Local Viewpoints

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Fischmann: Lawmakers Betray New Mexico On High-Cost Loans

Apr 29, 2015
Steve Fischmann

  Storefront consumer lending barely existed when New Mexico eliminated interest rate caps back in the early 80's.  Most people went to banks or credit unions for loans and a relatively few desperate borrowers resorted to underworld lenders that charged annual interest rates around 200 percent.  

New Mexico Democrats Negotiating With Governor On Possible Special Sesssion

Apr 28, 2015
Senator John Arthur Smith (D-Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Sierra-35), Chair, Legislative Finance Committee

  Santa Fe, NM – Senate Democratic leaders, seeking to avoid a destructive showdown on capital outlay funds worth hundreds of millions of dollars for public projects across the state in 2015, are now in talks with officials from Governor Susana Martinez’s office and Senate Republicans.  As of Tuesday afternoon, negotiations among the parties were ongoing and expected to continue.  No compromise had been reached to enable capital funds to be spent next year, nor on whether a special session to resolve the issue would occur.

Natural Resources Defense Council: Act Now To Protect Our Water

Apr 28, 2015

  This week, the full House of Representatives will likely consider a bill attacking a years-long initiative to protect waterways that we use as sources of drinking water, swim in, fish from, and boat on. Sponsors of this bill (H.R. 1732) call it the "Regulatory Integrity Protection Act," but it is more appropriately dubbed the "R.I.P.

Rodríguez Pushes For Increased Funding For English-Language Learners

Apr 28, 2015

  AUSTIN – State Sen. José Rodríguez's SB 161, which would increase funding for programs that serve English Language Learner (ELL) students, was heard in the Senate Education Committee this morning.

ELL students in Texas typically have learned a language other than English in their home, and while the predominant language of ELL students is Spanish, multicultural Texas includes students in every corner of the state who grew up with any one of dozens of languages from all over the world.

Gessing: Walmart, We Hate You. Now, Please Come Back!

Apr 27, 2015
Paul Gessing, President-Rio Grande Foundation

  Liberals generally don’t care for Wal Mart. In fact, egged on by the left-wing Green “Chamber of Commerce,” the Las Cruces City Council recently rejected a proposal to rezone some land for a Wal-Mart.

Heinrich Opposes Trade Proposal

Apr 27, 2015
US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

  Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released the following statement opposing “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that would expedite approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by revoking Congress’ authority to amend the deal:

Papen Calls On Martinez To Address New Mexico Mental Health Care Issues

Apr 27, 2015
Senator Mary Kay Papen (D)

  Santa Fe, NM –Senator Mary Kay Papen (D-38- Dona Ana), Pro Tem of the New Mexico Senate and the Legislature’s most important advocate for mental health policies, today expressed serious concerns over major problems in the State’s behavioral health system.  In a letter to the Martinez Administration directors who oversee behavioral health programs – the secretaries of the departments of Human Services, Health, and Children, Youth and Families – Sen.

Goodman: The Freedom To Choose A Beautiful Death

Apr 26, 2015

  Florida would say that years ago I committed a crime there, probably some variety of homicide: out of love, I helped someone have a beautiful death.

Which, coincidentally, is the title of an important symposium at NMSU on Friday.

NMSU remains steadfastly neutral on the end-of-life issues the symposium will cover. NMSU has simply noticed that we all die; that longer lives and scientific advances create both options and horrors; and that people should think about end-of-life issues and plan accordingly.

Transparency In New Mexico: A Mixed Forecast

Apr 24, 2015

  Column Courtesy of New Mexico In Depth:  Common Cause New Mexico and other advocacy groups mounted an ambitious campaign to shower the Roundhouse in sunshine and fix some of our ailing campaign finance laws during the past legislative session, but the result fell short of what good government groups had expected. As a result, the forecast remains only partly sunny – or partly cloudy – depending on your outlook.

Partly Sunny:

Sanchez: Why Did Governor Reject New Mexico Driver's License Compromise?

