Senator Mimi Stewart, President Pro Tem, NM State Senate

Air Dates: February 6-8, 2021

THIS WEEK: Senator MIMI STEWART, D-AlbuquerquePresident Pro Tem of the New Mexico State Senate

-2021 Legislative Session Special Challenges-Education & Early Childhood Education Funding-Supporting COVID-19 Responses On All Levels

This week’s guest on NM PBS-TV's REPORT FROM SANTA FE is Senator Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, who was recently elected the President Pro Tem of the New Mexico State Senate. Senator Stewart has served as a member of the NM Senate representing District 17 since December 2014. She served as Majority Whip in the Senate from 2018-2020.

In January 2021, she was elected to serve as the President Pro Tem of the New Mexico State Senate. Stewart previously served in the New Mexico State House of Representatives, representing District 21 from January 1995 until her appointment to the Senate.

Stewart elaborates on the special challenges of this 2021 legislative session because of the public health protocols required by the pandemic – the necessity of virtual (remote, Zoom) Floor sessions and committee meetings, making sure the public has access to the legislative processes and making sure all participants follow the public health guidelines of mask-wearing, social distancing, and regular COVID testing. This session is also unusual in that 25% of the Senate is composed of newly-elected members.

Education is one of Stewart's top priorities based on her long experience as a former Special Education Teacher in the Albuquerque Public Schools. She details some of the important education legislation being debated in this year's session.

Other hot topics Stewart approaches in this in-depth interview are environmental issues, the major emphasis in the legislature supporting COVID responses on all levels, early childhood education funding, and the need to transition from a citizen legislature to a paid legislature.

Senator Stewart describes the power infrastructure set up in the NM Senate and details the complex role of the President Pro Tem. Among the responsibilities of the President Pro Tem are the choice of the Senate committee chairs and members and Senator Stewart explains some of the elements that go into those crucial choices.

QUOTE:"The Senate has a big response right now to COVID. We are going to increase in the working family tax credits, an increase in the earned income tax rebate. We are going to have $600 in the hands of everybody who doesn’t make $15 an hour. We are increasing loans to small businesses, interest-free for the first three years...So we are trying to push out some help to people - frontline workers, low-income workers - all are working for all of us."-- Senator Stewart