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Rep. Stansbury Announces Critical Water Legislation

on February 20, 2019 - 2:33pm
Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) and Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena) announced the introduction of House Bill 651. Courtesy photo
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE Tuesday, on Earth Science Day, Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) and Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena) announced the introduction of House Bill 651—which will help address water management needs across the state.  
 
Responding to drought and meeting the needs of farmers, communities, energy producers, and our natural places requires having the science and tools to do so.
 
House Bill 651, the Water Data

Gessing: Tax Hikes Won’t Diversify NM Economy

on February 20, 2019 - 2:30pm
By PAUL J. GESSING
Rio Grande Foundation
 
House Democrats have revamped and are now pushing HB 6, legislation that ostensibly “reforms” New Mexico’s tax code. In reality, the legislation would impose a variety of tax hikes and raise New Mexicans’ overall tax burdens by $120 million a year.
 
The bill would have the positive impact of reducing the State gross receipts tax rate by 0.5%, but the legislation includes numerous taxes including but not limited to motor vehicle excise taxes, a 10 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, hiking the top rate on personal income taxes from 4.9 to

Dem Leaders, Shoppers Don’t Want Food Taxed Again

on February 20, 2019 - 7:35am
Demetrio Martinez and Aurora Hentzen shop Tuesday for poblano peppers in the produce section of of El Paisano Supermarket on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican
 
Mariah Peña and her family shop for groceries Tuesday in a Santa Fe supermarket. Photo by Rebecca Moss/The New Mexican
 
By REBECCA MOSS
On a frigid Tuesday morning, Mariah Peña drove from her home at San Ildefonso Pueblo to go grocery shopping in Santa Fe with her son and little sister.
 
Inside the Market Street supermarket, 7-year-old Damian settled onto his back

House Passes ‘Motor Voter’ Registration Bill

on February 20, 2019 - 7:27am
The Roundhouse. Courtesy/SFNM
 
By ROBERT NOTT
 
Following a contentious debate, the state House of Representatives late Tuesday voted to approve a bill that would automatically register eligible New Mexicans to vote when they conduct transactions with the Motor Vehicle Division.
 
House Bill 84 includes a provision that allows those citizens to opt out of registering or updating their existing voter registration as they apply for a driver's license or state identity card.
 
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver spoke in favor of the legislation during a news conference at

Bill To Improve 911 Systems Passes House Committee

on February 20, 2019 - 7:24am
HOUSE DEMOCRATS News:
 
SANTA FE Tuesday, the House Local Government, Land Grants & Cultural Affairs Committee passed House Bill 493, sponsored by Rep. Jim Trujillo (D-Santa Fe), to improve 911 systems.
 
House Bill 439 would establish an Enhanced 911 Advisory Board to work with the Department of Finance Administration and the Department of Information Technology, among other partners, to guide the enhanced 911 fund in improving its efficiency and transition to Next Generation technology.
 
According to a March 2018 Legislative Finance Report, “upgrading 911 systems to Next

Governor Appoints John D’Antonio State Engineer

on February 20, 2019 - 7:19am
John D’Antonio
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Tuesday made a key personnel appointment naming John D’Antonio as New Mexico State Engineer.
 
“With decades of resource engineering experience, John D’Antonio is uniquely qualified to direct the critical protection and management of our water resources,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I have no illusions about the challenges we face, from climate change to infrastructure needs, from lawsuits to staffing levels. I know John will meet these challenges head on.

Udall, Heinrich Secure Strong Investments For New Mexico In Bipartisan Government Funding Agreement

on February 20, 2019 - 6:33am
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined the Senate in voting 83-16 to pass a bipartisan agreement to fund the government through September 2019, avert another partial government shutdown, and invest in essential New Mexico priorities.
 
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the bill, and the president has signed it into law.
 
The funding package includes several measures to benefit New Mexico that Udall and Heinrich successfully championed.

Legislative Roundup: Feb. 20

on February 20, 2019 - 6:00am
Phil Miller, a map producer for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, a research division of New Mexico Tech, shows Scott Christenson a 3D aquifer mapping program depicting the subsurface geology at Carlsbad during New Mexico Tech Day at the state Captiol Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
 
SFNM News:
 
Days remaining in session: 24
 
Secret ballots: State senators voted 34-0 on Tuesday for a bill that would enable victims of domestic violence to vote through a confidential system.
 
The sponsor, Sen.

Secretary Of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver Responds To Senate Passage Of Important Update To Public Financing Of New Mexico Elections

on February 20, 2019 - 5:59am
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE The New Mexico State Senate has passed an important update to the state’s public financing system.
 
