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New Mexico Delegation Introduces Bicameral Native American Voting Rights Act

on March 19, 2019 - 5:31am
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, along with U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres Small, led a group of Senate and House Democrats in re-introducing the Native American Voting Rights Act, landmark legislation that would provide the necessary resources and oversight to ensure Native Americans and Alaska Natives have equal access to the electoral process.  
 
Udall led the introduction of the Native American Voting Rights Act last Congress.
 

Udall Meets With VA Secretary Robert Wilkie Regarding Help For Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits...

on March 19, 2019 - 5:07am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
 
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall met with the U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert Wilkie to discuss the urgent need to enact bipartisan legislation to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, address staffing shortages and decreasing capabilities at the New Mexico VA Health Care System, and other issues critical to health and wellbeing of veterans in New Mexico and across the country.
 
Udall has long worked to ensure that New Mexico veterans receive better access to the medical treatment they need.

Los Alamos Fundraiser Held For Rep. Ben Ray Luján

on March 18, 2019 - 10:25pm
Nearly 100 supporters of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján gathered this evening at a local residence for a fundraiser, including elected Democrats front row from left, New Mexico Secretary of Education Karen Trujillo, Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott, Lujan, Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard and Public Education Commissioner Karyl Ann Armbruster. Back row from left, Los Alamos County Councilors David Izraelevitz and Randy Ryti. Courtesy photo
 

Scott And Ryti Host Community Town Hall Meetings

on March 18, 2019 - 8:29am
County Councilor Randall Ryti and Council Chair Sara Scott host a town hall meeting March 12 at the Municipal Building. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
 
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post

What would the public like to see the Los Alamos County Council address? This question was posed during a town hall meeting March 12 at the Municipal Building and the answers ranged from vacant commercial space and housing to open space, recreation and social services.

Former County Councilor Morris Pongratz urged the new County Council to strive to create a

Lunch With A Leader: Skolnik Presents ‘Fifty Countries Later – A Global Perspective On Healthcare In The US’

on March 17, 2019 - 9:54am

Richard Skolnik

LWVLA News:

The League of Women Voters’ monthly Lunch with a Leader event for the community is 11:45 a.m., March 19 at Mesa Public Library.

Featured speaker Richard Skolnik, who moved to Los Alamos a few years ago, will present “Fifty Countries Later – A Global Perspective on Healthcare in the US”.

During his presentation, Skolnik will address the fact that although the United States spends 50 percent more of its national income on health than any other country, its citizens are not living longer or healthier.

Skolnik has given scores of guest lectures and in 2011was the

Done Deal: 2019 New Mexico Legislature Adjourns

on March 17, 2019 - 9:09am
House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, center, delivers final remarks as the 2019 Legislative session comes to a close at noon Saturday. Courtesy/SFNM
 
Lawmakers are packing it up and heading home following the close of the 2019 60-Day Legislative Session at noon Saturday in Santa Fe. Courtesy/SFNM
 
By ANDREW OXFORD
 
The 60-day legislative session ended Saturday with a down-to-the-wire agreement on a sweeping tax bill that will raise rates on e-cigarettes and new vehicles while nearly doubling an income tax credit for some families.
 
The scaled-back

GOP: We Will Rise Again

on March 17, 2019 - 8:25am
By ROBERT NOTT
 
With only minutes left on the clock on the last day of the legislative session, Republicans in the state House of Representatives didn't even get one last chance to raise a squalor.
 
All they could do was raise a collective "Nay!" when asked if they approved a House-Senate compromise on a $7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020.
 
Outnumbered 46-24 by Democrats, the House Republicans were out-shouted as the session neared its close Saturday. And that's how it had played out for most of the 60-day session.
 
House Republicans failed to

2019 Session ... What Lawmakers Did, Didn’t Do...

on March 17, 2019 - 8:05am
Rep. Bill Pratt, D-Albuquerque, talks with Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, at the Roundhouse on final day of the 2019 session Saturday. Robert Nott/The New Mexican

Denéé Reyes plays a gospel tune in the Capitol Rotunda just after the Legislature adjourned at noon on final day of the 2019 session Saturday. Robert Nott/The New Mexican
 
Compiled by Milan Simonich, Andrew Oxford and Robert Nott
New Mexican Staff
 
Here's a capsule view of what happened during the state Legislature's 60-day session that ended Saturday.
 
Not so high: No, New Mexico isn't legalizing recreational cannabis

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich Announces $14.9 Million Air Force Contract For Albuquerque Space Company

on March 17, 2019 - 7:46am
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has announced that the U.S. Air Force awarded Albuquerque company LoadPath, LLC a $14,899,737 contract to assist the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base with advanced spacecraft systems.
 
“This is another big step forward in building New Mexico's integral role in major advances in the development of the military’s more responsive and resilient space architecture,” Heinrich said.

2019 New Mexico Legislative Session Has Ended

on March 16, 2019 - 12:14pm

DPNM News:

Today is the last day of the 2019 New Mexico legislative session and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s first session as our chief executive. In celebration, Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Marg Elliston released this statement:

“Transformative—that’s how you describe this session. From investments in our children, working families, renewable energy, and infrastructure, to overdue changes like decriminalization of cannabis, common sense gun safety, and raising the minimum wage, New Mexico is on the move.

“Gov.

Letter To The Editor: Minimum Wage Bill

on March 16, 2019 - 10:36am
By TERRY GOLDMAN
Los Alamos
 
Sen. William Sharer (R-Farmington) is quoted as saying: "Most of us can't all of a sudden take a 21 per cent increase" [in the minimum wage].
 
But over the last eight years, Gov. Martinez's vetoes of all minimum wage increases were allowed to stand. Did the Senator work for compromises that would have provided for increases of 2 to 3 percent a year, which could have been 'taken', gradually?
 
How can we take his concern regarding 'suddenness' seriously if he made no effort to prevent it by forging such compromises to avoid or override the vetoes?

Balderas Announces Grand Jury Indictment Of Guardianship Angels CEO Pamela Crumpler

on March 16, 2019 - 10:26am
Attorney General Hector Balderas
 
AG News:
 
ALBUQUERQUE Attorney General Hector Balderas has announced the grand jury indictment of Pamela Crumpler, CEO of Guardian Angels. Crumpler is indicted on two counts, including 2nd-degree felony Embezzlement (Over $20,000), and 3rd-degree felony Tampering with Evidence.
 
“No one should take advantage of vulnerable individuals in our community,” Balderas said. “We are prepared to present this case at trial.”
 
Crumpler faces a total jurisdiction of 12 years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

Gov. Lujan Grisham Signs Senate Bill 10, Significantly Boosting Small Business Investment

on March 16, 2019 - 10:10am
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Wednesday signing Senate Bill 10. Courtesy photo
 
STATE News:
 
SANTA FE Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 10, doubling the funding for the state Small Business Investment Corporation, delivering $50 million into new and growing New Mexico small businesses.
 
For almost two decades, the self-sustaining SBIC has supported small businesses across New Mexico through loans to finance business expansion and job creation.
 
Both chambers overwhelmingly approved the legislation.
 
“This is a perfect example of a reasonable permanent

USFS Moves Forward With Massive Timber Sale

on March 16, 2019 - 9:58am
Defenders of Wildlife Senior Alaska Representative Patrick Lavin
 
FOREST News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Forest Service has announced that it is signing the Record of Decision for the Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis Project today, March 16.
 
The project entails widespread old-growth clearcutting on the largest island in our nation’s largest forest. In 2016, the USFS committed to a transition out of old-growth logging and away from uneconomical and destructive timber sales like this proposal.
 
Defenders of Wildlife Senior Alaska Representative, Patrick Lavin, issued

Governor Signs Education Legislation

on March 16, 2019 - 8:48am

STATE News:

 

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed three bills that will create new and boost existing education efforts across the state, welcoming legislative sponsors to brief signing ceremonies in the Cabinet Room.

 

Senate Bill 576 increases access to area vocational high schools by removing restrictions on where those schools can be located. The new law also places the responsibility of approving such a school solely in the hands of the Public Education Department.

 

House Bill 7 establishes four centers of excellence at colleges and universities across the

Udall Statement On EPA Methylene Chloride Rule

on March 16, 2019 - 8:41am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
 
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. Friday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, issued the following statement on EPA’s final rule on methylene chloride:
 
“The Trump administration has again failed to live up to the letter and spirit of the historic bipartisan reform of TSCA that Congress passed in 2016. In that law, we explicitly authorized EPA’s work to ban methylene chloride-based paint strippers because of their dangerous effects on both workers and the

Senate, House Reach Deal On $7 Billion State Budget

on March 16, 2019 - 8:39am
By ANDREW OXFORD
 
The New Mexico Senate and House of Representatives appeared to have an agreement on a $7 billion state budget late Friday after ironing out differences over pay for educators, funding for roads and college athletics.
 
