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Columns

  • Mining is nearly everywhere in state

    The state’s roughly 240 “active registered” mines, 83 percent of them producing aggregate and stone, employed 5,156 people in 2009, paid them $287 million, and produced minerals worth about $1.8 billion – good for a ranking of 20th nationally without counting oil and gas.
    The big value numbers come from coal ($736 million in 2009), potash ($491 million), and copper ($290 million and hiring again).
    Except for potash and salt mines around Carlsbad, the mines are located in the southwest quadrant and in a broad and mostly rural northern arc that starts at Raton, swings south to include Belen and Albuquerque, edges north and west to Grants and then goes to the Arizona.

  • Adolescents represent the most underserved group in healthcare

    The Preparticipation Physical Exam, or PPE, commonly known as a sports physical is performed over six million times in the U.S. annually and may be the only contact an adolescent or teen ever has with a physician.
    In fact, adolescents represent the most underserved population in healthcare. Traditionally, parents have viewed the PPE as a yearly, comprehensive medical evaluation, whereas physicians have held that it is more of a cursory exam in which possible limitations to sports participation may be identified.

  • Winners and losers who emerged in 2011 session

    In legislative post mortems, we’re hearing that the economy wasn’t much of a priority this year for either party.
    Not necessarily so. Economic development bills may have been overshadowed by bigger dramas, but some good bills made it to the governor; others were impaled on ideology and ignorance.
    The most obvious winner was the locomotive fuel tax credit to help Union Pacific Railroad create its $400 million rail hub in Santa Teresa, a project mothballed since 2007. A slam dunk, you might think, but no.

  • For a few dollars more

    Although seriously wounded, the bad guy was still dangerous.
    With radioactive blood oozing, he reached for the feedwater coolant release valve. But then, hearing the muffled laugh of regulatory oversight, he looked up and found himself staring into the barrel of a 357 fuel rod.  
    The inspector smiled and said, “I know what you’re thinking.  Did he hit me with an 8.6 earthquake, or was it point 5?
    Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself.

  • Gov's turn to reform

    In the recently completed 2011 legislative session, Senate Bill 17 (Keller, D-Bernalillo & Neville, R-Aztec), a bill designed to complete SIC reforms by removing the governor as chairperson, passed with wide bi-partisan support.
    It now sits on the governor’s desk waiting to be signed. SB-17 was carefully crafted in the interim, by the bipartisan Investment Oversight Committee, long before the recent gubernatorial election.  
    It is composed of original sections from the 2010 bill including sections to ensure minority party legislative appointments.  
    It now also includes an amendment that allows the Governor to serve for two more years in the Chairperson role before removing the position all together.  

  • Creativity in science and art

    When there is an economic downturn, often the first things people want to sacrifice in our schools are programs that are not considered the basics, such as art, physical education, and music.  Yet these disciplines are life skills that help us to be happier and healthier in our maturity.  But are we sacrificing something else?  First and foremost, I believe we are eliminating the teaching of creativity--creative ways of thinking, moving, and enjoying life.
    We often compartmentalize various disciplines: art is art and science is science, and in our mind they do not intersect. Furthermore, we somehow fail to value art as much as science and are more willing to do away with art.  

  • English only please

    Have you noticed how the same old divisive legislative proposals invariably get new leases on life when a fresh batch of right-leaning politicos gets elected to Congress?
    For example, it’s a safe bet that somewhere along the line, there’ll be a hue and cry to cut federal funding for public broadcasting.
    It’s equally predictable there’ll be renewed zeal for so-called “English only” legislation designed to make English the official language of these United States. This one has legs and comes back to haunt political season after political season.
    And, sure enough, it is upon us anew, thanks in part to the large cadre of Republican Tea Partiers who were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last November.

  • Efficiency in regulations

    A lack of sturdy regulation is a large, worsening problem for the nation’s economy in all its aspects. Today’s essay outlines sorely needed advances of large scope. Ensuing columns will amplify key features. Judge the whole.
    Dept. of Regulatory Science & Technology Tools move us faster than slogans. A painting can show new ways of seeing things, unless we stand too near it. It works the same with regulation.
    Camps of competing interests exchange infamies over the need for regulation. Industry decries the strictness of regulations. Camps berate the enforcement of regulations.  
    The efficiency of regulation gets the least attention, yet is vital to the most interests.

  • First responders need protection

    Most Americans were heartened a few months ago, when Congress enacted and President Obama signed — with considerable fanfare ­— a law providing financial help for people who got sick after the fall of the World Trade Center in 2001.
    Firefighters, police officers and others involved in the massive cleanup have suffered with diseases traceable to the horrendous toxic exposures they endured.
    Special legislation was needed for the civic employees, in part because of the long time lag between the exposure and the disease.
    Statutes vary from state to state, but in general, occupational disease coverage under workers’ compensation law is limited by narrow definitions and time limits that would make it difficult to apply to these cases.

  • There’s no political glory in making hard decisions

    Sen. Bill Sapien was defending his bill to move money from higher education to early education, and the Senate Finance Committee wasn’t buying.
    “We’re all trying to skin the cat for early childhood education,” said Republican Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort.
    “The problem is,” added Democrat Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, “We’re all skinning the same cat.”
    I like to make fun of political cliches, but I can also appreciate the power of a phrase, however overused, to communicate, especially in a session as charged and raw as this one.  We heard a lot about “stepping up to the plate,” “kicking the can down the road,” and balancing the budget on somebody’s back.