Q&A: Senate District 11 Candidate Linda M. Lopez
- NAME: Linda M. Lopez
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Self-employed
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Current state senator, District 11
- EDUCATION: B.A., College of Santa Fe (1987); MBA, College of Santa Fe (1992)
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?
The New Mexico Legislature must ensure that safety net programs are not drastically cut. The income tax cuts for higher incomes should be considered. Work with the governor to determine new sources of revenue.
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?
During the 2019 session, more money was given to K-12 education. The court ordered discovery this fall to take place. Martinez vs State focused on special education. Focus needs to be on strengthening special education instruction, professional development for teachers/staff, and providing a strong multi-cultural curriculum.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
The New Mexico Legislature and executive must revisit our tax structure for business and personal income.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I have voted for medical marijuana and continue to support it. With proper oversight and structure, I will support legalizing recreational marijuana.
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?
I voted for the current emergency powers being used during this pandemic. I applaud our governor and her team for their work to keep New Mexico in the lower percentages/numbers of COVID-19 cases.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I support a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.
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?
Qualified immunity was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. New Mexico currently has a commission that is reviewing how qualified immunity works in New Mexico. I am hopeful that they will have recommendations on how the Legislature can make some needed changes. Accountability for police/public officials for actions taken is necessary.
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?
I have supported and will continue to support a constitutional amendment to increase funding for 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?
This past special session in June 2020, I voted for an amendment and subsequent bill that will allow voters not affiliated with a major political party to participate in the primary election. The change will apply for the next scheduled primary election.
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 final funding for capital projects, whether funded through the Legislature or the governor should be made public. The Legislature has made some changes on how funding is provided for our public schools. The Legislature and governor need to work together on a system to timely fund necessary/emergency projects.
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 are reliant on tourism, federal government, local government and small business. COVID-19 has exposed areas where we can look to improve opportunity. Investing in bandwidth for internet access is the first step to helping all of our communities access business and educational opportunities.
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?
I support a moratorium on fracking. Water is precious and is diminishing during this drought. New Mexico must continue to support renewable energy mandates.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
The laws that New Mexico has to address crimes committed can always be changed to address crime issues. We must invest/support in community health, mental health, education systems, families in need of intervention. We must invest/support community policing and those who are leaving prison to reduce recidivism.
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? I support IPRA (the Inspection of Public Records Act). If there is a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) concern, that footage may be withheld if agreed to by all concerned.
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?
I believe we are competitive. We have different amenities to offer than our neighboring states.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
Yes, had a state tax lien due to non-payment of small business taxes incurred during my divorce in 2000-2001. Had to choose between putting food on table for my son and me or pay taxes. I chose the food. Tax lien was paid in full.
2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
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.