Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rep. Crook is Retiring From House

One of the Legislature's longest-serving Republicans, Rep. Anna Crook of Clovis,is joining the growing list of New Mexico lawmakers who won't be returning next year.
Rep. Crook

Crook, who has served in the House since 1995, joins House Democratic Leader Rick Miera, Appropriations Chairman Kiki Saavedra, Rep. Nate Cote of Las Cruces, and Tom Taylor, R-Farmington in announcing she won't be seeking re-electon.

“Rep. Anna Crook will undoubtedly leave behind a legacy of leadership in the state House, and she will leave big shoes to fill,” said state GOP Chairman John Billingsley in a news release this morning. “From standing up for tough legislation to teaching new Legislators the ropes, her influence in the Roundhouse will remain. We are incredibly grateful for her years of service. Holding public office does not go without great sacrifice of time and energy, and few are able to do it as gracefully as Rep. Crook. Her presence in the Legislature will be missed, but we wish her all of the best in retirement.”

Crook represents a safe Republican district, so her retirement probably won't have a big effect on the political make up of the House.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Whereas There are Too Many Dang Memorials ...

House GOP Leader Don Bratton
I’ve covered I don’t know how many legislative races in the past 30 years, but I don’t remember any candidate ever saying, “Vote for me and I’ll introduce more memorials than my opponent.”

Nevertheless, people who dropped in on a House or Senate floor session at any given time in the first three weeks or so of the recent legislative session more likely would have heard lawmakers “debating” some memorial than any actual bill.

Though lawmakers always argue that they eventually get to the serious stuff, one not versed in the ways of the Roundhouse — and some, like House Republican Leader Don Bratton of Hobbs, who are deeply knowledgeable of the system — might tend to think this amounts to a lot of wasted time.

If I had to choose a “Quote of the Session,” it probably would be something that Bratton said during a committee meeting following a lengthy debate over a nonbinding piece of legislation:

“I’m not sure why we’re killing trees for these memorials.”

For the rest of this column read it HERE at The Santa Fe New Mexican.

And though I normally don't plug columns at other New Mexico papers, Walt Rubel of the Las Cruces Sun News takes on the same topic and it's a good, funny read. That's HERE.

And if you can't get enough of the underlying politics of the recently-concluded session, see my story about the effect of the session on the governor's race.

I'm taking the next week off, so there probably won't be much happening on this blog. See you in March.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rick Miera Not Seeking Re-election

Rick Miera
This is a big one, folks. House Majority Leader Rick Miera is not seeking re-election.

A press release just just went out from House Dems didn't explain exactly why:

Santa Fe, NM - House Majority Floor Leader Rick Miera has announced he will not seek reelection as the New Mexico State Representative in District 11 (the downtown corridor of Albuquerque) - a position he has held for the last 24 years.  Majority Leader Miera says the decision was a difficult one since he has dedicated so much of his life to the legislative process, especially involving the issues of educational equity, juvenile justice and health care access issues.  However, he feels the time is right to pass the torch. 

“I have made a difficult decision to step down from State Representative District 11, providing an opportunity for a new generation of community leaders to come forward and represent the neighborhoods and families of District 11 as I have for the last 24 years,” says Majority Leader Miera.  “I am grateful to my constituents who have placed their trust in me, and during the remainder of my term I will continue to look out for their best interests.”  Rep. Miera chose to wait until after the legislative session to make his announcement, so he could focus on his role as Majority Leader and champion educational issues and job creation opportunities

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Times Change for Salt of the Earth

Back when they made the movie Salt of the Earth in the Silver City area in 1954, it was blacklisted and labeled communist propaganda.

It was about a mining strike, based on a true story of the Empire Zinc strike in 1950. The movie, directed by Herbert Biberman, deals with issues of labor, mining safety, discrimination against Hispanics and feminism (the real heroes of the film are the wives of the miners.)

But just a few moments ago, the New Mexico state Senate passed a memorial by Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, honoring the anniversary of the film. It passed unanimously with all Democrats and Republicans voting in favor.

That's a little different than the initial reception in New Mexico. From the American Film Institute:

 On 2 Mar 1953, the film's cast and crew were met by a citizen's committee in Central, NM, and ordered to leave town. The following day, in Silver City, NM, the company was warned to "get out of town...or go out in black boxes." (Actor Clinton) Jencks was beaten and shots were fired at his car while it was parked outside his home. When the company did not capitulate to the demands, there was a "citizens' parade" led by a sound car blaring, "We don't want Communism; respect the law; no violence, but let's show them we don't like it."

Happy anniversary Salt of the Earth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

House Approves Marijuana Study

But there's nothing about studying
 the effect on piano players
It's pretty clear that the Legislature isn't ready to legalize marijuana, but the House tonight formally asked the Legislative Finance Committee to study marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington.

The House voted 31-28 to approve House Memorial 38, sponsored by Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces. Twenty six Democrats and five Republicans voted for it.

Among the areas the study will look at are state revenue; agricultural production levels; llegal drug-addiction rates; state and local law enforcement resource levels; federal law enforcement efforts; and testing for high-danger jobs, such as those in heavy-equipment operation and public safety.

CORRECTED: 2-20-14 10 am I just corrected the number of Republicans and Democrats voting for the memorial. Thanks to reader Rick for pointing out my substandard math skills, which forced me to look at the vote.

Julienne Trying to Sink Haaland

Marie Julienne, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who did not file enough petition signatures to get on the ballot is challenging the nominating petitions of Debra Haaland, the other Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, trying to knock Holland off the ballot as well.
Debra Holland

Among the reasons for Julienne's challenge, which was filed last week in state district court in Albuquerque, is that some of Holland's petitions filed earlier this month, didn't include Spanish translations for words and phrases for the name of party (Democrata) or the name of the office ("asistente del gobernador").

Thus, the complaint said, those petitions "do not convey necessary and important information in Spanish required to be known by potential Spanish language signees."

Also, Julienne's complaint said, some pages abbreviated "lieutenant governor" as "Lt. Gov." instead of spelling it out.

Such alleged errors, the complaint says "demonstrates malfeasance and undermines our democratic electoral process."

Haaland said Wednesday that she is confident in her petition signatures. "I'm not worried about this, she said." She said she her attorney is looking at Julienne's complaint.

Julienne also said that many of Haaland's signatures one person signed names of others, persons not registered Democrats or not registered at address listed.

To qualify for the Democrats' pre-primary convention next month, candidates for statewide office need 2,186 signatures of registered Democrats in New Mexico. Julienne claims that Haaland, who filed a total of 3,222 signatures, actually filed only 1,043 valid signatures.

However, according to the Secretary of State's website, Julienne herself filed only 1,312 signatures, which, as the website notes, is not enough to qualify for the pre-primary convention.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Healthy Teeth, Happy Legislators

Maybe next year they'll give legislators
copies of this classic album
In my most recent report on lobbyist spending, a noted that Joe Menapace, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Dental Association spent $1,790 on a gift for legislators that he described in his report as “oral health.” 

I couldn't reach him for comment that day so I noted I couldn't say exactly what the "oral health" gift was but that I'd recently seen some electric toothbrushes on lawmakers' desks.

But I guess it wasn't the actual toothbrushes I'd seen. Menapace just emailed me and explained the association's gift was "a package containing two replacement brushes for the unit or system with a recharging base and an electric cord."

Menapace also sent this statement explaining that several years ago the groups decided not just to throw parties for the legislators.

The Dental Association’s leadership decided not to host an expensive reception or dinner in Santa Fe during legislative sessions but rather to invest in something the lawmakers would remember and appreciate not just while they were in session but year-round. The dentists’ organization chose to provide what was at the time a cutting-edge product, an electric toothbrush system that would assist the legislators in maintaining their oral health.

Sonicare brand electric toothbrush units were purchased in bulk at a substantial discount and distributed every two years, during the sixty-day sessionsto legislators. In even-numbered years, one package containing two (2) replacement brushes for the electric toothbrush units the solons received during the previous year have been provided.

This year, the NM Dental Association paid $15.99 for each of the above-referenced packages of replacement tooth brushes, far less than it might have spent had it been inclined to have sponsored food, beverage or entertainment to our busy legislators. Most importantly, however, is the dentists’ desire for the legislators to be reminded to practice sound oral health care and hopefully, the electric toothbrush units and replacement brushes will assist the legislators in doing so.

Green Chile Fightin' Words

My colleague Patrick Malone just pointed out this Denver Post blog post by Lynn Bartels (a former Albuquerque Tribune reporter) in which the very integrity of New Mexico is being questioned.

