The effects of a progressive shift in politics in New Mexico bring restricted gun access, raised taxes, and decriminalized medicinal marijuana possession. Read on for more.
New Laws Going Into Effect in New Mexico
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham decided to make progressive changes in the state of New Mexico by signing off multiple bills since the beginning of 2019. Some of them took effect on July 1.
Starting from July 7, taxes on vehicle sales will rise by 33%. A background check will be mandatory no matter if you plan on purchasing a vehicle or a firearm.
The most impactful change concerns the sales of firearms, especially in Walmart stores. All private gun sales and business gun sales will have to implement these changes, and some residents of New Mexico are not keen on this decision.
The Walmart representatives made a formal statement in which they said that Walmart is no longer considered to be equipped to handle these changes and continue selling guns since they surrendered their license to New Mexico authorities.
Eduardo Alvarado, one of the regular Walmart shoppers, stated that he was not able to understand these sudden changes. He added that Walmart is known for selling everything — from hunting to fishing licenses — so he is baffled why the matter of selling guns is brought into question.
Nevertheless, the Walmart officials stated that the last day for legally selling guns in New Mexico would be July 21. However, they added that the stores would still sell the ammunition which they have a license for.
Grisham made a formal statement in which she said that these tax hikes and progressive changes might seem sudden, but they were carried out for a good reason. She expects a windfall from the oil sector, and she hopes these tax hikes will help boost government spending as the industry is expected to provide the state with an additional $1 billion within the following year.
However, her opposers with the Republican Party beg to differ. Sen. Steven Neville stated that these changes were the usual signs of borderline socialism.
Grisham insists on these changes as she believes that the state of New Mexico is in urgent need of better control of funds and better spending provisions. Here is a glance at the new laws Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham plans on implementing in the following year.
As previously mentioned, this was one of the most critical points of the progressive changes. Even though many rural sheriffs and Republican lawmakers have criticized it, this law was implemented on July 1.
The most notable change was the introduction of mandatory background checks for all gun purchases and that included the transactions happening between friends or neighbors too. The only exception that will not require a thorough background check is the sale of an antique firearm.
New Mexico is also limiting the matter of who is allowed to carry guns — the person needs to be trained security personnel. Also, the new law strictly prohibits people who are under a permanent restraining order for domestic violence to ever take a firearm.
This caused massive rebellion, especially among the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association. The president of Cibola County, Tony Mace, compared this legislature to the law that prohibits texting while driving. He added that this background check is entirely unnecessary in the rural parts of New Mexico the same way it is essential in the metropolitan regions of the state.
Hector Balderas, the state attorney general, talked to the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association and warned them about the consequences if they choose not to enforce the new law.
The spokesman of Lujan Grisham, Tripp Stelnicki, stated that we were all aware of these political changes from the moment the Democratic campaign of Michelle Lujan Grisham started. He also added that responsible gun owners were looking forward to these changes, and no further rebellion was expected because of the implementation of the new law.
Trip Stelnicki also spoke about future tax increases. He stated that New Mexico had been trying to reduce its dependency on the oil and gas industry for decades but without success. This is precisely why they decided to go for these measures and increase the taxes on new and used vehicle sales from 3% to 4%. They are hoping to provide more funds for the critical road repairs in southeastern New Mexico.
Also, the state of New Mexico is introducing taxes on most internet retail sales, and it is rather high — a 5.1% tax starts on July 1. This doesn’t entail retail giants such as Amazon, who already collect the tax.
Another “first-timer” is the fact that e-cigarettes are being taxed at 50 cents per system cartridge, or, in other words — 12.5% on vaping liquids; the state tax on cigarettes is going up too — from $1.66 to $2 for a pack.
Government Spending Changes
Lujan plans on increasing general fund spending by 11% by the end of this year. With this money, she plans to improve the state education — an increase of school salaries by 6%, many bankroll initiatives that will help extend learning time for students, additional training for teachers, and the improvement of external support services.
Stelnicki believes that public education is at the heart of things, and as he added, this would result in the transformation that New Mexicans had long waited to see.
The government pushes the K-5 Plus program, and this program will extend elementary school years by five weeks. Stelnicki added that the government was in desperate need for more resources to fund the K-12 education since it was the state’s embarrassment and failure to provide an adequate education to minorities and impoverished students.
In May of 2019, the lawmakers approved around $930 million for public construction projects and an additional $390 million for the repair of public roads.
Criminal Justice Changes
A big part of these changes is a significant reduction of penalties for the possession of medicinal marijuana. A person is allowed to carry up to 14 grams of medicinal marijuana, and having more than that will be charged as a petty misdemeanor and will be followed by a $50 fine.
Another significant change was the introduction of a new law which obliges law enforcement agencies to process sexual assault kits within a 180-day deadline, using traces of DNA. It is also stated that the assault victims need to be informed about the deadline.
The popular practice of killing coyotes to see who can shoot the most of them in New Mexico is banned. Those contests are no longer allowed, and this part of legislation concerns wildlife regulations, and thus, this practice will be heavily punished.
However, as it was with the gun rights and voting procedures — many are opposed to this decision. The self-declared patriots favor a limited government and are vehemently opposed to these decisions.
These groups organized protests and signature petitions, especially after the implementation of the law banning killing coyotes in the state of New Mexico. Unfortunately, their goal — the voter referendum — turned out a failed rebellion.
Lastly, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham stated that she was trying not to be concerned with the reactions after the introduction of new state laws, but she couldn’t help but wonder why the rest of the government was trying to put a stop to this.
Lujan Grisham said that this was a unique set of circumstances and that it required a unique set of extraordinary efforts to improve the condition of New Mexico. She added that it seemed to her that they were trying to keep a productive process from occurring and that she would not allow these economic efforts to go to waste, no matter the attitude of the House of Republican Leadership.