Thursday, January 28, 2021

GOP Rep Goes Pro-Choice And Gets An Earful, Plus: Biden Oil Order Won't Bite Yet, Senate Committee Puts MLG On Leash And A Blog Misfire 

Rep. Anderson
Since President Trump departed and left in his wake a GOP civil war, the binoculars have been out looking for any breaks with him among NM R's. So far there are none but there is an unexpected and rare surprise on the GOP side of the aisle. 

Roswell State Rep. Phelps Anderson caused jaws to drop Wednesday when he joined with Dems on the House Health and Human Services Affairs Committee and voted for the bill that would remove an outdated anti-abortion statue from the books, the same one a Senate committee approved earlier this week. 

The bill, a premier piece of progressive legislation, is expected to easily win approval. However, it is ardently opposed by pro lifers who say its repeal opens the door to abortion up to the time of birth.

The bill passed the committee 8 to 3 with Anderson voting with the Dems and causing the flame throwers to go off. The pro-life crowd immediately called on him to reverse his vote when the measure goes to the full House. There was no response from Anderson. 

Anderson 69, is serving his second two year term and could face a GOP primary challenge next year over the vote or maybe he is done with Santa Fe and won't seek re-election. That was the take of Chuck Abbott commenting on the NM Alliance for Life page:

He must be getting ready to retire because votes like this will seal his fate as far as a re-election bid is concerned, especially in this district. Bad move morally and politically! 

Anderson is the scion of legendary oilman Robert O. Anderson. In Robert O's 2007 NYT obit he was described as often being "unpredictable." Seems Phelps is following in dad's footsteps. That's not a quality endearing him to pro-lifers but it is making GOP politics a lot more interesting.


Speaking of oil, President Biden's executive order order pausing oil and gas permitting for 60 days on federal lands--including those in oil rich SE NM--is not going to have any immediate financial impact on the state. 

In fact, the oil boys have been stockpiling drilling permits anticipating such a move and have enough to keep the oil flowing for several years. Now if the moratorium became permanent that could be another story. 

Predictably, the Roundhouse budget hawks were quick to use the Biden action to renew their justification of stashing oversized state reserves of $1.7 billion during a pandemic. Nice try, hawks, but you stretched your wings on that one.


The Governor and the legislature are going to tangle this session about her broad powers under the Public Health Act that she has wielded during the pandemic. But skirmishing over power is already underway and so far it is not good news for the Fourth Floor. 

The pocket veto, an option available to all governors, may be on its way out thus strengthening the hand of the legislature. As it stands, a Governor has 20 days after the end of a legislative session to act on bills approved during a session's final three days. If the bill is not signed or vetoed it is automatically vetoed.

The Senate Rules Committee says that's not transparent enough and voted 8 to 1 to do away with the pocket veto. 

That had MLG burning up. To make maters worse the bill is sponsored by ABQ Dem Sen. Jacob Candelaria who has been launching verbal bombs against MLG since he had a run-in with law enforcement called to his home after he complained of receiving threats on social media. But the Fourth Floor got ahead of themselves in responding to their defeat by singling out Candelaria:

It’s unclear what the resolution is attempting to express beyond the animus of its sponsor. The governor has pocketed bills--in accordance with the authority afforded her by the state Constitution — sparingly and her veto messages have been thorough.

It would be nice for the Guv if it were indeed only the animus of Candelaria who was to blame but that 8 to 1 vote signals a bipartisan effort to strip her of pocket veto power. Senate Majority Leader Wirth was the only one to side with her but unable to enforce any discipline.

The pocket veto vote, the bipartisan move to curtail the Guv's power under the health act and the play to take away her authority to decide when public schools close during a pandemic reveals a legislature more emboldened than in MLG's first two years. Could that have something to do with her failure to land a coveted cabinet position in the Biden administration? 


We had a misfire on the Wednesday blog and readers were quick to pounce. Virginia Scharff writes:

I generally read your column in the morning. Wednesday I got the rudest possible awakening. Did you really toss off a flippant remark that any delay in opening NM schools would incite parent protests that would make the insurrectionists at the US Capitol “look like cub scouts?” Do you think we should just laugh off a violent mob attempt to occupy the Congress and take hostage or murder our representatives? Do you care so little about our democracy or, for that matter, about the rule of law? I’m appalled. You should retract and apologize. 

Robert Levy writes:  

As you know, I read your blog religiously. You are smart, insightful, cogent and clear; rarely dumb. Your comment about 1/6 protesters looking like cub scouts when the protests begin here was the exception that proved the rule; dumb. First, those were not protesters. Language is important. Second, the message was thought-less, plain dumb. Peace, Robert

Mea Culpa. We've avoided it for a while, but will now be forced to seek redemption for our errant ways  by subjecting ourselves to the traditional punishment of ten lashes with a wet noodle. To those doing the lashing, please try not to leave any scars.

We welcome your comments, criticism, insights, unique recipes and existential angst. Thanks for stopping by. 


ABQ Dem Westgate/South Valley State Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero is the latest candidate to announce for the expected ABQ US House vacancy after Rep. Haaland is confirmed as Secretary of Interior. She made her announcement here

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