Local Viewpoints

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  Commentary:  Jeffery Isbell’s slanted op-ed in Sunday’s Las Cruces Sun-News was an interesting read. The article begins with a cleverly worded assault on those of us working in Las Cruces toward social change by implying that, like Mr. Isbell, we have helicoptered in to change the dynamic of our beloved city.

  Commentary: The number of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico dropped to 97 last year from 110 in 2014, according to a just-released census by federal and state biologists. The troubling decline, which follows five years of annual population increases, was likely driven by the illegal killings of many of the 13 wolves found dead and the 11 wolves missing, as well as a low survival rate among the dozens of pups born last spring.

Sanchez Reflects On 2016 New Mexico Legislative Session

Feb 18, 2016
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Commentary: During the 2016 Legislative Session, Senate Democrats worked – frequently in a bipartisan way – to do what is best for the people, while being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars.

Republican Senate Minority Leader: “Most Important Things Got Done”

Feb 18, 2016
Senator Stuart Ingle - (R)

  Commentary:  The 2016 Legislative Session ended with many priorities completed, including balancing a $6.22 billion budget to run state government next year despite drastically lower-than- expected state revenues; and the legislature came together on a compromise  fix to the New Mexico driver’s license problem.

Nachison: A Vote For Bernie Is A Vote For America

Feb 18, 2016

Commentary:  The US has entered a period where opposite forms of systemic change are mainstreamed; know-nothingism also expands.  The social democracy of the last 80+ years is on one side; a possible theocracy and fascism is on the other.  We have lost so much; the two, today, have little in common.  Many modern democrats, even understanding a push towards a "free” economy, could support items in the 1952 and 1956 Republican platforms.  Today’s republicans today reject them completely and utterly - true red flags. 

New Mexico Passes Bill To Increase Local Control Over School Breakfasts

Feb 18, 2016

Commentary:  Elementary schools that feed students breakfast will have more local control over where and when the breakfast will be served to hungry students if Senator Gay Kernan’s  bill becomes law.  The bill passed both the Senate and House and is on its way to the Governor’s Office for action.

Currently, schools that participate in the “Breakfast After the Bell Program” are required to supply breakfast to students after the start of the instructional day in the classroom.

New Mexico Passes Bill Designed To Boost Geothermal Energy

Feb 18, 2016

Commentary:  Senator Ron Grigg’s SB 223 passed both Senate and House is on its way to the Governor for action.  SB 223 is a  bill that reorganizes and cleans up the state’s current laws concerning geothermal. It creates the Geothermal Resources Development Act (Act) and repeals the Geothermal Resources Conservation Act.

“New Mexico is rich in geothermal resources, my bill will help to simplify the development of this “green” resource and encourage its use,” Senator Griggs said. “It is a good bill for New Mexico and opens the door for more economic development.”

New Mexico Passes Bill Allowing ATVs On Paved Public Roads

Feb 18, 2016

Commentary: SB 270a allows all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and  off-highway vehicles (OHVs) to drive on paved roads up to 55 mph unless prohibited by local authorities.  This has a local option where local entities could opt in.  Many Mountain States have similar laws. It passed the Senate this morning and the House passed it with the “opt in” amendment. The amended bill will return to the Senate for concurrence.

Currently,  ATVs are allowed to only cross a public paved road, not to travel on one, otherwise they could be cited by authorities.

Thompson: Allow Volunteers To Help Migrant Children

Feb 18, 2016

  Commentary:   The housing of unaccompanied youth from Central America at the Holloman Air Force Base is of great interest to me and the members of CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement) and the Social Action Committee of my church.  We wanted to collect Spanish-language books, clothing, and supplies for art and writing activities to donate to the young people.  We also wanted to visit the children to provide both educational and fun activities to make them feel more welcome and unafraid while they wait to be processed to safe homes.

Just passed the Senate and is headed to the Governor's desk. 

Commentary:   According to the FIR House Bill 192 allows municipalities and counties to use lodger’s tax revenues to provide airlines with minimum revenue guarantees that would entice them to offer air service to currently underserved communities. This bill would also allow a municipality or county to issue revenue bonds secured by future lodger’s tax proceeds.