Apr 24, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Santa Fe, NM – One of the great missed opportunities of the 2015 Legislative Session was the chance to finally enact a sensible compromise on how the State ought to treat the driver’s licenses of undocumented immigrants.  Governor Susana Martinez’s stubborn refusal to compromise on the issue again blocked any opportunity for a bipartisan, commonsense solution.

New Mexico has some 90,000 undocumented residents, many of whom work here, shop here, send their children to public schools here, and certainly drive vehicles to get these things done.

Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino: The Poison On The Tip Of The Veto Pen

Apr 22, 2015
Office of the Governor

   I am once again astonished at how little attention is given by the mainstream press in this city to the damage that is done by the veto pen.  Instead of simply working out the arithmetic of how many vetoes are exercised by the Governor or how that percentage of nullifying actions compares to previous Governors’ vetoes, it would be refreshing, and a genuine contribution to the enlightenment of the voting public if the Journal, for example, would actually write about what damage those vetoes have done.

City of San Antonio

  Taking part in a “faith forum” for mayoral candidates on Sunday, Mayor Ivy Taylor of San Antonio, Texas attacked a recently-enacted non-discrimination ordinance protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) city employees and contractors from discrimination. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Transparency and the 2015 Legislative Session

Apr 21, 2015

  From New Mexico In Depth (NMID):

Editor's note: NMID recently asked columnists who wrote for our Januarylegislative guide to summarize how, in their opinion, transparency and openness fared during the recently-ended 60-day session in Santa Fe. This is the first of several columns.  

Senator Bill O'Neill: Reflections On The New Mexico Legislative Session

Apr 20, 2015

  Santa Fe, NM –The 2015 legislative session has adjourned, giving ample time to reflect on both its disappointments and accomplishments.

Certainly, the inability to pass our much-needed $264 million capital outlay bill was disheartening to say the least. Included in the capital outlay bill were vital improvements for senior centers, public school buildings, public libraries, museums, health centers, etc.

Following the usual procedure, the Senate sent a unanimously approved bill to the House with plenty of time for it to be amended and sent back to us for final approval.

Rodriguez Blasts Texas School Voucher Plan; Votes Against Senate Bill

Apr 20, 2015

  AUSTIN – SB 4, the Texas school voucher bill that would divert money from public to private schools, passed the Senate floor today. State Sen. José Rodríguez voted against the bill, after his amendment to require that private schools receiving public funds are held to the same standards as public schools was not accepted.

His statement is as follows:


  Sound-off callers complain that subscription prices have risen; and friends and acquaintances have told me either "We don't read the Sun-News!" (as if only the New York Times would do) or "We only take the paper these days for your column."

Gessing: New Mexico Film Subsidies Have Not Panned Out

Apr 18, 2015
Paul Gessing, President-Rio Grande Foundation

  Like many states, New Mexico has embraced subsidies for Hollywood film companies. Many Americans know our state as the home of meth-making high school teacher Walter White through the popular show Breaking Bad.

As nice as it is to have your hometown portrayed, as it was in the show, as a town full of meth addicts, drug dealers, and cartels; the evidence is that New Mexico’s film subsidies have been an abject failure from an economic perspective.

Krahling: New Mexico Legislature Improves Voter Registration Rolls

Apr 17, 2015
Simon Thompson


   This year the legislature made decisions that will improve the election process. Both houses managed to pass an omnibus election bill that improves many things. I want to highlight one of those improvements; granting authority to the Secretary of State to cooperate with local, state and federal agencies on verification of voter registration information.

New Mexico Senate Democrats: PED Bullying Las Cruces Public Schools

Apr 17, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Santa Fe, NM – Democratic Senators today spoke out strongly against the State Public Education Department’s (PED) recent move to strip the Las Cruces School Board of its authority over teacher evaluations and sick leave.  Senators said that PED had overstepped its legal authority in the case, and described PED’s actions as bullying tactics that have no place in New Mexico’s education policies.

