Local Viewpoints

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Governor Martinez Again Vetoes Bill to Improve Court Interpreter Services

Mar 11, 2016
Senator Mimi Stewart (D-17-Bernalillo)

  Commentary:  For the second time in as many years, Governor Susana Martinez on Wednesday vetoed an uncontroversial measure to improve court interpreter services in New Mexico, putting into focus her past efforts as a District Attorney to keep Spanish-speakers from serving on juries.

Recent New Mexico Legislative Session Casts Shadow on Sunshine Week

Mar 11, 2016

 Commentary-- Closed-door budget talks and a failed effort to create a transparent ethics commission largely shaded the recent New Mexico Legislative session from sunlight, but 2016 did see two incremental victories for transparency.

Sunshine Week is March 13-19, 2016.  The Sunshine Week campaign works nationwide to celebrate transparency and emphasize the value of open government.  

Report: NM’s State Economic Development Spending Favors Big Business

Mar 11, 2016

  Commentary:  Despite the fact that a large share of New Mexico’s workforce is employed by small businesses, 70 percent of the state’s economic development subsidies goes to large companies. That’s one of the conclusions of a report released yesterday by Good Jobs First, a Washington, DC-based think tank focused on economic development. The report, “Slicing the Budget Pie for Big Business,” examined $344 million in spending on more than 60 programs among three states—New Mexico, Florida and Missouri.

Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

Commentary:  Senate Democrats today sharply criticized Governor Susana Martinez for her veto of bipartisan-supported legislation to shore up declining revenues of New Mexico’s lottery scholarship fund that enables thousands of the state’s students to attend college.  The bill, SB 79, would have required unclaimed lottery prizes to be transferred to the scholarship fund, resulting in between $1 to $3 million additionally each year for student scholarships.  The decline of state lottery sales has lowered funds available for student tuition scholarships, and SB 79 sought to alleviate the short

Heinrich Votes To Pass Bill To Combat Opioid And Heroin Abuse Epidemic

Mar 10, 2016
Senator Martin Heinrich (D) New Mexico

  Commentary:  Today, U.S.

  Commentary -- Today, President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an agreement to address the climate crisis, expand our clean energy economy, commit both nations to Arctic conservation, and address the need for safeguards to cut dangerous methane from both new and existing sources.

 

Governor Signs Bill Allowing ATVs On New Mexico's Paved Roadways

Mar 9, 2016

  Commentary:   Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville’s bill to allow  local communities  to decide whether all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and  off-highway vehicles (OHVs) can drive on their paved roads was signed by the governor.  This has a local option where local entities could opt in and determine  restrictions such as how fast, and which roads or portion of paved roads the  vehicles can use.

Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Commentary– Last week, New Mexico’s state senate democrats sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requesting an investigation into the Martinez administration’s upheaval of behavioral health services.  The letter follows a similar request by New Mexico’s congressional democrats made last month.  Both letters cite serious concerns regarding NM’s human services department’s (HSD) suspension of funding to 15 behavioral health providers in June, 2013 amid “allegations of credible fraud” and the impact the disruption of services had on those in need of services.

  Commentary:  The TPP was signed by our President and other world leaders on 2/4/16.  Wither we now goest on trade?  The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy noted recently that our future may be corporatism, not national sovereignty. “We have entered a new era of corporate rights—where, in their quest to access natural resources around the world, multinational firms now routinely ride roughshod over governments and communities.” 

 

  Commentary—The National Education Association (NEA) today joined scores of other professionals who advocate for children, including pediatricians, psychologists, and social workers, in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas. The amicus brief urges the Court to vacate a preliminary injunction that blocked the implementation of executive actions announced by President Barack Obama in 2014 aimed at keeping millions of children and families together.

Federal Court Halts New Mexico’s Illegal Limits on Food Assistance

Mar 9, 2016
Office of the Governor

Commentary:  Federal District Court Judge Kenneth Gonzales and Federal Magistrate Judge Carmen Garza issued an injunction late Monday evening preventing the state from implementing a new three month time limit on food assistance.  The injunction protects 17,500 eligible New Mexicans from losing food assistance due to problems with the state’s administration of the time limit.

Sanchez: State’s Job Crisis Demanded More Attention from Governor

Mar 8, 2016
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Commentary:  While the rest of the nation and the region’s states have seen their economic prospects brighten, New Mexico has fallen further behind, losing jobs, economic activity, tax revenue and even population. It is worth noting that the cause for our revenue woes are not due solely to the fall in oil and gas prices.

The Importance of Registering Voters in Dona Ana County

Mar 8, 2016
Scott for Clerk Campaign

  Commentary:  Democracy works when people actively participate in it. Our vision at the Bureau of Elections is to create a voting culture in our community where all qualified people have access to vote, and it will take a collaborative effort between our office and the community to achieve this.

Goodman: Questions Over Hiring In Dona Ana County

Mar 7, 2016

 Commentary: I've voiced strong (and warranted) criticism of the county's Human Resources Department; but there are reasons to have HR. 

The previous sheriff hired someone with an interesting record but no law enforcement experience. Sheriff Garrison admired him. Many deputies didn't. They complained. I wrote several columns. Eventually he left, though on his way out he sued everyone in sight, including me. (A year later the nonsensical lawsuit was dismissed.)

Oh, how I hate getting somebody's name wrong

Mar 7, 2016

Commentary:  Last week, my column for the Deming Headlight twice referred to Deming city councilor Roxana Rincon as "Roxanne." The misprint seems to have occurred because my word processor prefers "Roxanne," perhaps out of an inordinate fondness for the old pop song by The Police or the charming 1987 movie starring Steve Martin. In some haste, I did not spot the error before filing my column last week. Desert Sage blew it. 