New Mexico Legislators fear disclosure of spending on public works

Feb 17, 2016
Trip Jennings-New Mexico In Depth

Commentary:  Some state lawmakers fear that making public how they divvy up money each year for public infrastructure projects might harm their re-election chances.

Others complain of being bullied by the media. Still others say making public what lawmakers spend on projects each year would make reporters’ jobs too easy.

It’s been an interesting session walking the hallways of the Roundhouse and hearing how state lawmakers respond when asked to make public how they each spend state dollars on public projects.

New Mexico Senate Passes Bill To Expand Film Tax Credit

Feb 17, 2016

Passes Senate 28-5, On to House.   Commentary:  

The State Senate passed Senator Lisa Torraco’s bill to create more jobs in the film industry in New Mexico, for New Mexicans.

“This bill is all about employing more New Mexicans in the film industry,” Senator Torraco said. “When this bill becomes law, we expect the film industry to expand even more in the state, creating 50 to 150 new jobs for our residents.”

New Mexico Senate Bill Would Allow ATVs To Travel On Paved Roads

Feb 17, 2016

Senate Passed today 34-7, on to House.   Commentary:

Sb 270 allows all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and  off-highway vehicles (OHVs) to drive on paved roads up to 55 mph unless prohibited by local authorities.  This has a local option to allow it or not.  Many Mountain States have similar laws.

Currently,  ATVs are allowed to only cross a public paved road, not to travel on one, otherwise they could be cited by authorities.

Study Will Review New Mexico PRC Staff Expertise

Feb 17, 2016

 

Passed Senate 38-0, Passed House 63-0   Commentary:

 

Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville sponsored a bill that requests the Legislative Council to contract for an independent study of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). The study is to determine if the commission has advisory staff with the required expertise to assist and advise the commissioners to make fully informed and proper decisions in the public interest on complex cases.

 

Senator Neville said an example of a complex PRC case filing is in the Farmington area.  He said the

Paterson, New Jersey / Matthew Stagliano, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA.)

 Commentary:  Today, community leaders, parents, students, and educators “walked in” to more than 900 schools in more than 30 cities as part of the nationwide walk-in movement organized by the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools (AROS), of which the National Education Association is a partner. Parents, educators, and students gathered in front of their schools before the beginning of the school day for rallies in support of the public schools all our children deserve.

Dental Health for Kids Begins with Parents

Feb 17, 2016

 In New Mexico and throughout the country, February 2016 is being celebrated as “Children’s Dental Health Month” to emphasize that the oral health is just as important as physical and mental health. A healthy mouth allows a child to be free from pain thus they can attend school and be productive adults in later life.

The mouth is a window into what's going on in the rest of your body, often serving as a helpful vantage point for detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease — a disease that affects or pertains to your entire body, not just one of its parts.

  Commentary:   The Center for Western Priorities today released a new report, The Wrong Side of History: 100 Years of Opposition to Our Nation’s Natural Treasures. The report examines past and present opposition to land conservation in the United States, demonstrating that the often colorful language used by opponents of new parks and monuments has changed little over the last century.

We Cannot Quit on Capital Outlay Reform

Feb 16, 2016

Commentary:  Over the past few years, reform of New Mexico's capital outlay system has received more and more attention.  There is little doubt that our system, particularly compared to other states, needs fixing.  We are the only state that expects the legislature to approve a capital outlay bill without any system for planning, vetting or selecting projects.  Instead, we operate in a free-for-all system that fails to make the most of our limited infrastructure dollars.

Udall Introduces Legislation to Ensure Migrant Children Receive Due Process

Feb 16, 2016
U.S. Senator Tom Udall D-NM

  Commentary:    Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that he has introduced legislation to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children seeking asylum in the United States receive legal representation and a fair hearing. The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act will address concerns that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is improperly rushing recently arrived asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras through the immigration court process.

Goodman: Serious Problems In County Government

Feb 15, 2016

 Commentary: Imagine someone wants you to invest in a big company. 