Senate Bill 4 passed the Senate Tuesday 34-1 and, if it becomes law, will expand public financing of certain races in New Mexico elections.
 
“People from all backgrounds and walks of life should have the ability to run for public office, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said.

Tax Officials Ask New Mexico Lawmakers To Push Back Bill’s Date For Legal Pot Sales

on February 19, 2019 - 2:43pm

Courtesy photo
 
By ANDREW OXFORD
When it comes to legalizing cannabis for recreational use, those responsible for running state government have a warning for lawmakers: Not so fast.
 
The proposed legislation calls for the state to begin licensing retailers as soon as January 2020. But the state Taxation and Revenue Department has told lawmakers the deadline is unfeasible and asked that they push it back to 2021.
 
The change would shove further into the future the day when New Mexicans who are 21 and older could freely buy cannabis from retailers.

Sen. Mimi Stewart Bill To Improve Fire Safety In Schools, Hospitals Passes New Mexico Senate

on February 19, 2019 - 2:33pm

Sen. Mimi Stewart

STATE NEWS:

SB 143 Calls for Rules to Allow More Smoke/Fire Damper Inspections


Sen. Mimi Stewart’s bill to improve fire safety in schools, hospitals and other public buildings by requiring the Public Regulation Commission to update inspection guidelines for smoke and fire dampers passed the Senate on Tuesday.

Specifically, SB 143 directs the PRC to establish rules that would allow certified technicians who install smoke and fire dampers to also inspect dampers and report damage or needed repairs.

“Smoke and fire dampers are in almost every school, every hospital and

Senator Wants Ethics Panel’s Work Mostly Secret

on February 19, 2019 - 2:25pm
Sen. Linda M. Lopez, D-Albuquerque, sits in the Senate chamber Friday, February 15, 2019. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
 
By ANDREW OXFORD
A state senator has proposed to keep much of the New Mexico ethics commission's work secret and potentially impose thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time on anyone who breaks its confidentiality rules.
 
Seventy-five percent of voters in last year's election approved the creation of a state ethics commission, and legislators are now debating exactly how it should work, including how much the public

Heinrich, Udall Reintroduce Buffalo Tract Protection Act

on February 19, 2019 - 1:56pm
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have reintroduced the Buffalo Tract Protection Act to withdraw four parcels of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in southern Sandoval County, including the Buffalo Tract and the Crest of Montezuma, from any mineral development, including gravel mining.
 
In 2012, the BLM released a draft of the new resource management plan for BLM lands in central New Mexico.

Regional Coalition Of LANL Communities Meets Friday

on February 19, 2019 - 1:54pm

RCLC News:

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) meets at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at the Espanola City Hall, 405 N. Paseo De Onate in Espanola.

Agenda items include a LANL Legacy Cleanup overview presentation by N3B.

The meeting is open to the public.

About the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities:

The Regional Coalition is comprised of nine cities, towns, counties and pueblos surrounding the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Founded in 2011, the Regional Coalition works in partnership to ensure national decisions incorporate local needs and

Proposal On How Regents Are Picked Advances

on February 19, 2019 - 1:38pm
By ROBERT NOTT
 
A proposed constitutional amendment to create a nominating commission for university regents cleared the Senate Rules Committee on Monday. The vote was 7-3.
 
The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces, said an independent body of nominators, and not the governor alone, should establish a field of candidates to serve as regents.
 
Senate Joint Resolution 6 would require the nominating commission to submit three names for each regent seat to the governor, who then would make her selections from the field.
 
"This is the heart of reform,"

Bill Shines Light On Legislature’s Budget Process

on February 19, 2019 - 11:04am
NMFOG News:
 
SANTA FE Five New Mexico legislators are sponsoring HB 635, a bill introducing transparency into the budget making process and holding lawmakers accountable for how taxpayer dollars are allocated and spent.
 
“The current budget will be in excess of $7 billion and it is more important than ever that lawmakers be more transparent about how taxpayer dollars are spent,” NMFOG Executive Director Melanie J. Majors said. “HB 635 is a positive step to make the Legislature’s process to produce a state budget more transparent.

Bill To Fund New Chapter For NM Passes HAFC

on February 19, 2019 - 11:01am
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE Monday, the House Appropriations and Finance Committee passed House Bill 2. The General Appropriations Act of 2019 contains a total recurring appropriations of $7 billion, a 10.8 percent increase over Fiscal Year 19.
 