A Colorado legislator, Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, is challenging "any New Mexico legislator who is a fifth-generation resident of that state" to a chile cook-off. Crowder is a fifth-generation Coloradan, Bartels explained,

Bartels quotes Crowder: “I am a connoisseur of green chile. I understand the difference between New Mexico and Colorado green chile. I love New Mexico chile, but I also love Colorado chile. It’s not so much the chile as it is the cook.”

Crowder, for reeasons I'm not quite sure of, said he prefers the judges be religious leaders from either state.

This all goes back, of course to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's Superbowl bet, which involved green chile -- as if that were some kind of a Colorado trademark. This angered many New Mexicans, as well as God, who caused the Denver Broncos to lose in a humiliating manner.

OK, New Mexico Legislature. Which fifth-generation New Mexican is going to step up and defend the state's honor?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Webcast Fail

Although webcasting has been touted as a way for people to watch legislative meetings without having to come to the Capitol, many people who wanted to watch this morning's Senate Rules Committee hearing on Public Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera found the webcast useless.

The webcast, on the Legislature’s website, would transmit a few moments of testimony, then shut down for several minutes before coming back on. By the time senators began voting, the webcast completely shut down for some viewers.

The same type of problems occurred last week during the Rules Committee’s hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

No, it wasn’t your computer’s fault. John Yaeger, deputy director of the Legislative Council , confirmed that the large number of viewers — or would-be viewers — was responsible.

“We have a 100 (megabytes per second) line and we’ve brushed right up against limit today and several days recently,” Yaeger said. “By comparison, we generally topped out at 60 mbps last session.”

It’s doubtful that there will be a solution to the problem in the near future. So far there has been no proposed appropriation to upgrade the webcast system.

Enviro Groups Opposed to Flynn Nomination

The Senate Rules Committee voted along party lines this morning to deny confirmation of Public Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera.

Tomorrow the same committee is scheduled to consider the nomination of Environment Secretary-Designate Ryan Flynn. 

This afternoon several environmental groups including  Amigos Bravos, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, Environment New Mexico, New Mexico Environmental Law Center and Conservation Voters New Mexico announced that they oppose Flynn's nomination because of his policies.

At today's Skandera nomination there was no public hearing. This was because last year the committee heard hours and hours of public testimony about the nomination, which has been pending since the outset of Gov. Susana Martinez's administration in 2011.

This is the first time before the committee for Flynn. So expect a long hearing (and don't bet on a decision being made tomorrow).

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Not All Dems Always Opposed the Downs Deal

Several Democrats in the Legislature last week expressed concern and criticism over the New Mexico State Fair and its controversial 25-year lease negotiated between Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration with The Downs at Albuquerque to operate a racetrack and casino on the fairgrounds.

But not all Democratic lawmakers were always against The Downs deal. Back in early November 2011, at least two lawmakers on the D side wrote letters of support for what some opponents have since dubbed “The Dirty Downs Deal.”

For the rest of this column see The Santa Fe New Mexican

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Senate Judiciary Votes to Remove Marijuana as a Schedule 1 Drug

In a surprise move tonight, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to strike marijuana from the state's list of Schedule 1 controlled substances
.
This came in the form of an amendment, from Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, to Senate Bill 127, sponsored by Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, D-Sandia Park.

Wilson's bill would designate more than 100 synthetic cannabinoids and other chemicals as Schedule I substances. Schedule 1 drugs are those the government says have with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. For years drug-law reform advocates have argued that marijuana does not belong in this category.

SB 127 was aimed at synthetic drugs known as "spice" and "K2." McSorley's amendment did not affect that part of Befford's original bill.

The committee vote went along party lines with Republicans voting against the amendment.

The bill goes now to the full Senate.A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for adults died this week in the Senate Rules Committee.

Feeding the Lawmakers

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with a lobbyist I've known for years. He wanted to talk to me about a problem he sees with my ongoing coverage of lobbyist expense reports.

In short, he said his clients don't like to see themselves included in my lobbyist articles. Therefore, they ordered him not to do big events for lawmakers or make any expenditures for which he'd have to file reports. He's complied with that. I haven't seen his name in the reports for a few years.

But, my lobbyist friend told me, the real losers in this are the restaurants and bars that aren't getting the money he'd otherwise be spending. Not only the businesses, but the waiters, waitresses, busboys and dishwashers.

