Much may happen behind scenes

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PACs have long history in state for targeting specific leaders

By Jay Miller

Susana-PAC has been formed to help elect courageous state and local leaders committed to the types of reforms that will move New Mexico forward.
We were all rather surprised when former Gov. Bill Richardson kept his political action committee going strong even after he won his second term as governor and dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But now Gov. Susana Martinez has taken the idea a step further. First she used leftover PAC money from her campaign to buy radio ads and make robocalls to promote her legislative agenda.
Now she has created a second PAC to help fund state and local candidates who agree with her issues. What are those issues?
 Martinez names three in her fundraising announcement — repealing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, school reforms and lowering taxes.
Martinez’s e-mail announcement came from a post office box in Albuquerque so it is legit as far as not using government money. The forwarded e-mail I received happened to come from a state employee. It went to a personal e-mail address so that is OK.
It does raise the question, however, of how many state employees received that solicitation. The person who received this e-mail has no idea how Susana-PAC got his personal e-mail address.
Richardson helped legislative candidates also, sometimes even in primary elections. But he did it more quietly than Martinez. Maybe this is part of the “boldness” she talked about.
Gov. Martinez didn’t get off to an especially bold start. Political observers somewhat expected her to hit the legislature with an overwhelming array of programs and promises as Richardson had.
But Martinez started slowly, taking her time with cabinet appointments and submitting legislation primarily in areas with which she had worked as a district attorney.
So we will see a different type of boldness from Martinez. She has demonstrated that boldness in the area of relaxing regulations on businesses — big and small.
Perhaps her biggest impact has been on the construction industry. She wants to streamline inspections and permitting so homes and buildings can be built quicker and easier.
She thinks the job can be done with many fewer people.
Reports I am receiving indicate that staff reductions already are on their way.
Soon after her election, Gov. Martinez appointed a Small Business-Friendly Task Force to study all the rules and regulations of state government and determine which could be revised or rescinded to help small businesses.
The task force spent 90 days beginning in early January on its task and issued its 13-page report on April 1.
Its first recommendation was that no state rule or regulation should be stronger than federal standards.
The report contains a six-page appendix relating solely to regulations of the Environment Department. Some 43 areas are identified for change.
Well over half of them are not federally required. That likely means that in the last eight years the Environment Department was very busy strengthening its rules and regulations. Did these changes hurt New Mexico’s ability to attract and retain businesses? Probably.
Will revising or rescinding them jeopardize the health, safety or welfare of New Mexicans? Probably.
Ideally, all factors will be carefully considered. But that isn’t likely.
Environmentalists reigned during the past eight years. Business will have its way now.
The task force is totally composed of business people. Not many can claim to be small business.
The 43 areas they want changed in the Environmental Department mostly affect big business.
This is going to be a huge undertaking.
The 26 or so task force members will probably work independently or in small groups to draft new regulations worded to their desires.
Administrative changes do not normally require legislation, so much may happen quietly behind closed doors.

Jay Miller