A federal judge ruled that an Albuquerque ordinance limiting panhandling on city streets is unconstitutional.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the city in early 2018 on behalf of a homeless woman, two people who donate money from their vehicles and a woman who passes out flyers to drivers after the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance was passed. The measure prohibits anyone from soliciting drivers while standing in travel lanes, medians and interstate entrance and exit ramps. The measure also prohibits “any physical interaction or exchange” between pedestrians and motorists.
Last week, Judge Robert Brack of US District Court in Albuquerque issued an opinion calling the ordinance “an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.” The case was supposed to go to trial next month, but the judge decided to grant partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs instead. He said that some subsections of the ordinance violated freedom of speech, but called the ban on standing in travel lanes a “valid restriction.”
A representative from Mayor Tim Keller's office stated that the city has not decided whether it wishes to appeal the decision.
ART Bus Training Begins
Earlier this week, bus drivers began training for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit, and the city is reminding drivers that it is illegal to cross the bus lane.
According to KRQE, around 225 drivers began training on the use of the city's ART buses this week. Part of the training included learning how to navigate the bus route on Central Avenue. The new traffic rules along the route bar drivers from crossing the double white lines of the bus lane.
But law enforcement officials say a number of motorists have been violating these rules. Those drivers are receiving warnings from police, but when the ART training period ends later this year, authorities say they'll begin issuing citations. Those citations will cost drivers $80.
Officials say the law also applies to bicyclists, skaters, those riding scooters and anyone operating any other type of vehicle.
Governor's Approval Rating Low
A new poll found that less than half of New Mexico voters approve of the governor's job performance.
Last week, Morning Consult updated its second quarterly report of 2019 on the nation's governors and US senators. The site conducted 487,624 surveys with US voters between April 1 and June 30 that asked participants to judge the performances of their Governor, US Senators and House members. According to the poll, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has an approval rating of 44 percent and a disapproval rating of 43 percent. Of those polled, 13 percent had no opinion. This is a marked decline from the first quarter, which found that 41 percent of voters approved of her job performance, 33 percent disapproved and 28 percent had no opinion.
The state's two US Senators had similar approval ratings, but fared better with their disapproval ratings. Tom Udall had a 44 percent approval rating and 33 percent disapproval rating while Martin Heinrich had a 42 percent approval rating and 36 percent disapproval rating.