Commentary:  President Obama promised that he would make quality, affordable health care not a privilege, but a right. After nearly 100 years of talk and decades of trying by presidents of both parties, that’s exactly what he did.

 

Groups Blast New Mexico Law Protecting Dairy Industry

Mar 4, 2016

  Commentary: On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law Senate Bill 72, another effort by New Mexico’s industrial dairy industry to immunize itself from responsibility for the pollution and nuisance created by these operations.

How Career Politicians Create Family Dynasties

Mar 4, 2016

 

  Commentary:   The odds are better than 50/50 in favor of Hillary Clinton, if she ends up running against Donald Trump in the November general election; at least that’s what some polls are telling us.

There are myriad scenarios yet to play out in this 2016 presidential race, but now that Hillary Clinton has won a commanding share of delegates for the Democratic nomination, stop and think about another Clinton White House.

Start thinking about some, well, profound implications … historically, politically, socially or otherwise.

Beffort’s Bill to help Alleviate Medical Shortage Signed by Governor

Mar 3, 2016

  Commentary:  Senator Sue Wilson Beffort’s bill to help alleviate the shortage of licensed medical workers in the state by expediting the issuing of New Mexico licenses to out-of-state medical practitioners who want to practice here  has been signed by the governor.

Senator Wilson Beffort said presently  New Mexico has a significant shortage of licensed healthcare providers, especially in the rural areas,  and now with the expansion of Medicaid the shortage has become even more critical.

Planning For A More Diverse New Mexico Economy

Mar 3, 2016

  Commentary:  Before the past legislative session began, I wrote an article suggesting that our main focus as a legislature should be on restoring hope for all New Mexicans by developing a responsible budget, reforming our capital outlay system and addressing compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, among other things.  As with all legislative sessions, the mindset going in tends to shift a bit before it's all said and done, and so while I still remain focused on restoring hope, I have a better sense now of just how to do it.

Isabella Solis announces Candidacy for County Commission District 4

Mar 3, 2016

 Commentary:  Isabella Solis has announced her candidacy for Doña Ana County Commission in District 4.  She is seeking the Democratic Party nomination. The District 4 seat is currently held by Wayne Hancock, a Democrat, who was elected in 2012, and serves as commission chair.

“The people of East Mesa have asked for someone to advocate for their needs.  Our district needs a fresh working vision.  I want to be your next county commissioner.”

Udall Pushes for Vote on Ambassador to Mexico, Urges Senators to Fix Dysfunction

Mar 3, 2016

  Commentary:   Today, for the second time this year, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime advocate for Senate reform, made an official request on the Senate floor for a vote on Roberta Jacobson's long-stalled nomination to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) objected on behalf of himself and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), meaning Udall's request was blocked. 

Progressive Caucus Releases The People’s Budget for FY 2017

Mar 3, 2016

  Commentary – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and CPC First-Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) today released the Progressive Caucus’ budget for fiscal year 2017, called The People’s Budget: Prosperity Not Austerity; Invest in America.

Commentary:  The AP “Berniecare” Poll printed locally (2/26) and elsewhere is limited and slanted.  Its assumptions show how health messaging protects industry.  The AP article spreads talk about the problem single payer “could be.”   But, how about now?  Long waits for services?  How many now plan a wait of 1-2 hours to see a doctor in non-emergency situations.   Existing horror stories when you even have good coverage?  Someone in pain from a car crash can be refused doctor’s treatment because there may be a lawsuit involved?  Medical costs now?  Yes, I complain.  

Pearce Introduces Resolution to Protect Tribal Artifacts

Mar 2, 2016

Commentary:  Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement after he introduced the Protection of the Right of Tribes to Stop the Export of Cultural and Traditional Patrimony (PROTECT Patrimony) Resolution: 

Office of the Governor

  Commentary:  Today, Governor Susana Martinez signed legislation allowing local communities to use lodger’s tax revenue to bring passenger air service to their areas, particularly those that are underserved. The Governor’s announcement comes as American Airlines begins regular passenger service from Roswell’s International Air Center (ROW) to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), which is a major hub for U.S. carriers.

Pearce Lauds Bill To Make Medicaid Changes

Mar 2, 2016
Rep. Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico

Commentary:  Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 3716, Ensuring Access to Quality Medicaid Providers Act:

New Mexicans React to Supreme Court Case on Abortion

Mar 2, 2016

  Commentary:   Today, community leaders from throughout New Mexico are speaking out against Texas’ clinic shutdown law that targets abortion providers and clinics. The Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the law today.

  Commentary:  U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that Alamogordo will receive $10.45 million from the Army Corps of Engineers to complete construction of the McKinley Channel and repairs to the Alamogordo South Diversion Channel. The two important projects will channel water from the Sacramento Mountains during rainstorms and help prevent downstream flooding in Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin.

Fischmann: El Paso Electric Needs To Offer "Customer Choice" Option

Mar 2, 2016
Steve Fischmann

  Commentary:  Kudos to the Dona Ana County Commission and the Las Cruces City council for battling El Paso Electric’s proposed rate increase.  Their persistence is a model for how local government can identify and meet the most urgent needs of our county.

Neither body was obligated to take on this task.  The Public Regulation Commission and the Attorney General’s office have legal mandates to insure the lowest possible rates for electricity consumers.  But when presented with evidence that the traditional players might be dropping the ball, the city and county stepped up.

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