“Who's your internal auditor?” you ask.

“Milton was, but he kept reporting embarrassing facts. We fired him. Some allegation of misconduct.”

“Who replaced him?”

“A very experienced lady, two or three years ago, but she took one look and quit within a week.”

“Who replaced her.”

“No one yet.”

“Well who's your risk manager?”

 Commentary: The State Senate on Sunday evening voted down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana on a 17-24 vote. Before the final vote, however, the Senate approved an amendment that would have raised the legal age to use marijuana from 21 to 25 years of age.

Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released the following statement on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia:

"Justice Scalia was a dedicated jurist and public servant. For nearly 30 years, he served the Supreme Court with clarity and deep passion for the law. My thoughts and prayers are with Justice Scalia's wife, Maureen, and his family during this difficult time.

New Mexico Republican Leader Lauds Driver's License Compromise

Feb 13, 2016
Senator Stuart Ingle - (R)

  Commentary:  The New Mexico State Senate passed a compromise bill to resolve the driver’s license  issue confronting the state for a number of years; and the bill meets requirements of what the federal government is requiring of all 50 states to better protect the nation.

Full Senate Approves New Mexico Driver's License Compromise

Feb 13, 2016

  Commentary:  The New Mexico Senate tonight unanimously approved House Bill 99, as amended, an historic, bipartisan compromise to bring the state’s driver’s licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID requirements. The bill now advances to the House of Representatives for concurrence with the Senate’s amendments. The measure would make New Mexico driver’s licenses compliant with the federal REAL ID Act if it is approved by the House, and signed by the Governor.

Senate Passes Bill To Return Tax Overpayments

Feb 13, 2016

Commentary: SB 166 allows a New Mexico taxpayer to take a tax credit the following tax year for taxes on personal income that were overstated and overpaid.  The bill passed the Senate 37-0 and now goes to the House.

“People have lost out on overpayment of their state taxes, now we will fix that,” bill sponsor Senator Sue Wilson Beffort said.

The overpayment of taxes could have resulted from overstated amounts of  such things as personal income, social security, Medicaid, Workers Compensation.

Senate Rules Approves Measure to Raise the Minimum Wage

Feb 13, 2016
State Senator Bill Soules

 Commentary: The Senate Rules Committee voted a do-pass Saturday on Senate Joint Resolution 18 (SJR 18) that would let voters decide in the November general election whether to raise the statewide minimum wage.

SJR 18, sponsored by Senator Bill Soules (D-37- Doña Ana), would base the wage increase on the annual rate of inflation and each increase could not exceed 4%. The minimum wage in New Mexico hasn’t changed since 2009 when it increased to $7.50 an hour, despite price increases across the board for housing, food and other essential items.

Senate Passes Bill to Protect Young Athletes from Brain Injuries

Feb 13, 2016
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

 

  Commentary:  The State Senate passed a bill Saturday that expands guidelines for treating head injuries suffered by student athletes by lengthening the rest period after a suspected concussion, and calls for these procedures to cover non-school related youth athletic programs.

Senate Bill 137 (SB 137), Student Athlete Brain Injury Protocols, which passed the Senate on a 35-4 vote, amends the protocols that were enacted in 2010.

Commentary:  

Republicans Vote to Stop Consumer Protection Bill

Feb 12, 2016
Rep. Jeff Steinborn

  Commentary:  Republicans in the New Mexico House of Representative Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee (RPAC) voted today on a party line vote to stop legislation to establish a “vehicle insurance advisory committee.” The legislation, House Memorial 90, would have established a consumer driven advisory committee within the state office of Superintendent of Insurance to provide consumer protection and oversight ideas for vehicle insurance industry policies in the State of New Mexico.

Firearm Background Checks Unanimously Passes New Mexico Senate

Feb 12, 2016
Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto

  Commentary:  Senate Bill 331, (SB 118), the “Background Check Reporting for Firearms” sponsored by Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-15- Bernalillo), today unanimously passed the Senate.  The bill requires the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to electronically transmit information about people who are adjudicated mentally ill or committed to a mental institution to the FBI’s instant criminal background system.

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