All because of my stupid reports on lobbyists!

I argued that all these legislators would have to be buying their own meals if the lobbyists weren't buying their own meals. He countered that when this happens, most legislators will just buy cheap hamburgers or hotdogs -- not the good, expensive food lobbyist parties offer.

He had a good point that it costs so much to stay in Santa Fe, the per diem legislators get doesn't cover much food.

I told him that it's a strange system we have where legislators for sustenance have to depend on deep-pocketed people who are trying to influence their votes.

I also told him what I always say here: Citizens have the right to know who is buying food, drink and entertainment for the people we elect to represent us.

This week's account of money spent by lobbyists is in today's New Mexican.

My previous list of lobbyist expenses reports is HERE

An earlier story on lobbyist reports ran Jan. 31. You can find that HERE

My story about the top 10 political contributors among lobbyists is HERE

Friday, February 14, 2014

Is the Minimum Wage Amendment DOA in the House?

The Senate today passed a measure that would allow voters to decide on a proposed state constitutional amendment to increase the state's minimum wage.

The question now is whether Senate Joint Resolution 13 is already dead in the House.

According to the state constitution, to get on the ballot, a proposed amendment must get a majority of elected members of both chambers. In the House, that would be 36 votes.

However, due to the fact that two House Democrats have been unable to attend the current session due to medical problems, Democrats only have 35 votes.

I'm not good at math, but that doesn't look promising. The Dems would have to hold all their members in line and peel off at least one Republican.

House Republican Whip Nate Gentry said his caucus is steadfastly opposed to using the constitution to raise the minimum wage.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-EspaƱola, would raise the minimum wage to about $8.30 an hour next year and provide for automatic annual increases based on the inflation rate.

It passed the Senate on a near-party line vote of 24-17. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, joined all Senate Republicans in voting against the measure while all other Democrats voted for it.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

No CPAC for Susana

Despite early reports that Gov. Susana Martinez would be a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) next month, a spokesman for Martinez's re-election campaign just told me that she's not going.

"Unfortunately, the governor was never able to attend due to the fact the event takes place toward the end of the legislative signing period when she is making final decisions on bills," Danny Diaz said in an email.

Martinez has until March 12 to sign or veto bills.

Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, told Univision and Fusion earlier this month that Martinez would, in fact, be among the speakers.

CPAC is scheduled for March 6-8 at National Harbor Resort in Maryland.

Real Clear Politics first reported that Martinez won't be going to CPAC.

"... the absence of Martinez will put a damper on CPAC for conference attendees eager to see and hear the nation’s first female Hispanic governor, who was elected in 2010 and gave a well-received speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa," the online publication said.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Senate Rules May Ask To Subpoena Fair Manager

The Senate Rules Committee will consider asking the full Senate to issue a subpoena to State Fair Manager Dan Mourning, who earlier this week didn't show up to a hearing about the fair and the controversial 25-lease awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque.

If approved by the full Senate, it would be the first time a subpoena for a standing legislative committee has been issued since the impeachment investigation of Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. in 2011. (Block resigned before he could be impeached.)

Rules Chairwoman Linda Lopez has drafted a resolution asking for a subpoena forcing Mourning to appear on Feb. 17.

"... despite repeated requests, Expo New Mexico general manager Dan Mourning has refused to appear before the Senate Rules Committee to provide it with information necessary for the committee to make a considered recommendation on the nomination of the executive's appointments to the State Fair Commission."

Earlier today the committee gave positive recommendations to Charles Brown and Bill Lee, two of Gov. Susana  Martinez's fair commission nominees. The full Senate later unanimously confirmed both commissioners.

However, the committee didn't act on Martinez's request to re-confirm Commission Chairman Larry Kennedy. Instead they grilled him about the operation of the fair and whether the commission or Mourning was actually running the fair.

At Monday's hearing one current and two past members of the commission testified about the Downs lease and said the administration had tried to keep fair commissioners out of the loop.

A spokesman for the governor said Monday that the hearing that day was "nothing more than a taxpayer-funded political circus orchestrated by a desperate candidate for governor where not a single new piece of information was revealed. What you saw were people with incredible axes to grind, all of whom have had their wild-eyed accusations repeatedly discredited.”

