Today's News

  • Lobbyist shares insight into GRT bill

    Scott Scanland, a lobbyist for Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos Public Schools, explained to members of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Jan. 12 how state legislators may react to Senate Bill 17, a bill to keep gross receipts taxes flowing into the county from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    State Sen. Carlos Cisneros (D-6) and State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) are sponsoring the bill.

    Scanland said he talked to legislators over the summer, when the state budget picture looked bleak.

    “The budget situation was a little gloomy, and we were able to put forth a pretty persuasive argument that you don’t want to shoot a hole in your foot, and blow a hole in the budget and not pass the legislation,” Scanland said. “The Senate Finance Committee members really got it.”

    He said that viewpoint continues to hold true, even though the state is projecting it will have more dollars to spend for the next budget.

    Scanland expects the bill to make a smooth transition from the Senate Appropriations Committee into the Senate Finance Committee.

  • New Mexico lawmakers move to form Hispanic Caucus

    SANTA FE (AP) — State senators in New Mexico are moving to create a bipartisan Legislative Hispanic Caucus amid declining Latino leadership numbers.

    Their action comes as the Democratic-led New Mexico Senate is facing criticism from a national group representing Hispanic elected officials over the lack of diversity in its leadership.

    Sen. Jacob Candelaria submitted a letter Thursday to the New Mexico Senate seeking formal recognition of the caucus in a state with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents in the nation. "Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in positions of power in government, including the Legislature, and in the private sector," the letter said.

    Sen. John Sapien, a Corrales Democrat, said that he and other Hispanic lawmakers previously opted not to form a caucus since there were Hispanics in legislative leadership positions. But, he says, that changed in recent days after

    Senate Democrats selected an all-white leadership team for the first time since 1986.

    Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said he was shocked to learn that the New Mexico Senate Democrats elected a leadership team without any Hispanics.

  • Clues sought in crash that killed Zimbabwe opposition leader

    By P. SOLOMON BANDA and NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press

    RATON, N.M. (AP) — A husband and wife who pushed for political change in Zimbabwe, an adventurous Texas investor and a pair of decorated pilots died in a fiery helicopter crash in a remote area of New Mexico.

    Investigators will comb through the charred wreckage in search for clues as to why the helicopter carrying the group of prominent friends went down after dark Wednesday.

    Friends and family members confirmed Thursday that Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett and his wife, Heather, had traveled to New Mexico to spend their holiday with friend and wealthy businessman Charles Burnett III at his ranch.

    Burnett's friends, pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd of Colorado and co-pilot Paul Cobb of Texas, were ferrying the group aboard a Huey UH-1 when it went down.

    Despite frigid temperatures that evening, the weather appeared to be clear and the wind was mild as they headed east over a rugged area toward Burnett's ranch. The only survivor was Andra Cobb, the co-pilot's daughter and Burnett's long-term partner. She was able to escape before the helicopter burst into flames.

  • Best of the Bee
  • 2018 State Legislature: Legislative Roundup Jan. 17, 2018

    Days remaining in session: 27
    Hispanic caucus takes shape: Capitol Hill has got the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. But what about the Capitol in the state where nearly half of residents are Hispanic?

    On Thursday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers created the Legislative Hispanic Caucus, which will, as they put it in a letter, advocate on behalf of Hispanics and under-represented communities across New Mexico.

    The group comes the same week as Senate Democrats elected Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque to serve as their new whip – meaning not a single Hispanic member would be part of the party’s leadership in that chamber.

    But lawmakers insisted Thursday the new group is not a response to that vote.

    “The leadership is what the leadership is,” said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, a Democrat from Albuquerque who is one of the founding members of the new group and had been mentioned as a possible whip before Stewart’s election.

    Mentioning the educational achievement gap, poverty, health care and other issues marked by racial and ethnic disparities, Candelaria said the aim of the group is to provide a “coordinated, systemic way to address these issues.”
    The new caucus, which starts with 15 members, is open to members of both chambers, both parties and all ethnic groups.

