12-18-09 State briefs

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By The Staff

Gov. proposing ethics bills

SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson wants the 2010 Legislature to pass an ethics reform package that includes an independent ethics commission.

Lawmakers  convene Jan. 19 for a 30-day session.

Richardson proposes an ethics commission that would provide independent oversight of the executive and legislative branches and state employees. The commission would investigate complaints by citizens and whistleblowers and would be able to investigate and discipline public officials, state employees, lobbyists, contractors and officials.

Richardson also wants lawmakers to ban campaign contributions from corporations, state contractors and lobbyists and prohibit candidates from using taxpayer money or state resources for public service announcements except in emergencies in which the announcement is directly related to a candidate’s official function.

Board approves furlough dates

SANTA FE — The state Personnel Board has approved Gov. Bill Richardson’s proposed changes to furlough days for 17,000 state government employees.

As expected, the board voted Wednesday to support the plan, which was aimed at easing a paycheck squeeze on workers during the holidays.

Under the changes, a planned furlough for Dec. 31 was shifted to March 5. Without the change, three consecutive paychecks would have been reduced because of unpaid furloughs. The other furlough dates are Dec. 24, Jan. 15, April 2 and May 28.

The furloughs, which are aimed at helping address a state budget shortfall, do not apply to public schools and colleges or other branches of government such as the courts, nor to about 4,100 workers in public safety and health jobs.

Requiring workers to take days off without pay will save the state $8.1 million.