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Today's News

  • The legislative life: Part-time, unpaid, fixed-length sessions? Not quite.

     Legislators go to meetings. That’s what they do.

    Legislators also get a lot of mail, both paper delivered by the postal service and email. Some of the mail, maybe much of it, is read. The proportion of read mail might be a measure of legislator diligence or engagement. 

    Our legislators are described as unpaid, part-time, citizen legislators who meet in fixed-length sessions or 30 and 60 days in alternate years. 

    None of this is quite true. 

    Though legislators get no salary, there is a $164 per diem to allegedly cover expenses during the session in Santa Fe or for other legislative business, such as interim committee meetings. The amount is laughable. Few decent hotel rooms in Santa Fe cost less than $164.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Senate Dems: ‘A new day on the horizon for New Mexico’

    BY DANIEL J. CHACON
    The New Mexican

    Senate Democrats said Tuesday that New Mexico’s future looks bright – partly because it doesn’t include outgoing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who also struck a combative tone at the start of the 30-day legislative session.

    “There’s a new day on the horizon for the state of New Mexico,” said Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, who delivered the response from his caucus to Martinez’s final State of the State address.

    “Soon, we will have a new leadership team that will guide the state in providing more jobs, better classrooms, protection for our environment (and) safer places for our communities to raise our families and lead prosperous lives,” he said.

    “New Mexico has been on too many of the lists, at the bottom, for far too long.”

    In her speech, Martinez, who leaves office at the end of this year, focused on issues she has been working on since she was first elected governor in 2010. These included longer criminal sentences and mandatory retention of hundreds or even thousands of third-graders who are not proficient on standardized reading tests.

    But Democrats indicated they were ready to move on.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Clock ticking on nursing compact

    BY ANDREW OXFORD
    The New Mexican

    Lawmakers face a hard deadline this week to make sure that dozens or even hundreds of nurses can continue working in New Mexico.

    Legislators have until midnight Friday to approve a new nurse licensing compact, an update to an agreement that allows nurses licensed in other states to practice in New Mexico without getting a separate certificate.

    Hospitals say the compact is key to recruiting in a state facing a shortage of medical professionals. Missing the deadline to join the new system would leave New Mexico with fewer nurses to care for patients, they say.

    Though not much usually happens during the first days of a legislative session, the high stakes amid a particularly rough flu season have forged what appears to be a bipartisan consensus that lawmakers must approve the compact and fast during their 30-day gathering that begins at noon Tuesday.

    “We’ll get it done by Thursday or maybe even Wednesday,” said Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. With Sens. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, and Howie Morales, D-Silver City, he is sponsoring a bill to join the new compact.

  • SF Women’s March to feature Rep. Luján, Valerie Plame

    The Santa Fe Women’s March 2018 is scheduled to begin at the Roundhouse at noon on Sunday. Marchers will walk to the Santa Fe Plaza where a variety of speakers will talk on this year’s theme of “Resistance, Perseverance, Revolution and Solidarity.”

    “People have asked why are we marching. We are marching for women, our bodies, our rights, we’re marching for men, children, immigrants the poor, the Dreamers, the disenfranchised, the environment, Mother Earth, human, nonhuman animals. We’re marching for you, for me and for all of us,” event organizer Karen Kane said.

    Speakers include Congressman Ben Ray Luján, Madeleine Carey of Wild Earth Guardians and ex-CIA Agent Valerie Plame.

    The march has a Facebook page at facebook.com/Santa-Fe-Womens-March-2018.

    The event also has a gofundme page at gofundme.com/womensmarch2018santafe.

    There will be a poster party Saturday at the Santa Fe Democratic Party headquarters, 1420 Cerrillos Road from 2- 4 p.m. Shirts and other apparel are available at Roadrunner Screen Printers, 1235 Siler Road.

  • UT faces regional coalition, again

    Texas A&M University emphasized the university system’s diversity and its commitment to nuclear engineering during a presentation to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Friday. 

    This was the second time the university faced the board. The first time was at a breakfast in December.

    Texas A&M is one of three university bidders that made public their bid for the next $2 billion-plus management and operations contract to operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Texas A&M Assistant Vice Chancellor of the university’s Office of Federal Relations, A. Scott Sudduth, went before the coalition Friday to emphasize the university’s promise that it will be committed to supporting the interests and goals of the coalition if it is picked by the Department of Energy to be the next contractor.

    He said the 11 universities and seven state agencies that make up the university system have a very diverse workforce.