  • Oil, gas spends big on campaigns, PACs

    The New Mexican

    Oil and gas industry revenues pay a huge share of the money that goes into the state budget. And lobbyists for big oil companies pay a huge amount of campaign contributions to New Mexico politicians.

    An analysis of lobbyist expense reports filed in recent days with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office shows oil companies dominate the list of the largest donors to campaigns and political committees since last October.

    By far the biggest contributor among lobbyists in the new batch of reports was the Austin, Texas-based Stephen Perry, Chevron USA’s state government affairs manager for Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Perry listed $183,250 in contributions. That’s more than a third of the total of $521,164 in political donations listed in all the new reports.

    “Wow. That’s an incredible amount of money for the year before the election,” said Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause when told of the contributions by Chevron’s lobbyist. Referring to all the lobbyist money she said, “It keeps exploding every year.”

  • Police seek help identifying suspects in burglary of county building

    Los Alamos Police Department is offering a $400 reward for information leading to the arrest of two men caught on surveillance cameras burglarizing a county maintenance facility on Entrada Drive.

    The burglary occurred at 12:38 a.m. Jan. 8 The police had no leads as of 10 a.m. Thursday.

    A surveillance video showed the suspects loading several chainsaws into a wheelbarrow and leaving the building. Anyone with information is encouraged to call L.A. Crime Stoppers at 662-8282. People reporting tips can remain anonymous.

  • Balderas calls for banking legislation for legal marijuana

    Attorney General Hector Balderas joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general urging Congress to advance legislation allowing states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana to bring that commerce into the banking system.

    Banks and other depository institutions are not allowed by federal law to provide financial services to marijuana businesses, even in states where those businesses are regulated.

    “New Mexican businesses that supply medical marijuana to treat veterans with PTSD and cancer patients must have a lawful banking system that allows them to conduct business safely and securely,” said Attorney General Balderas Tuesday. “A regulatory system that forces businesses to operate in the shadows increases the risk of criminal activity and is contrary to the rule of law.”

    The letter, sent to congressional leaders Tuesday, requests legislation that would provide a legal “safe harbor” for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that regulates its marijuana industry.

  • Hecker to speak about nuclear N. Korea Jan. 27 at LDS church

    Former Los Alamos National Laboratory director and employee Dr. Siegfried Hecker will speak about the fear of a nuclear crisis in North Korea at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Latter Day Saints Church in Los Alamos.

    The fear of a nuclear crisis in North Korea that gripped much of the United States in 2017, was followed by a ray of hope in early 2018.

    Hecker will provide an assessment of North Korea’s nuclear program and what the future may bring during his lecture,

    “Update on Nuclear North Korea and a Tour Around the Rest of the Nuclear World.”

    Hecker will also provide a brief summary of his views of the nuclear challenges around the globe – particularly, developments in Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and the threats from terrorist networks.
    Hecker is a professor of research in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and a senior fellow at the

    Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). He was co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) from 2007-2012.

    From 1986 to 1997, Hecker served as the fifth director of the LANL. Hecker first joined the LANL as a summer graduate student in 1965.

  • Zimbabwe opposition leader dies in New Mexico helicopter crash

    By MARY HUDETZ and FARAI MUTSAKA, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A fiery helicopter crash killed key Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett while on holiday in a remote part of the U.S. state of New Mexico and four others aboard, friends and authorities said.

    State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo confirmed Bennett's death Thursday, a day after a helicopter carrying him and five others went down in a mountainous rural area of northern New Mexico. One person survived the crash, whose cause was not yet known.

    Obert Gutu, spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change opposition party, described the death of Bennett, 60, a white man who spoke fluent Shona and drew the wrath of former President Robert Mugabe, as a "huge and tragic loss." Bennett's wife, Heather, also died, Gutu said.

    Bennett, treasurer-general of the MDC-T party, won a devoted following of black Zimbabweans for passionately advocating political change. He was known as "Pachedu," meaning "one of us" in Shona and was often called the sharpest thorn in Mugabe's side. He won a parliamentary seat in a rural constituency despite being white, angering the strongman and his ruling ZANU-PF party.