcohol by the state. However, SJR5 effectively died on Feb. 14 after the Senate rejected the bill in a 17-24 vote, squandering another chance for meaningful cannabis reform in the Land of Enchantment. Sen. Ortiz Y Pino also introduced SJR6 to legalize recreational cannabis on Jan. 19 as well, which was squashed in the Senate Rules Committee by Chairwoman Linda Lopez (D-Bernalillo) without even receiving a vote.
There was another more comprehensive measure in the House that could have legalized recreational marijuana as well as industrial hemp. Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces) introduced House Bill 75 (HB75) to legalize the possession, use, cultivation and sale of marijuana for persons over 21 years old, along with the production of industrial hemp, and create an extensive regulatory structure for the production and sale of both plants. This legislation was killed in the House Rules & Order of Business Committee by Chairman Paul Bandy (R-Aztec) without even receiving a vote.
Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and Rep. Jim Dines (R-Albuquerque) introduced Senate Bill 154 (SB154) to add explicit protections for electronic data and communications for New Mexico residents. It would bar law enforcement and government officials in the state from accessing electronic data and communications without a lawful warrant or wiretap order. Unfortunately, this bill never made it out of the Senate Committees’ Committee. Chairwoman Mary Kay Papen (D-Las Cruces) killed SB154 and refused to even give it a vote.
OTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
To make matters worse, there are many other pressing issues that were not even addressed by the New Mexico legislature this year. For example, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation to transition back to gold and silver as legal tender by sanctioning a state-based bullion depository last year. In 2013, a measure that effectively nullified any future federal gun control measures was signed into law. No legislator in the New Mexico House and Senate even proposed measures on these critical fronts.
We have seen more states step up to the plate and propose measures to stop Common Core in 2016 than any other year, by far. New Mexico was not among them. No legislation was introduced to place limits on the technology that is being used by Big Brother to harm our privacy rights. Stingray and Hailstorm devices, automated license plate reader devices, Drones, and other troubling aspects of technological surveillance went unaddressed. This dereliction of duty by New Mexico state legislators is both tragic and unacceptable.
“Whether these bills even have a chance to pass right now or not is not the point. Introduction is the only way get the ball rolling,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center.
Although New Mexico legislators have failed to act when it mattered the most, the fight will continue. The legislators who betrayed their oath to the Constitution and killed these bills are now vulnerable to pressure. Do not forget to alert your community about these turncoats who put your rights in jeopardy, New Mexicans. From that point, the legislature can be remade with public servants who have the spine to listen to the Founding Fathers and nullify unconstitutional federal acts.
The process can be a tedious one, but it can yield a tremendous payoff. Many of the states that are currently passing several nullification bills each year were in New Mexico’s boat in the not-too-distant past. However, activists in those states never gave up when times were tough and eventually pushed their legislators in the right direction. That is the future that New Mexico can achieve, but it is going to take some grit and determination to get there. Are you up to the challenge?