    “…including five majority of Hispanic serving institution and one historically black college and university,” Sudduth said. “We are a very diverse organization.”

  • State attorneys general sue to block net-neutrality repeal

    NEW YORK (AP) — The expected wave of litigation against the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net-neutrality rules has begun.

    A group of attorneys general for 21 states and the District of Columbia sued Tuesday to block the rules. So did Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, and New America's Open Technology Institute. Other public-interest groups are expected to file suit as well, and the tech-industry lobbying group has said it will support litigation.

    The rules barred companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's push to undo them inspired both street and online protests in defense of the Obama-era rules.

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the suit, said Tuesday that the end of the net neutrality rules would hurt consumers and businesses.

    FCC spokesman Brian Hart declined to comment on the litigation.

    The lawsuits are part of a multi-pronged approach against the net-neutrality repeal. There are efforts by Democrats to undo the repeal in Congress. State lawmakers have also introduced bills to protect net neutrality in their own states.

    However, the FCC's order bars state laws from contradicting the federal government's approach.

  • New Mexico nuclear waste repository closed for maintenance

    CARLSBAD (AP) — The nation's only underground nuclear waste repository is undergoing its first maintenance outage since it resumed operations a year ago.

    Before then, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant had been shut down for three years because radiation contaminated part of the facility.

    The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that maintenance crews will be updating power supplies, relocating fiber-optic cables and replacing other parts in the underground mine.

    The work is expecting to last until Jan. 26. Waste shipments will be on hold until the following week.

    The facility disposes of waste from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research.
     

  • 2018 State Legislature: Lawmakers vote to expand harassment policy Monday

    By Andrew Oxford The New Mexican New Mexico lawmakers voted Monday to expand the state Capitol's harassment policy, updating a nearly 10-year-old code amid recent controversies over misconduct and discrimination in legislatures around the country.

    The new policy calls for an outside lawyer to investigate allegations against lawmakers, bringing a measure of independent oversight to the Legislature's handling of misconduct. The new policy also lays out a more specific definition of harassment and requires training for lawmakers every two years.

    Adopted in 2008, the previous policy totaled two pages (the new one is five) and appeared to apply only to legislative staff rather than lawmakers themselves. It also tasked legislative leaders and staff with investigating allegations, rather than an independent committee or lawyers.

    Some legislators had argued its provisions slanted the process of reporting and investigating harassment against victims, discouraging them from stepping forward. But in recent months, amid national debate over harassment and chauvinism in media and politics, some women have broken their silence.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Mimi Stewart elected Senate majority whip

    By Steve Terrell

    The New Mexican

    State Sen. Mimi Stewart will replace fellow Democrat Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, as Senate majority whip, elevating her to a leadership position for the first time after 23 years in the New Mexico Legislature.

    Senate Democrats, meeting behind closed doors Monday, chose Stewart to replace Padilla, who Senate Democrats voted to remove from the post because of an old sexual harassment case that took place before he was elected to the Senate. Stewart, a retired educator, said she believes she was chosen because of hard work.

    "You know I'm a teacher by trade," she said. "I told my students, `I have eyes in the back of my head.' ... I'm able to juggle things."

    She was among eight legislators who this month helped rewrite the Legislature's anti-harassment policy after fallout from the national uproar over sexual harassment hit the Capitol.

    It's not clear whether the vote for whip was contested. At least two other senators, Linda Lopez and Jacob Candelaria, both D-Albuquerque, had expressed interest in the post.

  • My guns or my ganja? Firearm-owning pot fans face a choice

    By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The federal government says grass and guns don't mix, and that is putting gun owners who use marijuana – and the strongly pro-gun-rights administration of President Donald Trump – in a potentially uncomfortable position.

    As gun-loving Pennsylvania becomes the latest state to operate a medical marijuana program, with the first dispensary on track to begin sales next month, authorities are warning patients that federal law bars marijuana users from having guns or ammunition.

    "They're going to have to make a choice," said John T. Adams, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. "They can have their guns or their marijuana, but not both."

    That's the official line, but the reality of how the policy might be enforced in Pennsylvania and other states is a little muddier. That includes the question of whether people who already own guns might have to surrender them, instead of just being prohibited from making new purchases.

    The political sensitivity was underscored Friday when Pennsylvania regulators reversed themselves and announced its registry of medical-pot patients will not be available, as was previously planned, through the state's law enforcement computer network.