“I am very proud of what this committee has been able to do and for passing the budget,” said Chairwoman of House Appropriations and Finance Committee, Rep. Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup). “The House Appropriations and Finance Committee touches the life of everyone in New Mexico. At the end of the day this bill funds our core governmental functions.

Public Lands Rally In Santa Fe Wednesday

on February 19, 2019 - 10:59am
NMWF News:
 
The New Mexico Wildlife Federation is joining other conservation groups in holding its annual Public Lands Rally Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the state Capitol in Santa Fe.
 
State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard has been invited to speak. The rally also will feature tribal leaders, hunters, anglers and others.
 
Many plan to protest against the scheduled March 28 auction of energy leases on 11,000 acres of public and ancestral tribal lands in New Mexico, including more than 10,000 acres in the Greater Chaco region.
 
Members also will showcase the delivery of more

LWVLA Lunch With A Leader Is Canceled Today

on February 19, 2019 - 9:47am

LWVLA News:

The League of Women Voters of Los Alamos Lunch with a Leader scheduled for today is canceled due to inclement weather conditions.

Legislative Roundup: Feb. 19

on February 19, 2019 - 9:08am
Kenneth Walter with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs talks to Kevin Lancaster of the Legislative Council Service Monday about an exhibit on Ft. Stanton during History Day at the Capitol. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Tiffanie Owen with the Dept. of Cultural Affairs talks to Daniel Betancourt, 5, and Mariana Betancourt, 6, about a Lincoln County exhibit Monday at History Day at the Capitol. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
 
SFNM News:
 
Days remaining in session: 25
 
Immigration enforcement: A poll conducted for two advocacy groups has found

HB 647 Would Limit Cap On Property Tax Hikes

on February 18, 2019 - 8:11pm
State Rep. Matthew McQueen
 
By SARAH HALASZ GRAHAM
Can a 16-word edit to a state statute resolve one of Santa Fe's most vexing property tax questions?
 
State Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, hopes so.
 
McQueen last week introduced a bill that proposes to amend an 18-year-old law that critics say has allowed corporate owners of apartment complexes and nursing homes plus some wealthy homeowners to receive thousands of dollars in property tax breaks each year.
 
The bill, McQueen said, came in response to a Feb.

Student Liaisons To School Board Visit Roundhouse

on February 18, 2019 - 7:02pm
Los Alamos High School student liaisons to the LAPS Board of Education are on the floor of the House of Representaives today hosted by Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos, center. The students did not miss school today during their visit to the state capitol because they were off for Presidents Day. Students include seniors Sonyia Williams and Priscilla Marquez and Juniors Justin Pena, Ogden Berry, Zoe Butler and Ethan Rushton. Photo by Kurt Steinhaus

LAHS students attend the Senate and House Education committees and participate in debates about institutional materials; they also met with

Letter To The Editor: Presidents Day Lament II

on February 18, 2019 - 6:24pm
By WILLIAM MEAD
Los Alamos
 
“This Presidents Day is a day of mourning for the presidency of the United States, which has been hijacked by someone who defies the Constitution, refuses to be president of all the people, and continuously degrades, denigrates, and diminishes the American presidency.” – Robert Reich, UC Berkeley
 
On this occasion last year, I explained why I mourn for America under Trump's presidency (link). This year, I’ll add a few of Trump’s most serious new gaffes.
  • Placement of Brett Kavanaugh on the US Supreme Court;
  • Mistreatment of refugees at our southern border;

Governor Establishes PERA Solvency Task Force

on February 18, 2019 - 6:01pm
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham today ordered the creation of a Public Employees Retirement Association Solvency Task Force.
 
The governor, in an executive order, established the makeup of the task force and directed members to immediately begin identifying reasonable and measured changes to contributions and benefits that will both prevent the need for more significant changes in the future and address the liabilities associated with the state’s pension plans.
 
“I expect diligent, expedient work from this group of stakeholders,”

Trap Free New Mexico Issues Call To Action

on February 18, 2019 - 6:00pm

This owl is the latest victim caught in a trap and Trap Free New Mexico has issued a call to action asking people to voice their support for HB 366 to get dangerous, cruel, and indiscriminate traps and poisons off New Mexico public lands. Courtesy/TFNM

TFNM News:

It's time to act ... HB 366 (Roxy's Law) has not been scheduled for its next hearing yet, but it's time to start reaching out to members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Trap Free New Mexico is asking everyone to send the committee members at the state legislature an email asking them to support HB 366, which will get dangerous,

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