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Pressure mounting for Lujan Grisham to cancel special session of New Mexico Legislature – Carlsbad Current-Argus

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Pressure mounting for Lujan Grisham to cancel special session of New Mexico Legislature – Carlsbad Current-Argus



Adrian Hedden

Carlsbad Current-Argus

A coalition of mental health groups sided with Republicans in opposing policy proposals by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for a special session the governor planned for July 18.

The governor announced the session earlier this year as targeting “public safety” on the heels of the 2024 Legislative Session where several public safety bills failed to materialize by the February end date.

Two Democrat-backed gun bills passed both chambers after amendedments through negotiations with Republican lawmakers. Lawmakers passed a bill to institute a seven-day waiting period for firearms purchases after shortening the period from 14 days and adding an exemption for concealed carry holders. Lawmakers also added the exemption to another bill to ban firearms at polling places before it passed.

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GOP members were likely to strongly oppose any additional gun bills from Democrats during the special session, instead calling for tightened border security measures and enhanced crime penalties.  Rep. Jim Townsend (R-55) of Artesia suggested a bill to fund businesses damaged by the South Fork and Salt fires in Ruidoso by. Lawmakers did not introduce such as bill as of Tuesday.

What did Republicans propose?

Ahead of the session, Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-32) announced a bill to increase penalties for looting, specifically from homes and businesses evacuated in areas where an emergency declaration is in place, as with the fires in Ruidoso.

The GOP also proposed expanding the list of crimes prosecuted under the state’s Racketeering Act to include human sex trafficking and “sexual exploitation of children.”

Lawmakers will “improve public safety” if the governor deems the GOP’s proposals germane, said Rep. Larry Scot (R-62). He also supported New Mexico tapping into a camera system at the U.S.-Mexico border already put in place by the State of Arizona,

“I’m not as optimistic about the governor’s bills,” Scott said. “If the GOP’s bills are deemed not germane, it will be a waste of time.”

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Mental health groups want session halted

Despite the plans announced by legislators in the months ahead of the session, the ACLU and 40 other groups and nonprofits argued in a June 9 letter to Lujan Grisham that calling the session in less than two weeks would not allow enough time to develop policies adequately addressing New Mexico’s mental health issues.

The groups expressed concerns for several of the governor’s announced priorities for the session, including civil commitment legislation that would broaden the definition of “harm to self” or “harm to others,” effectively making it easier for the state to commit people to mental institutions or incarcerate repeat offenders for longer, the letter read.

Competency legislation could require involuntary commitment for those with mental health problems in criminal court, which the groups argued would remove authority from prosecutors and the courts themselves to make such decisions on a “case by case basis.”

And legislation framed as improving “median safety” could increase penalties to people who are unhoused, but would not address issues of homelessness in New Mexico, the letter read, or “meaningfully” mitigate danger to pedestrians. Such a bill could also lead to more criminal records and debt for the unhoused, read the letter, adding obstacles to them seeking work or shelter.

“As organizations who work for and with individuals and communities most impacted by these struggles, we share the urgent desire to bring these solutions to bear,” the letter read. “However, with less than two weeks to go before session is slated to begin and an obvious lack of consensus between lawmakers on the (continually shifting) legislative proposals, there is simply no way to achieve the solutions New Mexicans deserve.”

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Scott said the state lacked the facilities and staff to hold repeat offenders or those with mental illness “against their will.”

“You order them into treatment, and what happens then?” Scott said. “What we are talking about is a statewide mental health hospital system. Absent a more comprehensive plan, we aren’t going to make any progress.”

Calling off session ‘not an option,’ governor says

Lujan Grisham said lawmakers needed the special session to add to public safety legislation passed during the regular 30-day session, arguing it would allow lawmakers to approve bills to make the state “safer.”

“The special session in July will enable us to deliver additional statutory changes that reduce the danger and risk New Mexico communities face every day,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The best proposals for making our state safer will be under consideration, and I welcome input from my colleagues in the legislature.”

Press Secretary Michael Coleman said Tuesday New Mexico’s criminal justice system was in need of the reforms proposed by the governor. He said the governor also asked lawmakers to pass legislation that would increase penalties for convicted felons possessing guns.

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Coleman said the median safety bill would address New Mexico’s status as having the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the U.S., and another proposal would call on law enforcement to collect better crime data to inform state-wide strategies.

“While the governor appreciates input from mental health and social justice advocates, calling off the special session and doing nothing is not an option,” Coleman said. “The status quo is not working in New Mexico, and every day that the root causes of crime and other public safety challenges go unaddressed is another day that New Mexicans are placed at risk.”

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 734-972-6855, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on the social media platform X.





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New Mexico

The struggles holding New Mexico back

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The struggles holding New Mexico back





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University of New Mexico Health System provides first-time sleep apnea device surgery

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University of New Mexico Health System provides first-time sleep apnea device surgery


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For those who struggle with lack of sleep, the University of New Mexico Health System and Sciences is providing a new way to treat sleep apnea.

High blood pressure, heart, and lung issues are just some of the impacts of sleep apnea, a condition where people have trouble breathing while they sleep.

“There’s been a device for many years called a CPAP that many people are familiar, which is a positive pressure device that a ‘not-surgical’ treatment, but some people can’t use that for whatever reason,” said Dr. Noah Syme, head and neck surgeon at the University of New Mexico.

A big issue with the current treatment is that most people who wear it to sleep find it highly uncomfortable. Dr. Syme is hoping to change that with the newer “inspire therapy” device.

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“It’s all internal, and it’s portable. The battery does have to be replaced eventually, but it has a 10-year battery life,” said Dr. Syme.

After an eight-year wait, Dr. Syme performed the first two surgeries at UNMH in June. In the surgery, he made two incisions, one under the jawline and the other on the chest. He then put in a device that looks similar to a pacemaker into position, which charges a wire.

“We place the wire in the neck around a nerve, and it’s the nerve that moves our tongue that helps us protrude our tongue. Because one of the things that happens with sleep apnea is the tongue falls to the back of the throat, and that’s how that upper airway gets closed,” said Dr. Syme.

While this treatment was first introduced in New Mexico two years ago, the recipients were extremely limited due to insurance. Now, it will be accessible to a much larger crowd.

“For me, that’s sort of the reason why I’m at the university is so that we can treat everybody regardless of what their insurance status is,” said Dr. Syme.

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Potential patients do have to meet certain requirements including being diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea. Which is determined by a sleep study. You also need to meet a certain weight-to-height ratio or BMI. Finally, you must have already tried and failed the CPAP treatment.

“It’s important to me because it’s not just a new shiny thing to do, but it’s a thing that I think people really respond to well,” said Dr. Syme.

Dr. Syme stated his first patients have healed well and their devices will be activated on July 26, one month after the surgery.



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New Mexico

Heavy rain causes flash flood warnings across parts of New Mexico

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Heavy rain causes flash flood warnings across parts of New Mexico


Josh’s Saturday Evening Forecast

Very active weather has moved into New Mexico this afternoon. Storms will continue to drift off to the south and southwest as they continue to develop through this evening. Storms are capable of very heavy rain. A Flood Watch is in effect for much of New Mexico through Sunday night as well for a large portion of the state. Flash Flood Warnings have been issued as well for the South Fork and Salt Fire burn scars and surrounding areas. Burn scar flash flooding continues to be the biggest concern this weekend, but any strong thunderstorm could also drop heavy rain and cause flash flooding elsewhere.

Another active afternoon is likely on Monday as temperatures will be cooler across New Mexico. We will start to see some slightly drier air move in around the middle of next week, but thunderstorms will continue to develop each afternoon across parts of New Mexico.

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