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Politics Notebook: Diverse team of NM lawmakers drafts sex harassment rules

SANTA FE – An eight-member working group tasked with coming up with potential changes to the New Mexico Legislature’s sexual harassment policy has begun its work.

The group consists of four House members and four Senate members – five women and three men – and was formed in response to a number of recent sexual misconduct allegations against male politicians and entertainment industry figures.

Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Belen, who has called for the Legislature to overhaul its policy and create an independent process for investigating allegations, said Wednesday that the working group is still in its fact-finding phase.

It will then make recommendations next week to legislative leaders about possible changes to the harassment policy, which was last revised in 2008.

In addition to Fajardo, the other House members are Reps. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque; Liz Thomson, D-Albuquerque; and Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces.

The four Senate members are Sens. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque; Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants; James White, R-Albuquerque; and Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs.

LT. GOV. RACE: State Sen. Howie Morales has jumped into New Mexico’s topsy-turvy race for lieutenant governor.

Morales, a Silver City Democrat who sought the party’s nomination for governor in 2014, said he would bring name recognition and a strong support network in southern New Mexico to the race.

“After hearing from countless people across the state urging me to get into this race, I am confident I will bring a combination of energy and experience to the Democratic Party ticket in 2018,” Morales told the Journal.

His decision to enter the race came just one day after another Democratic candidate, state Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque, withdrew from the contest due to decade-old allegations of sexual harassment.

A former special education teacher and a state senator since 2008, Morales has been a leading critic of some of Gov. Susana Martinez’s education initiatives, including teacher evaluations and an A-F school grading system.

He came in fourth in the 2014 race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but won the largest share of delegate votes during that year’s Democratic pre-primary nominating convention.

Other Democrats running for the $85,000-a-year job next year are Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett; former state House Majority Leader Rick Miera of Albuquerque; Eagle Nest resident Jeff Carr, a former member of the Public Education Commission; and David McTeigue of Rio Rancho, a juvenile probation officer.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales also said Wednesday that he’s considering entering the race.

Dan Boyd: