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Think New Mexico: 2017 Legislative Session Recap

on March 19, 2017 - 8:16am

Think New Mexico News:

The 2017 legislative session wrapped up at noon Saturday and here are the final outcomes of Think New Mexico's initiatives:

Food Tax Defeated Once Again

Yet again this year there was a serious effort to reimpose the food tax. Along with three stand-alone food tax bills, the comprehensive tax reform package (House Bill 412) initially proposed to reimpose the food tax.

We firmly believe that a food tax has no place in a tax reform bill, and we were grateful that the House voted unanimously to remove the food tax from House Bill 412 before passing it.

NMG&F: Special Hunter Education Camp Offered At Philmont Scout Ranch

on March 19, 2017 - 7:14am
NMG&F News:
 
CIMARRON – The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is offering a special hunter education camp where youth can receive hands-on training and earn a hunter education certification.
 
The camp is open to youth ages 11 to 17, accompanied by a registered, responsible adult. It will be conducted the weekend of April 28-30, 2017 at the renowned Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron. Lodging and meals are free and all equipment is provided.
 
Registration opens March 27. Participants must complete and return the registration form available at www.wildlife.state.nm.us/

House Subcommittee Probes Nuclear Weapons Windfall

on March 18, 2017 - 10:41am

LANL Director Charlie McMillan appears Thursday before House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee in Washington, D.C. Courtesy/HASC webcast

 

By ROGER SNODGRASS
Los Alamos Daily Post

President Trump’s budget priorities were on parade in the House Armed Services subcommittee hearing Thursday, as the White House was releasing a sketch of its fiscal plans for the next 18 months. The White House projection for the nuclear security enterprise proposes strong support for a “nuclear force that is second to none.”

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan spoke

2017 Legislative Session Ends Noon Today

on March 18, 2017 - 10:27am

STATE News:

The 2017 60-day session of the New Mexico Legislature opened at noon Tuesday, Jan. 17 and ends at noon today.

Bill To Restore Classroom Funding Heads To Governor

on March 18, 2017 - 10:22am

STATE News:

SANTA FE – Friday, Senate Bill 462 passed the New Mexico Legislature. Instead of funding infrastructure projects in their home communities, legislators chose to strengthen public schools’ bottom line statewide after several years of tough budgets.

The bill utilized a complicated transfer of capital outlay funds to the general fund to strengthen classrooms. The bill restores $46 million that was cut from public school cash balances, or ‘reserves’, earlier in the session to address FY ’17 budget solvency.

Governor Acts On Four More Pieces Of Legislation

on March 18, 2017 - 9:54am

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez

STATE News:

SANTA FE—Late Friday night, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez acted on the following legislation:

  • Signed Senate Bill 103 — Transfer Of College Credits [MESSAGE]
  • Signed Senate Bill 32 — K-3 Plus Eligibility [MESSAGE]
  • Signed Senate Bill 75 — Deferred Compensation Changes [MESSAGE]
  • Signed Senate Bill 28 — Educational Retirement Changes [MESSAGE]
  • Vetoed Senate Bill 297 — Disabled Veteran License Plate Options [MESSAGE]

 

Santa Fe National Forest Seeks Site Stewards

on March 18, 2017 - 9:50am
Courtesy/SFNF
 
SFNF News:
 
SANTA FE -- The Santa Fe National Forest is looking for new site stewards. Site stewards work in assigned areas to monitor archaeological and historical sites for evidence of deterioration due to natural causes or vandalism.
 
Steward responsibilities include visits to sites on a regular assigned basis (usually once a month, weather and roads permitting), to report damage or significant changes. This is a great way to get outdoors and become more familiar with the forest’s cultural resources.
 
The next formal training is a full-day session Saturday, April

Voters To Decide On Independent Ethics Commission

on March 18, 2017 - 9:46am

HOUSE DEMOCRATS News:

SANTA FE – House Joint Resolution 8, to create an Independent Ethics Commission that will restore trust in government, will now head to the ballot.

HJR 8, sponsored by Representatives Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces), Daymon Ely (D-Corrales) and Jim Dines (R-Albuquerque), proposes a constitutional amendment creating an Independent Ethics Commission tasked with investigating and issuing advisory opinions regarding any violations of laws or misconduct by elected state officials.
 

