Legalizing recreational marijuana?
Tapping into the multibillion-dollar Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education programs?
Repealing a decades-old law that makes it a fourth-degree felony to perform an abortion?
Efforts in the state Legislature that have been unsuccessfully tried in the past are among the legislative priorities Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham unveiled Wednesday ahead of the 60-day session, which begins Jan. 19.
So, what’s different this time around?
While Democrats still outnumber Republicans in both chambers, conservative-leaning Democrats who stood in the way of such legislation have been replaced by more progressive lawmakers.
“The governor understands the critical importance of these issues and looks forward to working with the incoming Legislature to make these goals a reality for New Mexicans,” Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor, wrote in an email.
The push to draw from the Land Grant Permanent Fund will be among the most closely watched. Repeated efforts have failed over the past five years. But the decision doesn’t rest on legislators alone. Such a move requires the Legislature to approve a ballot question asking voters to decide on a constitutional amendment allowing the state to pull money from the investment fund. It may require congressional approval, too.
Other priorities on the governor’s agenda range from allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol to help boost their sales amid the pandemic to reforming the state procurement code to give Native-owned, minority-owned and woman-owned businesses preference in state contracts. The governor also wants to reform predatory lending practices by limiting annual interest rates and reduce emissions from the transportation sector, among others.
The Governor’s Office said Lujan Grisham’s legislative priorities will “position New Mexico for a swift and robust recovery from the pandemic and will provide for sustainable progress and continued forward momentum in public education, economic development and public health and safety beyond the COVID-19 crisis.”
In a statement, the governor said New Mexico will recover from this challenging year.
“The question is what kind of future we want to make for ourselves after we put these crises behind us,” she said. “We still have the power to decide what we will become. And the time to decide is this session, this year. We can choose to return to the same-old, or we can set ourselves up to roar back to life after the pandemic, ready to break new ground and thrive. I look forward to working closely with the Legislature in the coming weeks to achieve our shared vision of a prosperous, healthy and happy New Mexico.”
Staff writer Robert Nott contributed to this report.