Update Feb.13: The original version of this post had the wrong date for which Mourning was being called to testify. That's been fixed but it's moot now because Mourning testified Thursday. See Friday's New Mexican.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Marijuana Amendment Stalls in Committee

Sorry, uncle
The proposed constitutional amendment to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana stalled in the Senate Rules Committee this morning.

Five senators, all Democrats, vote to pass Senate Joint (heh he heh heh) Resolution 10, sponsored by state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, on to the Senate Judiciary Committee with no recommendation.

However, Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, joined all four committee Republicans to vote against that. The measure therefore is stuck in Senate Rules, meaning unless someone has a change of mind, it's dead for this session.

Some opponents, like Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, said they are not in favor of arresting people for a few joints. However, Rue and others said they don't think it should be done by constitutional amendment.

Had SJR 10 passed the Legislature, state voters would have decided on the issue in November.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Downs Deal Hearing

Tom Tinnin
Although Gov. Susana Martinez, her consultant Jay McCleskey and State Fair Manager Dan Mourning did not appear at Senate Rules Committee to testify about the Downs racino contract this morning (nor did state Auditor Hector Balderas), three Republican critics of the Downs deal did.

These were former Fair Commission chairman and Board of Finance member Tom Tinnin, who resigned from the latter because of the deal; former Commissioner Charlotte Rode and current Commissioner Twister Smith.

All spoke about pressure from the governor's office to approve the 25-year, multi-million contract.

Also, they talk about how the Fair Commission has been "neutered"by the administration.

“If you do take a stand in the face of  corruption, you are going to be retaliated against," Rode told the committee.

"Look at the agenda and the minutes. We  never every talked about business at meetings, ever," Smith said.

"You  need to have  professional management," Tinnin said. "Keep politics out. (Politics) kills it."

Read more about this in tomorrow's New Mexican.


ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: More Freebies from Lobbyists

New Mexico is the last state with a Legislature whose members don’t get a salary. The modest per diem paid to senators and representatives often doesn’t cover their expenses, especially those who have to travel long distances and stay in Santa Fe’s expensive hotels and eat at our expensive restaurants.

But to cushion that blow, there are lobbyists, who provide food, beverage, entertainment and gifts for those doing the people’s business at the Roundhouse.

According to lobbyist expense reports, the most expensive gift filed in the past week or so are passes given by the New Mexico Golf Tourism Alliance on Thursday. The total value of the passes, which allows legislators to play on five courses around the state, was listed as $28,500. This is an annual gift the golf industry group bestows upon lawmakers.

As is the case with the ski industry, which gives ski passes to legislators every year, there is no legislation this year that directly affects golf courses, except, arguably, the Tourism Department’s budget.

On the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales thanked the alliance for the gift and praised golf as important to tourism in the state.

Read the rest of this column HERE


My previous story on lobbyist reports ran Jan. 31. You can find that HERE

My story about the top 10 political contributors among lobbyists is HERE

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Governor to Skip Racetrack Hearing

As I reported earlier this week, The Senate Rules Committee has sent invitations to Gov. Susana Martinez, her political consultant Jay McCleskey and others to speak the panel's meeting Monday morning about the State Fair, including a controversial contract with The Downs Racetrack & Casino in Albuquerque.

But Martinez will be a no-show, her spokesman Enrique Knell told me.

Asked if the governor planned to be there, Knell in an email said, "Of course not."

He then followed that with basically the same statement he gave me a couple of weeks ago for a story on the Downs deal, where he pointed out that Rules chairwoman Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, is running for governor and calling the hearing a "petty political sideshow."

I wouldn't bet money on McCleskey showing up either.

Also are invited to the hearing (8:30 Monday, Feb. 10) are Expo New Mexico General Manager Dan Mourning and State Auditor Hector Balderas.

Opponents of Martinez have said the administration gave unfair advantage to the Downs -- which includes large campaign contributors to the governor -- when awarding the multi-million dollar contract in 2011. Martinez has denied that. Proponents of the deal have said a competitive bid wasn't even required for the contract, which the Downs has held since the 1980s. No charges against anyone involved have been filed.

Susana is on Mitt's List

Although Gov. Susana Martinez repeatedly has disavowed any interest in being on the national Republican ticket, the GOP's last presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney just mentioned her as a possible contender.

Not for vice president. He's talking leader of the free world, commander-in-chief, the top job.