  DENVER - In response to today’s announcement that the Bureau of Land Management is releasing an “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” to ensure that taxpayers receive a fair return for oil and gas development on their public lands, Greg Zimmerman, Policy Director at the Center for Western Priorities, released the following statement:


Tax Day 2015: How the Federal Government Spent Taxpayer Dollars Last Year

Apr 15, 2015


"Dignity Crossing" Monday In El Paso

Apr 13, 2015

  El Paso, TX—Today at noon, staff and volunteers from the Regional Center for Border Rights of the ACLU of New Mexico, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, and Equality New Mexico will form a Know Your Rights checkpoint at the Santa Fe port of entry in El Paso to inform individuals of their rights. The event is part of an ongoing, border-wide “Dignity Crossing” campaign.

Goodman: A Master Storyteller Speaks In Las Cruces

Apr 12, 2015

  Sherman Alexie spoke here Tuesday evening, a rare chance to witness a master storyteller mixing a stand-up comic's timing, a mime's expressiveness, holding us so spellbound that the packed theater gave him a standing ovation – and the line for getting him to sign books still extended out the door a half-hour after he'd finished.

I'd read some of his novels, and liked them. In person, he was great fun. He delivered his insightful tales and observations informally, with a master's compelling mix of the natural and the practiced.

  Governor Susana Martinez signed the Online Voter Registration Bill, SB 643 sponsored by Senator Lisa Torraco (R-Bernalillo). This has been a long time priority for Common Cause New Mexico as well as our numerous partner organizations we work with in our Election Administration Coalition. We so appreciate the hard work so many folks put into making this a reality, and a special thanks to Governor Martinez for signing it!

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

  Santa Fe, NM – Senate Democrats today criticized Governor Susana Martinez’s vetoes of important and strong bipartisan legislation, including funding for the judicial system and courts, research for future industrial hemp production, accountability for the State’s troubled cash-balances, and other measures.  Despite claims that the 2015 legislative session was a highly partisan one, there were in fact areas of strong agreement between the two parties and the two chambers which resulted in useful bills being sent to the Executive.  Unfortunately the Governor rejected bipartisan compromise b

AAUP Investigates MD Anderson Cancer Center

Apr 8, 2015

  I’m writing to let you know that today the AAUP is releasing an investigative report, Academic Freedom and Tenure: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The report finds that the cancer center administration violated commonly accepted academic standards when it terminated the appointments of two professors.


  In New Mexico, lobbyists register, file expenditure and contribution reports – but often these are indecipherable or non-existent, purged after only a few years. Yesterday Governor Susana Martinez signed House Bill 155 sponsored by Representative Jeff Steinborn that will drastically improve our Lobbyist Regulation Act. HB115 requires that:

Getting Pushed Over To The Side Of The Road

Apr 8, 2015

  Have you ever owned a jalopy and had to push it over to the side of the road? Remember what it’s like, drivers side door open, traffic stopped and you huffing and puffing to get it out of everyone’s way. When I was young my parents did not  give me a car when I came to NMSU.  Most students did not have cars at NMSU in the sixties. It was kind of like it must be now in Cuba. Those students who had cars had some real clunkers. They stalled plenty of times, at the worst times naturally. On my way to a meeting this week I saw a student pushing his car off to the side of the road.

Krahling: Online Voter Registration Helps Voters And Administrators

Apr 6, 2015

  In 2014, the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration released a report with best practices to improve voter experience and promote confidence in the administration of elections.

Many of the recommendations have been implemented in Doña Ana County, and we have been engaged with the Legislature to implement others, including online voter registration. This year the Legislature unanimously passed a bill that directs the Secretary of State to implement online voter registration statewide by 2017.

Rodriguez Blasts Texas Bill Denying In-State Tuition To Immigrants

Apr 6, 2015

  AUSTIN – Today, the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security is discussing SB 185 and SB 1819, bills that, respectively, target students and hurt proven police strategies to reduce crimes in our communities. Senator José Rodríguez issued the following statement: