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Measure To Prevent Surprise Health Care Billing Passes New Mexico House Of Representatives

on March 5, 2019 - 8:23am
SANTA FE ― The House of Representatives unanimously has passed House Bill 207 to protect New Mexicans from surprise billing costs.
House Bill 207, sponsored by Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), protects people with health insurance from out of network and unexpected billing costs.
Surprise billing occurs when a patient goes for care to a hospital or clinic in their insurance network. But, if they are cared for by an out of network provider, the patient can receive a balance bill far above their regular deductible.

Bill To Prevent Predatory Towing Advances

on March 5, 2019 - 8:12am
SANTA FE Monday, a bill to prevent predatory towing passed the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 491, sponsored by Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Christine Trujillo (D-Albuquerque) would add a new section to the Unfair Practices Act to make it an unfair or deceptive practice to tow or immobilize a vehicle from an apartment complex without giving 10 days’ written notice.
“This bill was inspired by the story of a Purple Heart veteran whose special license plate was stolen from his vehicle, and then his vehicle was towed away in the middle

Legislative Roundup: March 5

on March 5, 2019 - 7:43am
Luann McConnell from the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces spins wool Monday in the state Capitol during Culture Day at the Legislature. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican
A stack of tortillas decorated with stenciled patterns using cinnamon, colored sugars, Nutella and butter sit in a stack of edible art Monday at a booth in the state Capitol during Culture Day at the Legislature. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican
SFNM News:
Days left in the session: 12
Another state song: O, Fair New Mexico has been the state song since 1973. New Mexico

SFCIR: Former LANL Director, Sig Hecker, To Discuss 'What's Next For North Korea?' March 21

on March 5, 2019 - 7:41am
Dr. Sig Hecker
Dr. Sig Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory will present a discussion entitled "What’s Next for North Korea?" at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at Hotel Santa Fe Hacienda and Spa, 1501 Paseo de Peralta.
The presentation will be introduced and moderated by Valerie Plame, former covert CIA operations officer.
2017 was a very dangerous year on the Korean Peninsula, with regular nuclear tests and a war of words with President Trump – from “dotard” to “Little Rocket Man”. However, rapid North/South rapprochement and the Singapore

Gun Buyer Background Check Bill Clears Legislature

on March 4, 2019 - 10:57pm

The New Mexico House of Representatives voted 42-27 late Monday to approve a bill that would expand requirements for instant federal background checks on buyers of firearms in the state.
Exceptions would include sales of antique firearms or any sale involving immediate family members. It would not affect transactions involving guns that are loaned, gifted or inherited either.
The Senate already had narrowly approved Senate Bill 8, on a vote of 22-20 on Feb. 14, the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting in a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Governor Cheers House Passage Of Legislation Expanding Background Checks, Boosting Public Safety

on March 4, 2019 - 10:43pm

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

From the Office of the Governor:

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the following statement late today after the New Mexico House approved Senate Bill 8, a common-sense public safety measure that will expand background checks on firearm sales, closing loopholes used by individuals with dangerous histories.
The Senate approved the legislation on Feb. 14.
One of several important gun safety measures introduced during this legislative session, Senate Bill 8 is a step toward ensuring safe and proper firearm ownership in the state.

House OKs Public-Private Partnerships For Roads And Broadband Projects

on March 4, 2019 - 6:53pm
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom
More than 35 states allow partnerships in which private entities can bid to help finance and build government-owned facilities.
New Mexico is not yet one of those states. But it could be if a bill that the House of Representatives approved Friday by a vote of 64-0 makes it into law.
House Bill 286, sponsored by five lawmakers from both political parties, would allow any government agency in the state to enter into a long-term agreement with a private entity to finance and build road and broadband infrastructure.

Small Biz Tax Credit Passes House Floor Unanimously

on March 4, 2019 - 9:46am

House Dist. 43 Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos)


SANTA FE – House Bill 526, the bipartisan Laboratory Contract with Small Business Tax Credit, Sunday passed the House Floor unanimously. Representatives Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Abbas Akhil (D-Albuquerque), Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho) and Joseph Sanchez (D-Alcalde) introduced the bill.

House Bill 526 increases the maximum tax credit amounts for Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories for contracting with New Mexico small businesses through the New Mexico Small Business Assistant Act (NMSBA).

Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján Statement On House Vote To Close Charleston Loophole

on March 4, 2019 - 9:18am
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) issued the following statement on the House vote Thursday to close the “Charleston Loophole:”
“For an entire generation, Congress has responded to the murder of children, churchgoers, and individuals within our communities due to gun violence with a hollow call for thoughts and prayers. But while we prayed, Americans were murdered by the thousands.
“Today, we took another action to end senseless violence.

Bill Would Prevent Lobbyist Spending During Session

on March 4, 2019 - 8:28am
It is hard to find even a bottle of water in the state Capitol that hasn't been paid for by some special interest group.
But that could change. At the very least, New Mexicans could get a much better idea of what all those groups are lobbying for at the state Capitol.
The state House of Representatives voted 62-0 Sunday night to pass a bill that would ban lobbyists from making any expenditures on legislators while they are in session.
House Bill 131, which now goes to the state Senate, was originally written to require lobbyists to report which pieces

House OKs Ethics Bill With Election ‘Blackout’

on March 4, 2019 - 7:17am
The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Courtesy/SFNM
Election season might seem like the perfect time for a government ethics watchdog to be on high alert.
But in setting up a new statewide ethics commission, lawmakers are proposing to curtail its work during the height of election years -- or even for the entirety of the campaign season.
Some legislators contend the commission needs a sort of blackout period to avoid political adversaries from filing complaints solely for the purpose of derailing a candidate's campaign.
Advocates have been

Governor Nominates Regents For Northern, ENMU, Highlands, NMMI And WNMU

on March 4, 2019 - 7:11am

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham


SANTA FE ― Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Thursday announced nine appointments to the boards of regents for Northern New Mexico College, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Military Institute and Western New Mexico University.

In an executive message to the state Senate, the governor submitted to the Rules Committee the following nominees:

  • Erica Rita Velarde to the Northern New Mexico College Board of Regents for a six-year term through Dec. 31, 2024.
  • Porter Swentzell to the Northern New Mexico College Board of Regents for

Gender-Free Restrooms Bill Passes House

on March 4, 2019 - 6:57am
SANTA FE The House of Representatives has passed a measure to establish gender-free restrooms for single-occupant restrooms in places of public accommodation.
House Bill 388/a, sponsored by Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), will ensure that women, families, the LGBTQ+ community, and New Mexicans with disabilities feel safe when accessing the restroom.
According to a study by the Williams Institute Manager of Transgender Research, 70% of transgender and gender-nonconforming participants experienced problems, including violence and harassment, in

Naphesh: $300 Mil Pays The Bill

on March 4, 2019 - 6:54am
Executive Director
New Mexico Thrives
When you finish eating at a restaurant, you get a bill, and you pay for it. Simple, right? But what if you just left, without paying the tab? What if you “dined and dashed”?
Most would say, that’s not right. But that’s how state government has been run for eight years. Schools have been in session. Cars have traveled our roads. New Mexicans have gotten the flu or broken an arm and have needed medical services. But state government has dined and dashed. The schools have been starved. The roads have been crumbling.

Bill To Limit Property Tax Break Advances

on March 3, 2019 - 5:53pm
Matthew Lobato of the Santa Fe County Assessor's Offfice uses a handheld laser Thursday to make measurements so he can create an exterior footprint sketch of a new home. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican
Christopher Oakeley of the Santa Fe County Assessor's Office looks along an exterior wall and makes measurements using a laser device Thursday on Las Brisas Street in Santa Fe. Photo by Gabriela Campos/The New Mexican
A state House committee on Thursday approved legislation to eliminate a property tax break enjoyed by some owners of

Letter To The Editor: Red Vs. Blue

on March 3, 2019 - 5:37pm
Los Alamos
For too long, the game of “Red Vs. Blue” politics has been played at the national level. We cheer for our “team” to win, regardless of WHO that person really is or what they stand for.
We look for the “R” or “D” on the ballot and check the box without thinking. Political news is not about legislation, but rather about one side attacking the other. This kind of thinking and actions are not limited to one side. Both major parties engage in belittling the others in an attempt to gain momentum for their party or attention.

House Passes Safety Measure For Hotel Employees

on March 3, 2019 - 7:50am
SANTA FE Thursday, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 139/a sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson (D-Albuquerque) to protect hotel employees from violence, sexual harassment, or other emergencies by providing a panic button for employees who work alone.
“This is a common-sense measure that is an industry best practice. A panic button is a tool for hotel employees that work alone to keep themselves safe while doing their job.

