Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver this week rejected petitions aimed at overturning seven New Mexico laws, ranging from the creation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day to a ban on coyote-killing contests.
In each case, Toulouse Oliver – a Democrat and the state’s chief election officer – said she couldn’t authorize the collection of petition signatures because of technical problems with the paperwork, legal barriers or both.
Five of the proposed petitions, she said, are barred by the state Constitution’s prohibition on repealing laws that were enacted for “public peace, health or safety.”
Toulouse Oliver cited technical problems for blocking the other two proposals, which aim to annul new laws allowing New Mexico State University to open a branch campus in Mexico and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The proposed petitions, she said, had type that’s too small to read and failed to comply with legal requirements on the format of the petitions.
Toulouse Oliver said she would reconsider the petitions if they’re refiled in the correct format. She said she hadn’t made a decision on whether the petitions would comply with the constitutional prohibition on repealing laws for public peace, health or safety.
The proposed petitions were filed last month by conservative-leaning groups in eastern New Mexico: the Eddy County Patriot Group and the Roosevelt County Patriot Group.
The groups are planning to launch petition drives that would put perhaps dozens of newly enacted laws on the 2020 ballot for repeal. They submitted seven proposed petitions in late April.
But they must secure approval from the secretary of state before they can circulate the petitions for signatures.
And they would face a high bar – the collection of 70,000 signatures, including a certain amount in different counties – to secure a spot on the ballot.
The bills targeted for repeal include:
• Prohibiting contests to kill coyotes.
• Barring counties from enacting local “right-to-work” ordinances.
• Creating confidential voting procedures for domestic violence victims.
• Allowing the establishment of “fair chase” rules in hunting and fishing.
• Creating wildlife corridors aimed at reducing vehicle collisions.