Thursday, August 30, 2012

AG's Role in Paseo/I25 Election Question

Much has been said, and sometimes misreported, about the role the Attorney General’s Office has played in Albuquerque’s election ballot question regarding the proposed Paseo del Norte/I25 interchange construction project.

First, let’s re-establish the facts.  On August 16, 2012, the Office issued a legal Opinion that concluded the following:  According to the New Mexico Election Code, a municipality can not propose a question on a the statewide election ballot.  Included in that conclusion was the statement that, “Nevertheless, a municipality may submit a question to voters of the municipality on a municipal election held on the same day as a general election.”

Then on August 27, 2012, the AGO further advised the Secretary of State that the applicable state statute, while allowing a concurrent city-state election, also requires that:  “...although a municipal election may be held concurrently with a general election, the two elections must remain separate and any incompatible provisions, such as voter identification must be independently dealt with...The municipality (City of Albuquerque) is responsible for determining that the concurrent election and any combined actions comply with the requirements of the ordinance or law that governs the municipality’s elections.”

Attorney General King says that it is important for the public to know we are not the kind of lawyers who just say "You can't do that" and leave it.  We have been working cooperatively with the Secretary of State, County Clerk and City Clerk and their legal counsel to find the appropriate and defensible way to hold a concurrent election on this issue in November.

Now, here’s the misreporting from an Albuquerque TV station:  “The attorney general now says a question to approve money for the Paseo del Norte-Interstate 25 interchange can appear on the November ballot as long as the city follows state election rules...At first the AG's office said the city issue wasn't allowed on a general election ballot, which is limited to county and state issues.”  No...the AG has always advised (see above) that a concurrent election is allowed.

But on Wednesday Attorney General Gary King announced it would be OK to add the city question to the ballot as long as the Albuquerque City Council waives the voter ID requirement.  No, the AG did not announce anything...the Secretary of State released an attorney-client memo...where we simply reiterated our earlier advice.

The August 16th Opinion and the August 27th memo are posted on the AGo website at:   


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

AG: NM Water Floating Away

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.  ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Attorney General King staffers this week briefed New Mexico lawmakers on the importance of his lawsuit against the federal government over the illegal transport of Rio Grande water to Texas.

Assistant Attorney General and director of AG King's Water, Environment, & Utilities Division Steve Farris told a group of NM legislators that the water currently flowing south in the Lower Rio Grande is being stolen from our state. The theft affects lawmakers' districts from Las Cruces to Chama.

An account of the legislative hearing, held Monday in T or C, was reported by the Las Cruces Sun News. Click on the link below for the story.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Paseo & Voter Cards...AGO Involvement

Two big issues involving the Attorney General’s Office have a lot of people talking.  It is important to clarify what the facts are in both issues.

First, the Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange rebuild project in Albuquerque.  I took a call from an upset person today who accused the Attorney General of trying to take away the right of Albuquerque residents to vote on whether they want to approve or shoot down a bond issue that would provide funding for the project.  Whoa Nellie!  The AG has no such power nor did the office’s advice specifically address this project at all.

Secretary of State Duran asked our office to examine whether it is legal to put a municipal question on a general election ballot.  Our attorney was not even informed that the ballot question referred to the Paseo del Norte matter. Our office determined that New Mexico law limits the general election ballot to questions that are “either statewide or countywide in application”...period. Clearly, the AG had no grand designs on subverting the process for funding the Paseo del Norte/I25 Interchange improvement project.  AG King has been stuck in that drivetime traffic nightmare himself quite a number of times...why would he want to throw a monkey wrench into something that could help countless Albuquerque area commuters?

Secondly, the issue of the Secretary of State’s postcards to NM voters in danger of losing their place on state voter rolls. Once again, we were asked for legal advice about language contained on the postcards in terms of whether it complied with state and federal voting law requirements.  It was our determination that the language would likely pass muster with the U. S. Department of Justice, which is in charge of such things.  Keep in mind, NM must be in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act, which is understandably of tantamount importance to AG King.  Just as important to the AG is ensuring that there is never any sort of voter suppression at the polls in New Mexico.  We believe the Secretary of State shares our goal and duty to help ensure fair elections in our state by making sure nobody cheats.

And the rest of the AGO story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

AG Supports Second Amendment Ruling

Attorney General King joined the AGs of several other states in supporting an amicus brief filed to uphold a decision by a Maryland federal judge invalidating a Maryland state law which severely restricted the ability of a law abiding citizen to obtain a concealed carry permit for a handgun.  In the decision Woolard v. Sheridan, a Maryland statute requiring residents to have a 'good and substantial reason' for obtaining a concealed carry permit was struck down after the judge found that it violates the Second Amendment.

No such restriction exists in New Mexico law.  AG King believes the Second Amendment right of an honest person to bear arms should not be infringed unless there is a compelling reason for the state to take such action.