February 17, 2022 was a great day in New Mexico as the legislative session ended with minimal harm (and even some success) and Gov. MLG FINALLY ended New Mexico’s statewide mask mandate. But, just because we (especially our children) at long last have facial freedom, doesn’t mean the work is done. Here are some tangible things that MUST be achieved:
- School unmasking: As of Monday morning, Feb. 21, several districts have not decided whether to make masks optional in schools. At this time Santa Fe, Bernalillo, and Los Alamos are among the school districts still mandating masks. Here is a list of what some districts are doing, but there are many NOT listed. We know that UNM and CNM are also requiring masks still, but NMSU is NOT. It is up to parents and activists in those areas to push to make masks voluntary. We will assist in those efforts in any way we can.
- Businesses unmasking their employees: One of the most notable aspects of mask policy is the way in which “the help” has often remained masked even while the customers (or in some cases rich celebrities) have not. While businesses have “the legal right” to impose mask mandates on their workers, the customers have the right to take their dollars elsewhere. And, more importantly, businesses tend to be very responsive to public pressure. Posting firm but factual messages on social media or sending messages to comment “mailboxes” can be a good way to encourage businesses to unmask their workers. Of course, in this tight job market workers can often put their own pressure on businesses to change their policies, but this will be a relatively long and painful effort. Consumers have the power to change businesses’ masking policies.
- Ending the Emergency (and executive control of emergencies): Just because masks are “over” doesn’t mean the COVID “emergency” is. New Mexico has been in a COVID emergency since March 10, 2020. It is time to end that emergency, but only Gov. MLG can do that (unless she is unelected). And that is the rub. While bipartisan reform legislation has been filed repeatedly in the New Mexico Legislature to limit the duration of single-person power, the Democrats in the Legislature have not seen fit to seriously consider them. Addressing this issue is a top priority of the Rio Grande Foundation and we need political leaders including a governor and legislators who will address the issue.