SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Lujan Grisham announces special legislative session, hopes to pass economic assistance

Michael McDevitt
Las Cruces Sun-News

SANTA FE - New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a special legislative session will convene next week with the aim of delivering some economic relief to businesses, tenants and workers hurt by restrictions enacted by the state to curb the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

"We want to get this relief out to New Mexicans," she said.

The news came during the governor's Thursday press conference, during which she urged New Mexicans to minimize interactions with others to stem the spread of the virus.

On Monday, a renewed shelter-in-place order went into effect until Nov. 30 statewide in response to a spike in cases, deaths and hospitalization numbers over the last several weeks.

On Thursday, the state reported its third straight day of record-shattering daily infection totals, with 3,675 new cases reported.

The governor said the special session will be held Tuesday and will hopefully last one day. She said she wants it to be entirely focused on economic assistance, and that $300 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money could be doled out.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a virtual press conference Nov. 19, 2020.

The last several days were spent coordinating with legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle, the governor said.

The governor said she'd want the money to go toward an extra $300 a week in unemployment assistance to workers, housing assistance and small business grants.

She said the economic assistance will hopefully help prevent people from having to make "false choices" between health and economic security.

"I'm trying to get us back to a place where we choose both by managing the pandemic," she said.

The governor said she hopes the state will be "pushing money out the door" the Monday following Thanksgiving.

Others are reading:Daughter of Hatch farmer who died of COVID-19 cherishes memories of dad

Lujan Grisham said a federal stimulus bill is still badly needed, as well as getting federally appropriated funding for virus testing to states, which includes New Mexico.

On a call earlier today as part of the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee, Lujan Grisham said she recommended to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris a regional approach to battling the pandemic.

Lujan Grisham is also one of five co-chairs on Biden's transition team.

The goal of economic assistance will be paired with the ongoing state public health order to reduce the surging coronavirus spread.

The two-week emergency public health order "reset" the shutdowns seen at the beginning of the pandemic's outbreak in New Mexico. Many retailers and other businesses — like tattoo shops, gyms and salons — have been deemed non-essential once again by the state and forced to close to in-person business transactions. Businesses deemed essential, like grocery and hardware stores, can only operate with 25 percent capacity or 75 people, whichever is fewer.

More:New Mexico raises ceiling on daily COVID-19 cases, reporting 1,500 Wednesday

The public health order runs through the Thanksgiving holiday next Thursday. The state is urging people not to travel for the holiday, and to only gather with people inside their immediate household to mitigate virus spread.

"A Zoom Thanksgiving is better than an intensive care unit Christmas," state Human Services Secretary David Scrase said.

The governor recommended people also try to support local businesses by ordering non-traditional Thanksgiving meals as takeout from local restaurants.

"There's been no meaningful familial celebrations as we've fought against this deadly virus," Lujan Grisham said. "This holiday ... (is) going to be hard."

Tuesday's special session will be the second held this year due to the pandemic. The first special session was held in June.

Michael McDevitt is a city and county government reporter for the Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, mmcdevitt@lcsun-news.com or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.