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Today's Opinions

  • Rule against logrolling separates N.M. Legislature from Congress

    I checked my New Mexico Constitution the other day, and the provision is right there where I left it: Article IV, Section 16, “Subject of bill in title; appropriation bills.”
    “The subject of every bill shall be clearly expressed in its title, and no bill embracing more than one subject shall be passed except general appropriation bills and bills for the codification or revision of the laws; but if any subject is embraced in any act which is not expressed in its title, only so much of the act as is not so expressed shall be void....”
    This is called the single-subject provision. I wrote about it a couple of years ago, pointing out how nasty it is when Congress violates this principle and what a relief it is that New Mexico, along with 41 other states, has a single-subject requirement.
    Congress regularly sticks multiple unrelated subjects into the same bill, so members have to vote for the part they disagree with in order to support the part they agree with. How many bills have come out of the U.S. House of Representatives that include something about undoing the Affordable Care Act, for example?  
    The House of Representatives was barely able to pass a bill funding the Homeland Security Department for more than a week because some members insisted on holding the funding hostage to extraneous provisions.

  • Involving kids in family vacation planning

    Family vacations produce memories for a lifetime, but they can also teach kids great money lessons they’ll need as adults.
    Involving kids in planning family vacations not only helps them appreciate the overall benefits of travel, but offers an opportunity for even the youngest kids to learn lessons about budgeting, saving and essential money management they will encounter every day.
    If you have trouble tearing your kids away from their smartphones, you might be in luck. The technology kids use can be very effective in budgeting, pricing and planning travel. Surfing travel destinations can teach kids a great deal about what travel really costs.
    The first step in planning the family vacation should be creating a budget for the trip. Set a realistic dollar limit for the trip and bΩe prepared to discuss why that limit exists. For example, if there is a home renovation project scheduled that particular year, explain how that affects the overall family budget and the resources for the trip. It’s an important lesson in balancing fun and family priorities.

  • A solution to address the oral health care crisis in New Mexico

    New Mexico is a culturally rich and diverse state with 22 American Indian Tribes, Pueblos and Nations that exercise sovereignty over their land and people.
    Our tribes have exercised these rights since time immemorial and prior to the Spanish, Mexican and United States governments.
    Tribes have the inherent right to govern and protect the health and welfare of their citizens, and oral health care should be no different.
    There is an oral health care crisis in our New Mexico tribal communities that must be addressed. Many tribes are located in rural areas, and most are in dental provider shortage areas.
    Even those living in urban areas have little to no access to dental care.
    Dental decay and disease are highly prevalent in the American Indian population. In one New Mexico Pueblo, 70 percent of adults suffer from untreated dental decay, and 58 percent of the children live with untreated dental decay.
    These children are missing school and suffering needlessly. Adults miss work, and elders cannot eat nutritious foods.
    This is needless suffering when a proven solution is readily available. By utilizing the dental therapist model all tribal, rural and underserved people throughout the state of New Mexico could benefit from much needed oral health care.

  • Whistleblowers deserve our gratitude and protection

    Sometimes We the People don’t elect the most upstanding candidates.
    Or we elect upstanding candidates, but they appoint people who aren’t cast from the same material.
    Or the power and temptation that come with the position alter them in ways that would surprise their grandmothers.
    Stuff happens. Most of the time, the first to know are subordinates or co-workers. Unless they’re willing to come forward, the bad seed grows and, undetected and unchecked, spreads aggressively.
    I have a lot of respect for whistleblowers and have worked with a number of them over the years. I know there are soreheads and disgruntled employees and even office romances gone wrong. They’re outnumbered by bona fide informants.
    Let me introduce you to them.
    They rarely see themselves as heroes. They’re ordinary people who really, really, really didn’t want to complicate their lives or step into the limelight.
    But they’re witnesses to something they could no longer stomach. The way they see it, they have no choice.
    Whistleblowers risk everything, everything — job, health, reputation, marriage — by going public.