New Democratic leadership and new members in each chamber with a

Statement On Attempted Override Of Governor’s Veto Of HB 241 - Attendance Component In Teacher Evaluations

on March 18, 2017 - 8:39am
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  Rep. Jim Smith (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe) released the following statement after the House of Representatives failed to override Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto of House Bill 241:
 
“In her veto message, Gov. Martinez stated that she would be willing to consider changes to attendance measures as part of a comprehensive teacher evaluation system. Attendance measures account for just five percent of a teacher’s overall evaluation. House Bill 241 sought to address only the attendance component in teacher evaluations, and we respect Gov.

Eight Los Alamos Pianists Sweep Dennis Alexander Piano Competition

on March 18, 2017 - 8:28am
Composer Dennis Alexander and piano instructor Madeline Williamson pose with Sruthi Garimella, center, winner of a Trifecta of awards at the Dennis Alexander Piano Competition. Courtesy photo
 
Pianists Betty and John Kang with their awards at the Dennis Alexander Piano Competition. Courtesy photo

Music News:

Eight young Los Alamos pianists, ages 8 through 14, competed Saturday, March 11 in the prestigious Dennis Alexander Piano Competition, held annually in Albuquerque at the New Mexico School of Music.

Letter To The Editor: Leave Nonprofits Alone ... Bill 412 Is Double Taxation!

on March 18, 2017 - 8:13am
Lou Santoro
President
The Family YMCA Board of Directors

House Bill 412 calls for closing many exemption loopholes to address the budget crisis that our state faces. No doubt, there are many aspects of the Tax Reform Bill that need just that—reform. However, HB 412 also calls for eliminating the sales tax exemption for nonprofits—all nonprofits large, small, 501c3, churches etc., thus subjecting nonprofits to sales and gross receipts tax.

Under HB 412, nonprofits would need to collect and pay GRT on all contracts (local, state, federal), grants from foundations and United Way, fees from

House Of Representatives Honor New Mexico Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders

on March 17, 2017 - 4:33pm
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  March 9 the House of Representatives honored New Mexico’s law enforcement officers and first responders.
 
Reps. Yvette Herrell (R-Otero) and Patricio Ruiloba (D-Bernalillo) invited public safety personnel from across the state to join members on the House floor so they could be recognized and honored for their commitment to service.
 
Herrell also sponsored a certificate to acknowledge the dedication of New Mexico’s first responders, public safety professionals and volunteers.

Library's Authors Speak Presents Melissa Savage

on March 17, 2017 - 4:16pm
Cover of 'Rio: a Photographic Journey down the Old Rio Grande' by Melissa Savage. Courtesy photo

LIBRARY News:

The author of “Rio: a Photographic Journey down the Old Rio Grande,” Melissa Savage, will speak 7 p.m. March 23 at Mesa Public Library. Savage is a conservationist, geographer, professor emerita with UCLA, and director of the Four Corners Institute in Santa Fe. The book is published by UNM Press and contains an introduction by William de Buys, along with essays by Rina Swentzell, G. Emlen Hall, Juan Estevan Arellano, Estella Leopold, Norma Elia Cantu, Jan Reid and Dan Flores.

UNM

New Mexico Ethics Watch: House Judiciary Committee Substitute For HJR 8, Creating Ethics Commission

on March 17, 2017 - 2:44pm
ETHICS News:
 
New Mexico Ethics Watch has significant concerns regarding the revised version of the constitutional amendment creating an Ethics Commission for New Mexico that the House of Representatives has sent to the Senate for consideration.
 
The House Judiciary Committee made sweeping changes to the legislation, changes that critically undermine a prospective commission’s independence, impartiality, and effectiveness. The legislation now before the Senate is flawed. The Senate should restore the resolution to the text it had at introduction before passing this measure.
 
The

Lottery Scholarship Gap Bill Goes To Governor

on March 17, 2017 - 8:50am
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  Lottery Scholarship Grace Period legislation, SB 420, sponsored by Sen. Bill Soules of Las Cruces, March 15 was passed by the full New Mexico House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support.
 
The bill allows students to take up to 16 months off before beginning college, and still qualify for the state Lottery Scholarship assistance. The measure was the top priority for NMSU students. It was passed earlier in the session by the Senate, and now goes to the Governor for signature.
 
“I am pleased that legislators passed this bill that is so important to

Udall, Tester, Cantwell Introduce Measure To Create Jobs By Fostering Entrepreneurship In Indian Country

on March 17, 2017 - 8:42am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
 
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and former committee chairs Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, legislation to help launch small businesses and encourage job creation in Indian Country. 
 
Their bill, S. 607, creates a competitive grant program to establish and fund business incubators that will assist in cultivating Native American-owned small businesses.

