By Marisa Demarco
—The New Mexico Compass published the first installment of this list last week. Here, now, is the biggest regional news of 2012, part dos:
Aid in Dying—Two doctors who care for the terminally ill filed a lawsuit seekig clarity in New Mexico’s assisted suicide law. As things stand, it’s a fourth-degree felony to help someone take his or her own life. But the lawsuit says that shouldn’t apply to a licensed physician providing treatment to a mentally competent person. Oregon and Washington have legalized what’s been termed “aid in dying.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops objects to the practice.
Developmental Disability Waiver—The state announced cuts to a state Medicaid program that provides physical therapy and day habilitation to people with disabilities. Families who make use of the program objected that they hadn’t been consulted about the changes to the program or allowed to give input. The program served 3,600 people and about 5,700 were on a waiting list. The cuts have long been feared.
Prison Phone Rates—In late 2011, Thousand Kites visited Albuquerque. The project advocates, among other things, that inmates have access to their families, decreasing the likelihood that they’ll return to prison. A year later, the Public Regulation Commission put a lid on outrageously high phone rates for calls at state prisons. Outgoing commissioner Jason Marks is pushing for such reforms nationally. There are 10 prisons in New Mexico: Six are state-run, and four are privately operated.
Gary Johnson Runs for President—A former New Mexico governor made headlines nationally during the 2012 election cycle. He made it onto the ballot in most states as a Libertarian candidate for the nation’s highest office. He billed himself as being more left than the left on social issues—gay marriage, marijuana legalization—and more right than the right on fiscal issues—tax structure, government expenditures. Though it seemed he had a lot of momentum in his home state, in the days leading up to the election, media speculated the race would be a close one. Turns out, it wasn’t. Johnson’s numbers took a hit nationwide, and he didn’t gather enough votes to guarantee the Libertarians a spot on the ballot next time around.
The DOJ on APD—Acronyms aside, the Department of Justice announcement that it would commence an investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department is arguably the most important story of 2012. The months wore on with APD shooting numbers rivaling those in New York City, but Albuquerque leaders largely ignored resulting public outcry. Turns out more than 43 percent of APD’s own officers supported a federal investigation. We’ll see if any substantial changes are made to the Police Oversight Commission or independent review officer position, both of which lack disciplinary authority. Similarly, the investigative grand jury process may undergo review: Since the process has been in effect, no officer-involved shooting has been ruled unjustified.