  • Foster care system must improve for children placed in state's custody

    Among government’s critical responsibilities is protecting children from abuse and neglect. Our goal in this legislative session is to improve the foster care system for children placed in the state’s custody because their parents are unable, or unwilling to care for them.
    We are co-sponsoring Senate Public Affairs Committee substitute for Senate Bill 115 to help accomplish that. The Senate has unanimously approved the legislation, which will lay a foundation for realigning citizen review boards required by federal law to help oversee the state’s efforts at safeguarding children in foster care.
    Let us be clear at the outset. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure the state’s policies and practices effectively serve children.
    We’ve heard concerns expressed that proposed changes would silence citizen input into decisions about foster children. Rest assured the legislation will not do that. In fact, citizen advocates for improving child welfare can more effectively influence state policies if SB 115 is approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez.
    The legislation is straightforward. It reorganizes an advisory committee to include representatives of the state agency responsible for child protection, the courts, former foster children, as well as members of the public.

  • Real estate loans help business owner promote community health

    Health is a common denominator of Deanna Montoya’s Belen businesses. The Extreme Fitness gym, which she started seven years ago, and the Enchanted Smiles dental practice, which opened in September 2013.
    The lifelong Belen resident operates both businesses, leading Zumba classes at the gym and working as a dental hygienist at Enchanted Smiles.
    Montoya’s passion for fitness is obvious to locals — whether they’re the other instructors she employs to lead spin, rip and circuit training classes at Extreme Fitness — the dentist, receptionist and part-time hygienist who work at the dental practice, or the people who’ve benefited from community fundraisers Montoya has hosted to help pay her neighbors’ medical bills or raise awareness about cancer.
    That enthusiasm was equally apparent to loan officers at Accion New Mexico, the nonprofit business lender that provided the commercial real estate loans that Montoya needed to open the gym and purchase the dental practice.
    “In addition to a deep commitment to running a business and knowing what she was looking for in a commercial property, Deanna’s great character and passion for what she does was evident from the start,” said Justin Hyde, New Mexico market manager for Accion.

  • Dunn Takes Action — Pump Jack To Return

    A politician did something unusual and refreshing a few days ago.
    This was an action, something definite, not the spewing forth of a mumbo-juxmbo fog of words, not the filing of a bill, which indeed is a specific action but one only leading to process upon process.
    Further, this action stands against one of those mindsets created by liberals to better our lives as defined by the liberals’ view.
    I exaggerate some but not much, only in the sense that the action by Aubrey Dunn Jr., Commissioner of Public Lands, started a process that will have a real result.
    For just about forever the State Land Office at 310 Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe had a pump jack out front. In case anyone doesn’t know, a pump jack is a device supporting the piston pump drawing oil from a well. A pump jack is — horrors — industrial.
    At some point, the pump jack was replaced by a brick head — a large head made of bricks. The head was part of the state’s public art program, a concoction based on the notion that spotting “art” around public spaces makes us feel better, sort of, I suppose, like painting overpasses. I don’t know when the public art thing started, but it has become part of the woodwork.

  • Golf course renovation necessary

    I can’t help but compare the discussion involving the merits of the CIP project for the proposed North Community Regional Park and Community Links with what I do for a living: provide apartment housing for people living in Los Alamos.
    I own and manage a number of buildings in town that are almost the same age as is the golf course and believe it or not, there are more similarities than you might think.
    By the time our current projects are completed this summer, we will have invested well over $1,500,000 in upgrades and innovations in recent years. We do this because we have to meet or exceed the needs and desires of our customers.
    As a result, we have stayed competitive in the market and have a successful business.
    The same cannot be said for the golf course in Los Alamos.
    There is little disagreement that the course needs a new irrigation system. The current system is nearing 30 years of age, was not properly installed in the first place and is a component that typically requires replacement every 20-25 years.
    What is being debated is the proposed renovation of the course, which would include completely new turf and the re-design of several holes for safety concerns.