Q&A: Senate District 10 Candidate Katy Duhigg

  • NAME: Katy Duhigg
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Attorney
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Election-protection and consumer-protection attorney, former Albuquerque city clerk, former House Judiciary Committee analyst, former election protection coordinator for Common Cause New Mexico, former member of Bernalillo County Code of Conduct Review Board and Bernalillo County Property Tax Valuation Protest Board, former executive secretary and governance counsel member of RFK Charter School.
  • EDUCATION: J.D. from University of New Mexico School of Law in 2008, B.A. from University of Oregon in 2002
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: KatyDuhigg.com

What steps should the Legislature take to ensure New Mexico has a balanced budget amid falling oil prices and an economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus outbreak?

Put some projects on hold, create a bold economic stimulus package to provide sustained support for small businesses and put people back to work. Focus immediately on economic diversification and tax reform. Streamline expenditures to eliminate waste and stretch our existing dollars further.

What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide a sufficient education to all students?

The Legislature is obligated to provide funding to ensure our children receive a quality education, especially those with disabilities, who have been largely left out of the discussion. The Legislature must be involved in assuring the money is being spent wisely and that there is a means to assess improvement.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?

We need to reform our GRT code to help our small businesses compete, encourage entrepreneurship, and level the playing field between New Mexico and out-of-state companies. One step is to address GRT pyramiding, the ultimate burden of which is borne by New Mexico households, and is a hidden tax with regressive implications.

Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?

I support the legalization of adult-use of marijuana, along with responsible regulation. This is a reasonable means of diversifying our economy, as long as appropriate safeguards are in place and that all stakeholders, from law enforcement to existing medical marijuana providers, have a seat at the table.

Do you believe changes should be made to the emergency powers held by a governor during a pandemic or other time of crisis. If so, do you believe such powers should be expanded or reduced and in what specific ways?

Governors need to be able to respond to emergencies, but the Legislature must ensure that these powers do not undermine the separation of powers vital to our government. We should maintain vigilant oversight and should ensure that the scope of any governor’s emergency powers are not driven by partisanship, or vulnerable to abuse.

Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?

I support getting rid of this outdated law and keeping this very personal decision between a woman and her health care provider, without politicians interfering. A strong majority of New Mexicans believe abortion must remain safe and legal, regardless of their own moral views on abortion.

Do you support or oppose enacting a new state law that would allow police officers and other public officials to be sued individually by abolishing the defense of qualified immunity?

We need to look carefully at qualified immunity and make sure we balance the rights of police officers, most of whom are decent, honest people who do some of society’s most dangerous work, with the need to improve government accountability, encourage better official conduct, and give victims of government abuse their day in court.

In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and child care assistance, and created a new early childhood trust fund. Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to increase funding for early childhood services?

We must address our current educational crisis. We have a critical responsibility to change the course of our state. I do not think that we should do anything to threaten the corpus of the fund, but I do support using a larger percentage of the interest to fund early childhood services.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary system? Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

I support opening primaries to independent and decline to state voters, who should not be excluded from any part of the political process. I also support public financing of elections to reduce the influence of private money in politics, and other reforms that ensure that elections serve people over politics.

Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding? Should each legislator be required to disclose which projects he or she funded?

The public has a right to know how their tax dollars are spent. I support full transparency on how capital outlay is funded, what projects are being funded, and by whom. A merit-based evaluation of capital outlay is a common-sense way to ensure that public funds are spent efficiently and responsibly.

New Mexico is highly reliant on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent oil boom and bust cycles. What steps should the state take to diversify its economy and revenue base?

We need to be an inviting state for businesses, without paying people to come here. We need to develop and implement a strategic plan for growing other industries (value-added agriculture, health care services, etc.) to grow and stabilize non-fossil fuel sectors while still funding education, health care, public safety, and other critical services.

Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking? And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates as a way to address climate change concerns?

Fracking is so pervasive in New Mexico’s oil and gas industry that a moratorium could lead to devastating cuts to education budgets. It will take time to diversify our economy, and we need to make sure that energy companies are part of that process and make it a positive and profitable endeavor for all involved.

What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?

Getting crime under control means keeping violent criminals locked up, but we also need to redirect non-violent criminals and make them productive members of society by holding them accountable while diverting them to behavioral health services, addiction treatment, and job training programs.

Do you support or oppose the public’s right to inspect footage taken by cameras worn by law enforcement officers? Under what circumstances, if any, should police video be withheld from the public?

Body camera recordings are public records, and should be subject to public inspection, with appropriate exceptions for footage containing communications with undercover officers or informants, medical or psychological treatment, victims of domestic or sexual abuse, homicide, suicide or accidental death, unless the harm was caused by law enforcement.

Members of New Mexico’s business community contend some state laws and regulations need changing so the state can better compete with Texas and Arizona when it comes to attracting companies. What steps do you believe should be taken to improve New Mexico’s economic competitiveness?

We need to reform our GRT code, review governmental regulations to determine use and usefulness, create a one stop shop for business licensing that encourages entrepreneurship, have licensing costs that are on par with surrounding states (particularly for growing industries), and eliminate the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

No

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