Chile License Plate Bill On It's Way To Gov. Martinez

on March 17, 2017 - 8:38am
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  March 15, the Senate endorsed House Bill 393 on a bipartisan 31 to 7 vote.  House Bill 393 is Rep. Cathrynn Brown’s proposal to create a specialty chile license plate for New Mexico. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Susana Martinez for her signature.
 
The specialty license plate would be available to New Mexicans for a fee of thirty-five dollars. Twenty-five dollars of the fee will be used to fund educational programs at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.

Letter To The Editor: Gun Violence

on March 17, 2017 - 8:24am
By BARBARA MOHON
Santa Fe
 
We have a gun violence problem in New Mexico, and sensible gun policy could be a solution.
 
America's gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries. An average of seven children and teens are killed with guns in the U.S. every day! The statistics are verifiable and numerous. In an effort to reduce gun violence in our community, I am a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
 
The New Mexico legislature is currently considering legislation to require expanded background checks for gun sales in our state.

State Auditor Tim Keller Releases Third Annual Fund Balance Report, Recommendations

on March 17, 2017 - 8:14am
New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE  The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) released the third annual Fund Balance Report that tallies unspent funds in government accounts.
 
The OSA Government Accountability Office compiled data from the most recent financial audits of 431 funds in 91 state agencies. Most of the dollars reside in funds for thousands of specific projects and programs.

Prescribed Burn Planned On Santa Fe National Forest

on March 17, 2017 - 8:06am
SFNF News:
 
SANTA FE  Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are planning a prescribed burn near the community of Mesa Poleo on the Coyote Ranger District. 
 
Hand ignitions could begin as early as Tuesday, March 21, if conditions, including weather, winds and air quality, are favorable. 
 
The SFNF hopes to treat 300 acres of hazardous fuels located 1.5 miles southwest of the community of Mesa Poleo and 3 miles southwest of Coyote. Fire crews expect to treat 50 to 100 acres per day as long as conditions remain favorable.

Letter To The Editor: Support Legislation To Require Background Checks For All Gun Sales

on March 17, 2017 - 7:56am
By NINA SAMMONS
Santa Fe
 
As a voter in Sen. Liz Stefanics’ district, I encourage my fellow residents to call our legislators to support legislation to require background checks for all gun sales.
 
The law requires sales from gun shows or the internet to include a background check on the buyer ensuring that guns don’t end up in the hands of criminals or those with a dangerous mental illness. Polling has shown that this policy is supported by 87 percent of New Mexicans and 84% of New Mexican gun owners.
 
Please contact your legislators and let them know you support background checks on

Heinrich Calls On Trump To Address Wiretap Claim

on March 17, 2017 - 7:53am
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement calling on President Trump to come clean on his unsubstantiated accusation that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower prior to last year's election:
 
“If President Trump wanted to put this to bed, he’d come clean with whatever ‘evidence’ he claims to have.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Bill Moves To House Floor

on March 16, 2017 - 4:45pm
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE The House Health and Human Services Committee has passed legislation to prevent opioid drug overdoses in New Mexico. House Bill 370, sponsored by Reps. Sarah Maestas Barnes (R-Bernalillo) and Rebecca Dow (R-Grant, Hidalgo and Sierra), passed by a vote of 6 to 0.
 
The bill aims to increase awareness and access to naloxone. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, blocks the effects of opioids and is used to treat suspected opioid overdoses.

Police Issue Statewide Arrest Warrant On Second Bealls Shoplifting Suspect Stephanie Garcia

on March 16, 2017 - 4:35pm

LAPD News:

Los Alamos police report that they have identified the second suspect involved in the March 9 shoplifting incident at Bealls and the hit and run case involving a silver Volvo that left a local man with minor injuries. A search warrant was obtained and executed on that Volvo, according to police. 

The name of the second shoplifting suspect is Stephanie Garcia, 31, of Espanola, (no relation to arrested suspect Ashley Garcia) and LAPD Det. Joseph Robinson has obtained a statewide arrest warrant against her for the following charges;

  • Shoplifting (4th Degree Felony)
  • Conspiracy (3rd

Sen. Martin Heinrich: President Trump’s Budget Outline Does Not Reflect Our Core Values And Principles

on March 16, 2017 - 7:56am

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

U.S. SENATE News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich issued the following statement after President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2018 budget outline that cuts $54 billion from non-defense discretionary spending.

The President's budget boosts Defense Department spending by 10 percent, cuts the State Department by 28 percent and the Environmental Protection Agency by 25 percent, eliminates funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and provides $1.5 billion for construction of the border wall.

“President Trump’s proposal irresponsibly robs $54

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