legislature 2010


V.19 No.16 | 4/22/2010

Ortiz y Pino

Hunting Elusive Budgetary Fat

Gov. Bill Richardson’s veto pen struck down the food tax and blew a giant hole in the state budget. So the need to destroy a mythical “budgetary fat” monster is sitting heavy on the shoulders of New Mexico lawmakers. Take it from me, a senator on the Senate Finance Committee.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

V.19 No.11 | 3/18/2010

Neverending Stories

Clearing the Air

The saga of North Valley residents battling a cement company in their neighborhood may have come to a close. On Wednesday, March 10, the city’s Air Quality Control Board approved a settlement agreement between the Greater Gardner Neighborhood Association and American Cement.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

V.19 No.9 | 3/4/2010

Unboring Bills That Passed

Promise.

HB 150: Hispanic Education Act

HB 165: Whistleblower Protection Act

HB 207: Interlock Fund Eligibility

HB 217: No Abuse in Resident or Care Provider Homes

SB 1: School Athlete Head Injury Safety Protocols

SB 18: Changes to State Investment Bodies

SB 26: Create NM Domestic Violence Commission

SB 28: State Contractor Contribution Disclosure

SB 40: Concealed Guns in Restaurants

SB 148: No Use of Gender for Health Insurance Rating

SB 152: College Student Lists to Credit Companies

SB 195: Sunshine Portal Transparency Act

SB 279: Colonias Infrastructure Act and Fund

For a complete list of everything that passed both chambers, click here.

V.19 No.8 | 2/25/2010
Making Sausage

Making Sausage

The Bills that Made it Out of the Grinder

As promised, here’s a list of bills that passed the House and Senate. Click on the links to read them for yourself. (To look at all the measures that were in play during the regular session, click here.)

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

Teachers Boycott the Albuquerque Journal

Looks like our local daily published an editorial saying the Legislature wasn’t cutting enough from the state’s budget. This prompted 200 teachers and school employees within the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers to drop their subscriptions to the paper. (Thanks for the tip, Tracy Dingmann).

The union’s news release says the Journal was cheerleading for a budget that would ax millions from education and dig into school employees’ paychecks.

The Legislature did not fix the shortfall the state is facing and will be going into a special session on Wednesday, Feb. 24. I’ll be there wearing my one professional, button-up shirt along with the New Mexico Independent to live-blog.

V.19 No.7 |
Eric Williams

Education Building in the Bosque Loses Funding

The session officially ended minutes ago, but because a budget fix hadn't been found for the state's $500 million shortfall, legislators will be seeing each other again soon.

But they did pass a measure this morning that takes money from projects around the state to try and shore up some reserves. They pulled in $130 million that way. I was just reading through this long list of projects that are losing their funds. And I found the Legislature is sucking back cash flow that was set to "plan, design, construct and equip an education building at the Rio Grande Nature Center state park in Bernalillo county."

Remember that story? A few weeks ago I wrote about some neighbors that were pretty bummed about that 5,700-square-foot building going into the Bosque.

Browse that list yourself. So many things are getting the ax.

V.19 No.7 | 2/18/2010

News Feature

Race Talk Boils in the House

Hispanic Education Act sparks hours of discussion

Roundhouse conversations on touchy social topics don't unfold all that differently from debates at the bar, in a classroom or over a dinner table.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

Letters

Regarding Sen. Eric Griego's "Democracy for Sale" [Opinion, Jan. 28-Feb. 3], I find myself equally terrified by the potential future of our voting process. The Supreme Court's decision regarding campaign finance could result in many voters choosing a Quarter Pounder over filet mignon.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

Toney Anaya (D), governor from 1983-1987. He was born in Moriarty, N.M., and ran for a Senate seat against Pete Domenici in 1978.

All Living Ex-Guvs Support This Bill

Think New Mexico says all the state’s former bosses are fans of this bill. Toney Anaya, Jerry Apodaca, David Cargo, Garrey Carruthers and Gary Johnson favor HB 118, which prevents lobbyists and big-time government contractors from pitching cash to political campaigns. Gov. Bill Richardson rallied for the reform in his State of the State address.

The legislation is based on a report called “Restoring Trust” published in October 2009 by the New Mexico think tank. The bill takes aim at pay-to-play practices. (We first wrote about it a few weeks ago as part of our legislative update column, Making Sausage.)

V.19 No.6 | 2/11/2010

Treatment or Jail for Drug Users?

Carolyn Carlson penned a great article this week on Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas bill that would give drug users a treatment option instead of a jail sentence.

Among the key arguments in favor of this measure: It would save a lot of money. Possession charges can result in 18 months in the slammer. It can cost $22 million a year to jail nonviolent drug offenders. It only costs about $6,500 to treat them. All of that info comes from the Legislative Finance Committee.

One argument against the legislation: Would addicts really be motivated to attend a treatment program, or is this just a way of letting them off easy?

What do you think?

V.19 No.4 |

Whistleblower Protection Act Passes Senate

Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort's Whistleblower Protection Act, one of the ethics reform measures the AG's Office is pushing for, made it through the Senate.

The measure protects workers from retaliation by bosses if they report unethical or illegal behavior. It covers all government employees. It's a good companion for the proposals to create an ethics commission. What will the commission investigate if people don't feel comfortable reporting possible violations?

Sen. Michael Sanchez asked why it hadn't been sent to the Senate Finance Committee, since "that's the way things go down here" sometimes. (The domestic partnership bill was sent to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday. And that might be the "kiss of death," because it's a third committee in a 30-day session.)

The Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in 2007 unanimously by the Senate but was vetoed by the governor. This year, the measure passed the Senate initially on a 40-0 vote. But then Sens. Michael Sanchez and Phil Griego stood up and asked to have their votes changed. So it ended up passing 38-2.

V.19 No.3 |

Pluto is a Planet, New Mexico is a State

Right now, I'm in the House of Representatives. Among the funnier memorials is HJM 17 from Rep. Giannini. It requests "that the people of the United States and elsewhere recognize New Mexico as the 47th state of the United States of America."

There's another from Rep. Gutierrez proclaiming Feb. 18, 2010 as "Pluto is a Planet in New Mexico Day" in honor of the 80th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh.

You can view the agendas for the House and Senate every day here.

V.19 No.3 | 1/21/2010
Making Sausage

Making Sausage

It's that time again. Our legislators made their way to the Roundhouse for a 30-day session that began Tuesday, Jan. 19. It's a short one, and they have to find a way to tame a gnarly budget. It's likely the cash shortfall will eat up most of their time and attention this year. Here's a look at that issue and some of the other measures on the Legislature’s plate in 2010.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

V.19 No.1 | 1/7/2010

Council Watch

No-Bid Business

The Council clicked its way through business at the Monday, Jan. 4 meeting. New Councilors Michael Cook and Dan Lewis are still keeping pretty quiet but are starting to ask questions and express opinions.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]