Governor Fills Pair Of Supreme Court Seats

on March 3, 2019 - 7:49am
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
SANTA FE Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced her selections for a pair of judicial vacancies, one each in the Sixth Judicial District and in the Second Judicial District, Criminal Court:
  • James B. Foy: Sixth Judicial District; and
  • Daniel E. Ramczyk: Second Judicial District.
James Foy has been engaged in private practice in Silver City since 2005 and demonstrated expertise in New Mexico criminal law over a career of more than three decades.

Los Alamos County Board Of Registration Reviews List Of Inactive Voters For Removal From Rolls

on March 3, 2019 - 6:35am

Los Alamos County Board of Registration met Tuesday to review a list of 211 inactive voters. Courtesy/LAC


The Los Alamos County Board of Registration (Board) met Tuesday, Feb. 26, to review the list of 211 inactive voters to ascertain whether they met the criteria to be purged from the voter rolls. 

The list of voters was compiled through unbiased efforts of the New Mexico Secretary of State (NM SOS), per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, (NVRA). 

Los Alamos County Council appointed board members, which included Catherine Ozment (D); Chris Luchini (L) and Brenda

Lawmakers Question Carbon Capture And Sequestration Tech Proposed In Plan To Keep San Juan Plant Running

on March 3, 2019 - 6:26am
Coal miners from San Juan County stand during a hearing Saturday on Senate Bill 489 before the state Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. They pleaded with lawmakers to adopt an amendment to the bill that would allow the San Juan Generating Station to continue operating. Jane Phillips/For The New Mexican
Senate Bill 489, the sweeping Energy Transition Act, whips up tensions at a hearing Saturday before the state Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. Jane Phillips/For The New Mexican
Senate Bill 489, the sweeping Energy Transition Act, whips up tensions at a

Senate Finance Committee Restores Bill Creating Early Education Department

on March 3, 2019 - 6:25am
Just days after the Senate Education Committee drastically pared down a bill creating a new early childhood education department -- stripping much of its oversight of programs for young children -- the bill's sponsor, Sen. Michael Padilla, convinced another panel of lawmakers to reverse the changes.
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved an amendment Thursday undoing the earlier move, which would have torn the proposed new department in half.
"We heard a rallying cry that people want full accountability and continuity across the

Bill To Prevent Auto Theft Statewide Advances

on March 3, 2019 - 6:15am


SANTA FE – A bill to help prevent auto theft around the state has passed the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 529, sponsored by Rep. Raymundo Lara (D-Chamberino), would create an automobile theft prevention fund to help provide resources to prevent vehicle theft.

“This bill is about prevention,” Rep. Raymundo Lara said. “In order to lower our rates of auto theft, we have to create a comprehensive, statewide framework in connection with multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Legislative Roundup: March 3

on March 3, 2019 - 6:13am

By The New Mexican

Days left in session: 13

Early childhood education: A proposed constitutional amendment to expand early childhood education might get its first hearing Monday in the Senate.

The big question is whether it can survive the Democrat-controlled Rules Committee.

House Joint Resolution 1 has been a priority for Democrats in the House of Representatives. But the Senate will be a tougher test.

Though Democrats have a 7-4 majority on the Rules Committee, a few of them might not be on board with the proposal, leaving its fate unclear.

House Oks Sweeping Tax Reform Along Party Lines

on March 2, 2019 - 1:59pm
The New Mexico House of Representatives approved a sweeping tax-reform bill late Friday night that would generate at least $320 million more each year for the state's general fund.
Republican lawmakers critical of the move called it one of the biggest tax increases in New Mexico history.
The bill, approved on a vote of 40-25 after nearly three hours of debate, also would bring in $37 million per year in additional funding for state and local roadways.
Not surprisingly, the vote fell mostly along party lines, with two conservative Democrats joining

Dyslexia Testing Bill Headed For Senate Floor

on March 2, 2019 - 1:49pm
Clarence Efroymson, 11, sits in class as Corrie Shapiro, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at the May Center for Learning in Santa Fe, teaches a lesson Wednesday. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Ben Becker, 11, reads 'No Fear Shakespeare' during class Wednesday at the May Center for Learning in Santa Fe. Photo by Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
The kids in his class called Francisco Sandoval dumb.
He couldn't read when he was in the first and second grades, the 11-year-old told members of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.