In the end, the biggest sticking point turned out to be a tiny but politically fraught piece of the spending plan: $700,000 for legislators to hire additional staff.
 
The House passed the budget Feb. 21 and the Senate approved a series of changes on Wednesday.

Heinrich, Gardner Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation To Address Workforce Shortage In Tech Industry

on March 15, 2019 - 1:05pm
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
 
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) reintroduced the Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act Wednesday to provide workers from all backgrounds with the skills and training they need to fill good-paying tech jobs.
 
The American economy is dependent on the technology industry to create jobs and expand economic growth. In New Mexico, the average tech industry wage is $87,400 a year, which is almost double the average state wage.

Senate Panel Pares Back Proposed Tax Increases

on March 15, 2019 - 10:51am
Corporations and Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Clemente Sanchez
 
By ANDREW OXFORD
A Senate committee rolled back proposed tax increases in a sprawling bill that would change rates on internet sales, car purchases, e-cigarettes and more.
 
House Bill 6 represented a push by top Democrats in the House of Representatives to shore up the state's finances, which now rest largely on revenue from oil and gas.

Senate, House Differ On Details Of Hefty State Budget

on March 15, 2019 - 10:05am
By ANDREW OXFORD
The New Mexico House of Representatives rejected the Senate's proposed budget on Wednesday, raising objections related to teacher pay, road funding and the pension plan for public employees.
 
The differences are not insurmountable, leaders in both chambers insisted, but they delayed final action on a whopping $7 billion spending plan.
 
The Senate approved its version earlier in the day with a vote of 39 to 2. But the House voted overwhelmingly against that budget, leaving some questions over how to divvy up appropriations as the state

Minimum Wage Fight Continues As Session Nears End

on March 15, 2019 - 9:22am
The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Courtesy/SFNM
 
By ROBERT NOTT
The state House of Representatives and the Senate may be on a collision course when it comes to how best to reset New Mexico's minimum wage law, a priority issue for Democrats in this year's legislative session.
 
That's because the House on Wednesday night refused to budge on its proposal to the raise the statewide minimum wage to $12 an hours by Jan. 1, 2022 and then increase it in future years with a cost-of-living bump.
 
The Senate, however, has approved a more modest proposal designed to increase

Coyote-Killing Contest Ban Now Up To Governor

on March 15, 2019 - 9:20am
Bill 76 Co-sponsor Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque
 
By ROBERT NOTT
The Legislature has sent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham a bill that would outlaw coyote killing contests in New Mexico.
 
A 37-30 vote late Tuesday by the House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 76 came after the Senate approved the measure last week on a vote of 22-17.
 
As to whether the governor plans to sign it into law, spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said Wednesday only that, "At this point, we're reviewing the legislation."
 
The House vote came after a two-hour plus debate that was often

Education Spending Plans Go To The Governor

on March 15, 2019 - 8:38am
By ROBERT NOTT
The state Senate and House of Representatives approved identical plans Wednesday for how New Mexico should spend a big boost in public education funding, sending the two measures to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
 
Both Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 5 provide for an additional $450 million in public education spending next year, including $113 million aimed at providing support for at-risk students and an extra $38 million to increase teacher pay.
 
While much of the content of the bills mirrored earlier versions debated last week, there was one

Legislative Roundup: March 15

on March 15, 2019 - 8:22am
By The New Mexican
 
Days left in session: 1
 
Recreational marijuana unlikely: The likelihood that New Mexicans will be able to access legal recreational cannabis is fading away.
 
On Friday, Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said he thought the bill "probably will not get heard" in the Senate Finance Committee, where it's been sitting since the House of Representatives voted 36-34 to approve the proposal.
 
Friday is the last full day of the session and the last planned meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.
 
An amended

Bill Expunging Criminal Records Clears NM Senate

on March 14, 2019 - 10:56am
By MILAN SIMONICH
Committing a crime might be easy enough. Getting a criminal record expunged in New Mexico is more difficult than almost anywhere in the West.
 
Now that is close to changing. The New Mexico Senate on Wednesday voted 28-13 for a bill clearing the way for both the wrongly accused -- and those who committed certain crimes -- to petition a court for expunction of those records.
 
The proposal, House Bill 370, probably would be most important to people convicted of drug offenses or lower-level property crimes.
 
But even they would have no

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