New Mexico cuts stalls amid tribal discord

SANTA FE, NM (AP) – A state Senate redistribution plan is in limbo amid a deadlock over Native American political priorities and lawmakers’ efforts to avoid competitive incumbent twinning in the next election .

The Senate called off a floor sitting Monday amid discussions between lawmakers and indigenous tribal leaders.

States must redraw their parliamentary and legislative districts every 10 years to reflect new population numbers, and New Mexico lawmakers are in the midst of a special legislative session on redistribution.

A broad coalition of Native American communities supports a plan to bolster the voting age, Native American majorities in three State Senate districts in northwestern New Mexico, and to strengthen strong minority-Native voting blocs in two additional districts.

Left intact, the proposal would leave Republican state Senator Joseph Sanchez de Bosque outside the boundaries of his current district, potentially to compete in a neighboring district against the GOP Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca de Belen.

Leading state lawmakers, including Senate Democratic President Mimi Stewart, are supporting amendments that deviate from the Native American consensus proposal in a bid to avoid multiple incumbent twinning.

“We have really tried to maintain the majority of the Indigenous consensus map, but we have addressed the matching issues and the issues with drastic changes to our seats,” Stewart told a Senate panel on Sunday.

State Senator Harold Pope of Albuquerque urged his colleagues not to tamper with the Native American redistribution plan.

“It has been a Herculean task for our Native American communities to develop this consensus,” he said. “They worked with us, let’s honor him.”

Amendments that deviate from Native American recommendations were approved by a 7-2 committee vote on Sunday with bipartisan support, despite categorical objections from representatives of tribal governments.

New Mexico is home to 23 federally recognized Native American communities. Tribal chiefs seek to strengthen Native American influence in the political process amid dissatisfaction with public education, access to basic household infrastructure, and economic opportunities.

Regis Pecos, former Cochiti Pueblo governor and advocate for Indigenous education initiatives, urged lawmakers to honor tribal recommendations on redistribution, noting New Mexico’s leading example in enshrining tribal consultation requirements in state law – as well as previous laws and policies that have harmed Native Americans.

“I just want to reflect on the long history of the intentional enactment of laws that have banned the speaking of our languages ​​in our schools, the ban on the free exercise of religion, laws and policies disconnecting us from our homelands,” said Pecos. . “You provided consultation within the framework of the statutory framework. “

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