According to The Hill, Romney, in an interview with CNN, Romney first mentioned the usual suspects when asked about REpublican presidential candidates:

“Right now, we've got a very full group of people — Marco Rubio; Jeb Bush; Chris Christie; Rand Paul; Paul Ryan, of course, my running mate, an extraordinary man; John Kasich, governor of Ohio, doing a great job there; Scott Walker in Wisconsin,” Romney said.

Then he added, “We've got a lot of very good people. Susana Martinez in ... New Mexico. ... I didn't mention Mike Huckabee. Of course, Mike Huckabee ran before, did a fine job. He may be coming back and giving it another shot.”

The Hill noted:
Last year, Martinez said the time for a female president is “long past due.” But when asked if she would consider running on the national ticket, she said she was "focused on New Mexico."
In 2012, Martinez said serving as the guardian of her developmentally disabled sister would prevent her from living away from New Mexico.
And this basically is what Team Susana has told me and the rest of the New Mexico political media.

But as I've written before, such speculation is not likely to stop, especially if she wins reelection this year.

Battling Resolutions

I wrote a story yesterday about the state Human Services Department's response to Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez's resolution to give a vote of "no confidence" to Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier.(This web only story is HERE)

I don't think Senate Resolution 2 will be heard by the Senate today -- Sen. Sanchez just said he expects today's floor session to be short. But when it does get heard, Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington plans to introduce a substitute.

Basically the 7-page substitute, instead of expressing "no confidence" would express "the Senate's confidence in the ability of the secretary of Human Services to fairly and faithfully execute the duties of that office" and commend the secretary "for her efforts to stop fraud. waste and abuse in the state's Medicaid program."

I'm pretty sure that Sanchez won't agree with this substitute.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Some Action in the Senate Today?

Squier
There are a couple of interesting items on the Senate Calendar today.

One is the bill that would outlaw texting and driving. It's actual the first item under "Third Readings." As I've pointed out, the same basic bill, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, languished for weeks last year on the Senate calendar because Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who decides what gets heard and what doesn't, just doesn't like the bill.

He still doesn't like it, but he said Monday he expects the bill to be heard in the Senate (and to pass the full Legislature.)

The other interesting piece of legislation is Senate Resolution 2, which would give Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier a vote of no confidence. I suspect if that one is heard, it may spark some debate. 

Squirer herself wouldn't be there to defend herself, but her department provided a lengthy rebuttal in the form of a fiscal impact statement.

UPDATE; 3:08 pm : As it turned out, the Senate didn't discuss either of these items today. Oh well. One of these days ...


Monday, February 3, 2014

Garcia Richard Has an Opponent

Geoff Rodgers
State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard now has a Republican opponent in this year's general election.

Geoff Rodgers, the chairman of the Los Alamos County Council announced today that he is running for the District 43 seat. His press release doesn't say so, but he's a Republican.

District 43 is one seat state Republicans, who once again will try to wrest control of the House from the Democrats, are especially interested in. Richard in 2012 won a close race against Jim Hall, who had been appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Last year, after Richard voted against a procedural move to blast the controversial immigrant driver's license bill out of a committee, Republicans ran robo-calls in her district blasting her for her vote.

Rodgers served on the County Council from 2001-2004 and was elected again in 2010.  In 2013 he was elected as Council chairman.

He also served as the Director of Transportation for Los Alamos Public Schools for twelve years and was on the board of directors for the North Central Regional Transit District for two years.

Rodgers served for five years in the U.S Army and eight years in the U.S Army Reserves as a helicopter pilot.

House District 43 includes the entire county of Los Alamos and parts of Santa Fe, Rio Ariba, and Sandoval Counties.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: House Leaders Still Wary of Webcasting

The state Legislature has been webcasting floor sessions and some committee meetings for years. You’d think that everyone would be used to it by now and all the awful fears about showing the public what goes on in this House of Round proved to be as insignificant as the open-government, pro-transparency crowd said.

But apparently not. Something happened in the House last week that showed resistance to webcasting still is alive and well.

It happened when Rep. Jeff Steinborn’s House Resolution 2 was introduced formally. This measure would require the Legislative Council Service to save all webcasts of House committee meetings and House floor sessions, so anyone with a computer could watch any of those meetings at their convenience. (So far there has not been a similar move in the Senate.)

Tp read the rest of this go to Santa  Fe New Mexican website HERE