Is there a worse idea in this time of Coronavirus than Pat Davis’s plan to “more fully” ban plastic bags?

Just a few days ago Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis told local media outlets that he was planning to “close a loophole” in the City’s plastic bag ban which took effect this year. Davis wants the Mayor to get rid of plastic bags that are thicker than 2.25 thousandths of an inch. The thicker bags were exempted from the law for the simple reason that they are considered “reusable.”

Instead of mandating “reusable” products, retailers (like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts) concerned about potential health implications of reusable items are banning them. Davis cares about politics whereas the retailers are doing what is sensible.

The problem in this age of Coronavirus is that Davis’ preferred reusable bags are KNOWN vectors for viruses in grocery stores. Don’t take my word for it, check out this report from Loma Linda University.

A 2018 report from Loma Linda University was based on an experiment in which researchers purposely “contaminated” a reusable bag with a harmless form of a virus. A single shopper then went through a typical grocery store and the research team tracked the spread of the virus.

Quoting directly from the executive summary of the report, “The data show that MS2 spread to all surfaces touched by the shopper; the highest concentration occurred on the shopper’s hands, the checkout stand, and the clerk’s hands.” The graphic below which was taken directly from the report reflects this.

Instead of pushing to make the plastic bag ban even more onerous and aggressive, Councilor Davis, Mayor Keller, and Bernalillo County Commission should ALL reconsider their bag bans…at least for the duration of this public health emergency.

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 179: Jason Espinoza – Small Business and 2020 New Mexico Legislature

On this week’s interview, Paul talks to Jason Espinoza. Jason is the New Mexico State Director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The organization and the interests of small businesses are in line with the Rio Grande Foundation, but what issues/bills did Jason and his members target this session?

Health care, in particular, is of concern to small business groups. What, if anything, happened in the Legislature on that and other small business issues?

One-on-One with Jason Espinoza

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Does Coronavirus justify mandatory paid sick leave?

With the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak there has been an increasingly-loud outcry for mandatory paid sick leave. This is of course a policy that the Rio Grande Foundation opposed when it was voted on in a 2017 referendum the City of Albuquerque. A proposal for mandatory paid sick leave was proposed in the 2020 Legislature, but it died without significant discussion or debate.

Should the US, New Mexico, or city/county governments impose mandatory paid sick leave? Before answering that question, it is notable that major corporations including Wal Mart, the Darden restaurant chain (Red Lobster, Olive Garden), and  McDonald’s have recently adopted new paid sick leave policies to deal with the outbreak.

The private sector, especially big corporations, are definitely reacting to the Virus and trying to protect their employees and customers alike.

As with so many economic regulations, we at the Rio Grande Foundation are not fans of blanket federal proposals. However, state level proposals to mandate paid sick leave during a public health emergency, including the current threat would appear to be a reasonable compromise. Attempts to shove mandatory paid sick leave through just because you have wanted that policy in place for years is simply overreach.

Assuming that there is a clearly-defined way to ensure that a public health emergency is not adopted indefinitely (as the left attempted with the food stamp waivers) it would seem like that is a reasonable compromise. We’ll see. Lots happening these days.

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 178: Economic Havoc in New Mexico, Freedom Index and HB 364

With everything going on in the US and the world right now including the Coronavirus panic, the Democratic primaries, plunging stock market, and oil price collapse, what does it all mean for New Mexico and its economy (not to mention the US economy)? Paul and Wally take a thoughtful and reasonable approach to the long list of issues playing havoc with the economy.

We are giving our “awards” to the best performers in our Freedom Index. Wally and Paul discuss who the top performers are.—

Gov. Lujan Grisham signs HB 364 (the union giveaway bill) despite concerns expressed by transparency/good government groups.

Las Cruces Public Schools hires left-wing activist to promote “equity:”

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RGF wins ethics complaint against Mayor Tim Keller over use of City website for Electoral Advocacy

In last November’s election the Rio Grande Foundation noticed that Mayor Tim Keller had put a message on the City’s website calling on voters to support the various bond measures and Democracy Dollars. The Rio Grande Foundation has had long standing concerns over government’s use of tax dollars to lobby the public for even more of our tax dollars. So, when we saw the complaint we filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Keller.

Recently, we WON! You can find the Agreement here. The text of the agreement is found in the image below. In it Keller admits he was wrong and that he will not use the website to campaign in the future. While this victory against Mayor Keller won’t completely solve the issue which is a problem at all levels of government, it is an important step towards limiting City of Albuquerque government’s use of your tax dollars to plead for even more of your money. We remain vigilant on this important issue.

The actual posting by Keller that was made on the City’s website prior to the November election can be found below:

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New Mexico’s legislative defenders of Freedom

Who in the Legislature voted in favor of freedom and personal responsibility in 2020? We tracked it all on our Freedom Index and you can find out for yourself by clicking the link and plugging in your address (if you don’t already know who your legislators are). While 2020 was another tough year in terms of government spending and taking our freedoms, here are a few of the points of light in the Legislature. We’ll be highlighting a few of the best and worst from this session in the days ahead.

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Las Cruces Public Schools Hires Left-wing Activist to Promote “Equity”

Is “equity” an inherently left-wing value? See definition below and then consider this announcement from the Las Cruces Public Schools in which the District has hired left-wing activist Sarah Silva (formerly the head of the left-wing activism group CAFé) to head up the District’s Equity Council.

CAFé is based in Las Cruces and, while their primary focus these days is fighting the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, their efforts have involved pushing Las Cruces to adopt its current minimum wage which is now $10.25.

It’s not that folks like Silva shouldn’t be able to work for government bodies like the School District. Rather, if you read Silva’s background and job description (available again here)  it is clear that Silva is simply taking her political activism from the private sector to the public sector. She’ll now be paid by New Mexico taxpayers to be a political activist. To say this kind of arrangement would not work for a conservative candidate is to state the obvious.

Of course, rather than obsessing about how much funding is allocated and to which racial or ethnic group, New Mexico schools would be better off adopting reforms like a student-centered school choice program, but that would actually require political courage.

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 177: Josh Blackman – U.S. Supreme Court Cases

On this week’s interview, Paul interviews law professor Josh Blackman. Blackman and Gessing discuss several important current and past legal issues involving the Supreme Court. Blackman’s book “100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know” is an important read for anyone interested in legal issues in the United States.

Paul also asks Josh about ObamaCare, guns and the Constitution, and whether President Trump will get to name additional justices to the Court if he wins the election.

Image result for josh blackman south texas

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New Mexico tribes consider impact of energy and land use

This story from the Santa Fe New Mexican caught my eye. Long story short, members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes in northeastern Arizona have long relied on coal to heat their homes are looking to other sources after last year’s closure of a coal mine.

We know that closing coal mines is a top priority of the environmental movement. But, as the article notes, this mine closure has made life more difficult for tribal members who, “In the first winter without it, are having to travel farther for coal, switching to firewood or even burning household items to stay warm.”

Burning “household items” for warmth is likely not very “green” (even less so than burning coal in a home stove for heat).

In other tribal news from the same are of our State, Navajo lawmakers opted to support a much smaller buffer around Chaco Canyon than had been supported by environmentalists and members of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation (or do I repeat myself?)

On an 18-1 vote the buffer size approved by the Tribe is half of that supported by the NM Congressional delegation. An inability to benefit from oil and gas (and mineral) leasing on the land was the primary reason for the Tribe’s decision.

Image result for navajo burning coal for heat

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